How to be first past the post in the style stakes
OKAY, girls... Hedge your bets for the perfect outfit if you want to be crowned the best-dressed lady.
Don't hyper-coordinate – while it's important to have a unifying colour theme in your outfit, avoid the temptation to match the hat to the shoes to the bag to the lipstick . . . you get the picture. If you're in it to win it, then study the form by looking up past winners. Likewise, find out who the judges are and get a sense of what they are about, and what you think they might be looking for on the day.
Remember that there are excellent designer dress and hat rental services in Dublin. Our favourites include Covet in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and Frock n Fabulous at the Dundrum Luas stop. The latter lends headwear by Irish designers, including Edel Ramberg, Aisling Ahern and Sarah McGahon; covet.ie/frocknfabulous.ie.
If you want to wear something truly unique, go vintage. EBay sells vintage headwear from every era at a fraction of the price of high-street vintage shops.
Comfy shoes are key. Hedge your bets with a pair of wedges. Remember that you'll more than likely be on your feet for the better part of the day, so pack gel pads and plasters for emergencies.
Likewise, pack safety pins, hair clips and a second pair of tights so that you're prepared for every eventuality.
A trend for frilly brollies has come to the fore in recent years. Perfectly fine if it's raining, or you're performing in My Fair Lady. However, if the sun is shining, leave it at home.
It may sound obvious, but many forget to try on their whole outfit the day before. In a full-length mirror. And remember to ask for opinions, too.
Look to the past – If you're seeking inspiration, put away the fashion magazine and consult the style archives. The timeless looks of Coco Chanel, Jackie O, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn are still relevant today.
Shape-shifters – Use cincher and obi belts to change the shape and structure of dresses and blazers.
Less is more – It's not about ticking every accessory box, rather it's about judiciously choosing the accessories that best complement your outfit.
But more is more when it comes to neck – and hemlines. Rosanna (see opposite page) is correct in saying that modesty should always prevail in the Best Dressed Lady competition – irrespective of how many Pilates classes you've done.
Experiment with colour – While it's significantly easier to put together black, white and monochrome ensembles, judges are more inclined to choose finalists who have taken the vibrant approach, especially during the summer racing season. Just note what last year's winner Jennie Pierce is wearing in the picture above. The blue shoes in particular show her sense of style and desire to take a small fashion risk as green or black might have been a more obvious but less fun choice to complete the outfit.
Dress for the weather – No matter how much you spent on your outfit, or how much you want to step into that sun dress, the weather will dictate what you wear on the day. So be prepared to make last-minute outfit adjustments.
Have fun – The judges are more inclined to choose women who are enjoying themselves rather than those who are exhausting themselves in a bid to be spotted.
Red alert – Remember that make-up can be used as an accessory, and the right shade of red lipstick can have just as much impact as a cache of jewels.