Race day fashion is a growing category for many special occasion designers. Recent years have seen several interesting variations on the dress code but there's no denying the power of an artfully placed headpiece. And while the image of the lovable lush trotting about with a piccolo for Ladies Day at Aintree might provide some comic relief, take a second to be inspired by the women who have race day dressing down to a fine art, keeping things elegant and polished from top to toe. For many, it's a lesson in separating what's appropriate for the races and what's acceptable for a nightclub.
Race day dressing need not be an arduous task, however, as several specialty milliners have created hat options that can be worn beyond race day and don't look overworked with the frills and frippery. Australian milliner Christie Murray's sculptural hats combine her love of art and millinery for a fresh take on luxury headpieces. The "Sadira" hat, for example, is a fine-weave, draped buntal straw hat with a delicate, textured crinoline trim that frames the face and works particularly well with one of this season's most versatile dresses, the frayed "Daria" dress by newcomers Harman Grubisa.
Reworked versions of straw boaters also get a look-in, along with oversized gaucho hats, offering up plenty of inspiration for some Latin-inspired overtones (gold jewellery, bolero jackets, pant suits). For something simple and effective, the Brixton "Buckley" hat is the perfect blank canvas that works with the addition of a crystal brooch or a garland of silk flowers for added finesse that will make heads turn. The Dries Van Noten floral brooches from Scotties give an added touch to an otherwise simple hat, but, if your budget doesn't stretch that far, try some cost-effective options from your local craft store.
1. Eres + Maison Michel rabbit-felt and lace hat, $1115, from Net-a-Porter.
2. Brixton "Buckley" hat, $160, from Black Box boutique.
3. Morgan & Taylor "Kendall" hat, about $219.
4. Jendi adjustable wide brim hat, $59, from Ballantynes.
5. Monika Neuhauser "Fantine" straw boater with Guipure lace overlay, $420.
6. Natalie Chan "d'Orsay" cane lattice and silk organza hat, $950.
7. Natalie Chan "Jardin de Luxembourg" hat, $720.
8. Masterpeace jacquard silk headband, $495, from matchesfashion.com.
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Perfect pieces to last all season.
An easy summer dress: Stella Sophia dress, $140, from Farmers.
A purse to put your winnings in: Gucci handbag, $2850.
A block heel to walk in: Renzi heels, $790, from Runway Shoes.
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