LADIES Day – the big social day out of the year. One of elegance and style, combined with that great classic Uttoxeter mood of fun and celebration. But how to get it right? How to keep up with that ever-changing world of fashion?
Preparation is half the enjoyment - the shopping trips, the chatter with friends – and there is never a right or wrong. But, to make life a little easier amidst a minefield of advice, we counselled the opinion of two experts in hair, hats, outfits, and styling.
As personal shopper at Debenhams in the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley, Alexandra Stokes has advised hundreds of women approaching a big social occasion. So what styles would she say are in fashion at the moment?
“Off the shoulder is very popular,” she reveals, “as are the Bardot styles, and boat necks after Megan Markle wore them a lot this year. Also popular are asymmetric lines, lace, florals, embellishments and embroidery.”
But what makes an ideal outfit for the races? “Something striking, eye-catching, something a bit different - something that’s going to scream elegance and sophistication.”
Bright colours with contrasting prints are a success, says Alex, as are florals. She also flags up sophisticated neutral outfits with added colour – “making an outfit striking with accessories.” Alex also mentions bodycon dresses as being a good look for straight figured and hourglass women, while prom dresses are good for creating a waist.
Alex is adamant that an outfit must also reflect hair colour and skin tone. “It has to complement those things and give them a glow.”
Maybe Ladies Night is a time for being bold and stepping out of the comfort zone. “A lot of women who shop at Debenhams say I’ve chosen them something they’d never go for,” says Alex. “That’s why they come to us. They want something a bit different from the usual style they go for.”
No outfit, of course, is complete without a hat. Or is it? “Some ladies love a hat,” notes Alex, “but the more popular choice is the fascinator. It’s taken over in recent years. Fascinators can look just as impressive as a hat but you don’t have to worry about having ‘hat hair’. The royal family has had a big influence on headwear. Megan Markle and Kate Middleton are the main drivers at the moment.”
And the feet? “Wedges are popular. They are so elegant now and perhaps better on grass than heels. Nude shoes also go well with a lot of outfits – again something Kate Middleton wears a lot.”
Fashion is cyclical, so what’s making a return that we might see at the races this year?
“Vintage is coming back,” says Alex, “like prom style dresses, the Bardot, and off the shoulder.”
Something a bit more present day? “Jumpsuits for those who don’t want to wear a dress – very flattering.”
So there’s your outfit sorted, but what about your hair? Sarah Hughes runs K&S Hair, in Uttoxeter. She too has noticed headwear changing.
“A few years ago,” she says, “you either went all out or nothing. Now we’re finding that people are going for the half hats, the big fascinators, more than the big hats, especially the younger generation. For them the big hat isn’t a thing. It’s ladies who are more middle-aged who are having the big hats.
“Younger clients also like fishtail plaits and loose twists,” she adds. “More mature ladies like the classic traditional put-up.”
Best hair styles for fascinators? “Wearing a fascinator tends to mean having the hair up. For a hat you can get away with it down. People will come into the salon with their fascinator a couple of weeks before Ladies Day for a trial. It’s a good idea - everyone is different. If hair is thin or thick you would need a completely different style.”
The royal wedding started a minor run on a Victoria Beckham style put-up and fascinator, but you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy the fascinator’s versatility. “If someone is going to Ladies Day and then going out at night I’ll pin their hair up in the day to wear with a fascinator. Then at night when they take the fascinator off and remove all the pins it will just be curls.”
Which styles work best with which outfits? Take along a picture and your stylist will do the rest. “For instance, with a Marilyn Monroe floaty dress we would do something more relaxed and not quite as traditional and set looking.”
And your time investment? “A couple of hours depending on your hair.”
The best thing for Sarah is that she’s a Ladies Day regular herself. “We love to see the ladies whose hair we’ve done and hear how they’ve been complimented.”
Forget the horses – when it comes to style and fashion, everyone’s a winner at Ladies Day!