Bairbre Power: What Best Dressed judges like me are looking for at Ladies Day
Let me start with a statement of fact: The Best Dressed racing circuit is not a catty, bitchy environment, but it is highly competitive.
The chic phalanx of ladies battling it out for the style prize at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby in the Curragh today will be polite and friendly to each other, but they will not be sharing styling secrets.
Most of the regulars have developed signature styles and evolved an ability to slice and dice, knowing instinctively how much emphasis to give to their clothes versus their headpiece. Colour is their friend and unlike during the recession, when many liked to showcase a cut-price wardrobe-pleaser from Penneys, now it's often the addition of a specially commissioned hat or vintage accessory that pushes a pretty high-street outfit into the winner's enclosure.
- Read more: What does it take to win at Ladies Day? Ireland's Best Dressed women share their style secrets
One milliner fast making a name for herself is Sarah Stephens. A former model, Sarah graced the front pages of magazines for years and this self-taught milliner has carved out a successful business for herself with Hat Society (hatsociety.ie).
Sarah is based in Station House at the Dundrum Luas stop on Taney Road and judging from what I saw the day I visited, she gets a lot of customers coming directly from Dundrum Town Centre with their buys, wanting to discuss one-offs for summer racing, weddings and special occasions, or book rentals at €60 for three days.
Dundrum Town Centre is sponsoring Ladies' Day at the Dublin Horse Show, which falls early this year, on July 21, due to the Olympics. Its Best Dressed competition is such a democratic style event, you can enter yourself.
The high street is full of great occasionwear at the moment, especially labels like Self-Portrait at BT2 and Karen Millen. The prize of €10,000 from Dundrum Town Centre is well worth chasing, while the Best Dressed at Irish Derby today offers a prize of a luxury holiday in Dubai, a piece of Boodles jewellery and a stay at the Marker Hotel.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that winning is all about expensive designer labels, because it's not. It's about originality, with a heavy sprinkling of individuality. Don't let the outfit wear you, embrace colour and above all, good grooming is key. Go easy on the false tan. Orange limbs never look endearing. My favourite is the Bronz'Express Magic Radiance drops which you can add to your own moisturiser for a subtle glow.
Remember to keep comfortable. If you plan to enter at the RDS, (the queues can be long but the chat in the line is always fun) why not bring a pair of flats and pop on the heels for photos and meeting the judges on stage. This year, I'm judging at Ladies' Day at the RDS with Louise O'Reilly and I look forward to meeting you, all the fashion chat and tweeting about your style.