As Champion Jockey Tony McCoy jumps his final hurdle into retirement, we ladies are getting set for the glamorous flat racing season.
Royal Ascot, The Derby and Glorious Goodwood – not to mention balmy evening racing at Windsor or jugs of Pimm’s at Newmarket . . .
Spending a sunny day at the races is quintessentially British. Ice buckets stocked with something wonderfully chilled, crowds dressed up in their finery and a flutter on an aptly-named horse that you can raucously cheer past the winning post – what’s not to like?
While we may all be pouring over the form, consulting the pundits and checking out the latest odds, most women’s attention will be equally focused on what they’ll be wearing. Outside of weddings and Christenings, there are a few occasions where we can push the boat out and dress to impress. A day at the races gives our inner gorgeousness a chance to shine.
You need time to choose the right dress in the right colour with the right length and at the right price. Shoes will need to match and be comfy enough to totter around in all day. Bags, belts and bling will all need careful consideration before a girl is ready for the off.
But the clothes you throw on are only part of the story. Your face, body and hair have to match up to your exacting sartorial standards.
Make sure you’ve exfoliated, waxed and moisturised as appropriate. Don’t forget sunscreen and, when you can, opt for makeup with an inbuilt SPF factor.
Give your skin a natural glow by using a body lotion that contains a hint of fake tan. This is particularly important if you’re going bare-legged and the English sun hasn’t quite had a chance to make its mark on your pins.
If you need to, use a small amount of liquid foundation to cover up any imperfections on your legs or arms. If you’re unlucky enough to be sporting a nasty bruise or graze you should consider wearing tights or even rethink your entire outfit. You want to wow your fellow race-goers, not make them wince.
Your hands are very important during a day at the races. They’ll be constantly on show wrapped round a Champagne glass or pointing to your winning pick in the race card, so don’t neglect them.
Nails should be shortish and squarish and adorned with the perfect hue to match your outfit. Hot spring trends include pure white, caramels, greys and metallics. Nail art is discreet and minimal – a slender gold line across the nail or a single, subtle crystal, for example.
If your footwear makes your toes peep, then you’ll need a pedicure. Nails should match your hands but you should also pay close attention to the condition of your soles and heels. Ugly feet are simply the worst accessory. Buff the life out of your loofah or invest in a professional pedicure. Your feet will thank you for it.
When it comes to race day make-up keep it light and fresh – this is a day time event and the emphasis should be on classy not brassy.
For eye make-up that lasts make sure you start with ultra clean lids. Use a cleanser to wipe away any traces of oil and be sure to keep moisturiser away from this area.
Steer clear of sexy, smoky eye make-up. You’ll spend a lot of the day squinting into the brilliant sunshine and dark shadow with heavy liner will just make your eyes look even smaller. Opt instead for a more neutral palette. Think in tones of taupe, latte browns and pale golds.
Glittery shadows are too much for a day at the races, but if you want to add some dazzle go for a strong metallic shade that blends well with neutrals.
Consider using gel eye liner instead of your usual kohl because it has greater staying power and won’t smudge like pencil is prone to.
Image from xtina5645 on Flickr
Or follow the current fashion for pretty pastels and turn to the candy counter of eye shadows like lemon sherbet, bon bon pink and minty green.
Lips can be high maintenance, especially when they’ll be working overtime sipping Pimm’s all day.
You have two options – go for a slick of shimmery gloss in a pale pink that you can easily touch up throughout the day without a mirror, or put in the prep for a statement lip that stands an outside chance of staying the course.
A strong lip colour is great if your outfit is fairly understated or, even better, monochrome.
Choose reds or bright pinks but for an ultra-modern effect, opt for a trendy shade of orange.
Start your prep the night before. Use a dry toothbrush to slough off any dead or dry skin on the surface of your lips. Then slather them in Vaseline overnight.
When you’re getting ready, do your lips last.
*Start with a colour-free primer that will add light moisture, smooth and refine your lips before you apply colour.
*Use a lip pencil the same shade as your lipstick to outline your lips, then use it to colour them in.
*Use a lip brush to paint lipstick on top, blot with a tissue and then apply again.
This technique will produce flawless results that should last well past the first race. But take a pencil and lippy in your bag for touch-ups throughout the day.
Lipstick sealers like Lipcote will extend the life of your lips but they can feel sticky and unnatural.
Race day hair needs attention. A brush and go approach just doesn’t cut it.
Unless you’re attending Royal Ascot, wearing a hat to the races is not compulsory. If you do choose to wear one, be prepared to keep it on all day – hat hair is so not a good look.
Fascinators can be attractive but they can also look silly and outdated. Be wary.
But there are plenty of fresh, modern alternatives if you’re dead set on decorating your hair.
Pin your hair to the side with a big, colourful silk flower or pick out a glamorous hair band in peacock feathers, jewels or flowers.
Image from goMainstream on Flickr
If you’re happy to have naked hair, there are a few rules.
Consider the weather – long, loose locks do not fare well in wind and rain, for example.
If you are going to wear your hair down then use styling products sparingly. They will weigh down your hair and make it look lacklustre and limp half way through the day. Instead, apply a light, elastic hairspray to set your hair and take a travel-size can of it in your handbag to keep your style in check.
But by far the most practical option is an up do. Not a formal, structured, indestructible style but a casual, devil-may-care look that is deceptive in its durability.
What about a low pony? Practical and equestrian.
*First smooth your hair with straightening irons and style into a side parting, which is flattering for all face shapes.
*Use a light hair spray to calm down any fly-aways and tie back at the nape of your neck with a clear elastic.
*Reserve a small section to wrap neatly round the elastic to conceal it and secure the ends with grips.
The result is sleek and stylish and will not trouble you all day.