Racy Retro – the ladylike way this racing season………..

So Royal Ascot have set the tone already this season by putting fascinators firmly in their place, and decreeing that skirts above the knee are just not going to cut the style mustard. Over the last decade or so, the culture of racing has changed and so have the crowds. Of course, the great and the good will always have their place at race meetings, including the Royal family, but race meetings are becoming more and more popular throughout society and oh, how the Daily Mail loves it. Never a Ladies Day passes at the Grand National without the most outrageous style offenders being photographed, but just in case everyone else thinks they are safe they also included a bar brawl at last year’s Ascot. So this is my decree for this year’ racing season – let’s make it more ladylike! The current fashion Zeigeist is just right to set the scene – Louis Vuitton’s current couture collection was very much retro Hollywood Princess. So chuck out those cheap fascinators and get yourself a show-stopping hat. Leave the platforms, the chunky jewellery, the big bags, the gaudy prints, the Lily Savage slap and the streaky calves at home. Let’s make like Audrey………………………………..

Let’s start with the dress, if you are really going ladylike. This one by Phase Eight is just perfect. Flattering, with a prom-cut skirt and just-below-the-knee, it’s a great investment buy that will see you through more than one day out! The beautiful cut and finish make it look more expensive than it is, and for this one I would definitely go for some white accessories for a real 1950’s feel. Kurt Geiger have done the most perfect white stilletoes – yes, I know they haven’t been around since 1988 but it is time to give them a chance. Add some white gloves, white rimmed glasses and a cheeky smile and you will be the Belle of the Enclosure!

 If you want to go for something more tailored then this beauty by Karen Millen is just the ticket! In this beautiful on-trend jewel shade it is great for girls with curves – Marilyn Monroe would have wiggled her way around in this dress perfectly. Just add some nude accessories and a huge hat and you will have everyone wondering which red carpet you have just jetted in from……………..

Without being too much of a killjoy, I have experienced several Ladies Days where the sun hasn’t let its presence known and there are all the ladies stood, freezing cold with feathers blowing, shyly edging around pashminas. Do not take a pashmina. Take a jacket! Here’s a tip – if it gets warm you can always take it off. This one by Coast is a real Jackie O inspired number and would look just perfect over any dress. Plus when the races are over it would look fabulous with jeans for a casual lunch. A jacket with class, without the Chanel price tag!

If a whole load of structure and Hollywood Housewife isn’t for you, then go 70’s and think Princess Caroline of Monaco in her heyday, or even Kate Moss on her wedding day. This amazing, floaty Top Shop dress is a real show-stopper and as well as a day at the races would quite like a day out at a summer wedding, too. Add a floppy hat (huge), some sunglasses (huge) and some gold bangles (lots) for that just-got-back- from-Monte-Carlo look. But please, please, no wedges. Wedges have no place at race meetings.

Last, but not least, if the thought of a dress is just not you and you really want to steal the scene then this jumpsuit from Reiss is perfection. Very Bianca Jagger, add some monochrome accessories for a streamlined look. Rose Byrne wowed on the red carpet with her Valentino jumpsuit recently, so make like Rose and just add shiny, shiny hair and a fabulous smile. A white fedora topping the lot and all eyes will be on you………

There are so many lovely ladylike shoes to choose from right now, but I love these ones by Dune. Just the shoe to perk up a solid colour dress or oufit, they have the added bonus of not crippling you after several hours on your feet. A fabulous footwear treat.

This pearl bag by Coast is such a pretty way to top off an ladylike outfit season and, like so many buys from this brand, it looks very expensive and detailed. A simple, stand-out piece.

Last, but not least, a word about hair and beauty. This is the season to emulate the Princess look, whether you hark back to Grace or choose a more modern Kate – the look you are going for is groomed to perfection. By all means have a tan but make it a golden glow. By all means add to your lashes but have them professionally applied. By all means go for glamour and add some Princess waves, a red lip, or a winged eye. Being ladylike doesn’t mean leaving sexy behind. It’s just using an understated approach. Leave the spilling cleavages, the orange cankles, the Tressy hair and the fierce lip-liner in the style sin-bin. You may not make the papers (unless you down a vat of vodka and end up upside down in a hedge) but you’ll certainly win in the style stakes………………….



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