First out of the style blocks
Published 21/10/2012 | 06:00
Special-occasion dressing in the winter calls for that extra bit of time and attention. Pretty dresses are easy to find, but the trick is layering them up with great coats that amplify, rather than dumb down, the glamour quotient.
You'll probably be looking for a statement hat, too, for weddings and the races.
My mind is focused on the latter, because I'm off to judge Best Dressed at the JNwine.com Ladies' Day at Down Royal on Saturday November 3.
It's the biggest National Hunt meeting in Ireland before Christmas, and this Ladies' Day competition -- with a prize of €6,000 from House of Fraser -- is your chance to stand out against a backdrop of world-class racing and continue the style revolution at the Co Down racecourse.
This week, we explore a number of desirable options, including Peter O'Brien's latest collaboration with Arnotts, the star of which is the structured dress in heavyweight serge wool, with scalloped detail cut out at the neck and a short metal zip at the back.
The sexy draping of the chartreuse hammered-silk dress from Maria Grachvogel contrasts brilliantly with the solid shape of a Philip Treacy hat, both from the Design Centre in Powerscourt.
Meanwhile, the oyster wool from Pied a Terre -- one of the in-house labels at House of Fraser -- has a gentle cocoon shape, and the collarless detail showcases a silk dress, while the jockey-style hat adds a very authentic racing touch.
Hunting for a great winter hat? John Shevlin's Irish range of fedoras and trilbys in punchy colours, such as purple and berry, are a big attraction at Arnotts and will lift the simplest trench coat.
Just accessorise with cute gloves and you have a great look for a small investment.
The magical, scalloped lace two-piece from Kalu in Naas has a luxe feel, and you can put it to work separately or together to justify the investment.
My ABC tips for the Best Dressed competition are Appropriateness, an interesting Back Story to your outfit and lots of Colour.
For tickets and further information, see www.downroyal.com. Gates open from 11am, with the first race starting at 12.50pm. I will be judging with Michelle Jackson from House of Fraser in Belfast. Do come along and say hello.