Derby is all about flamboyant hats, minimal make-up, billowy dresses and oodles of chutzpah. Phorum Dalal tells you how the right choice of outfits, accessories and make-up can help you make a fashionable debut at the races
White picket fences, a carpet of well-trimmed green grass and handsome, well-kempt manes of horses billow in the breeze — there's excitement at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse as it's the season for the races. The Signature Indian Derby 2015 is on today, and other races will follow throughout this month.
The green backdrop will be peppered with dramatic costumes, flamboyant hats and brightly-coloured silhouettes. But if you thought that dressing up for the races is a Herculean task that is achieved only by the fashion cognoscenti, you are mistaken. sunday mid-day talks to a few designers and experts to decode the derby look for men and women and finds out how you can be a head-turner:
The evolution of derby fashion
"Derby is all about formal yet dramatic hats, ruffles, frills in monochromatic shades, floral and graphic prints," says Kolkata-based designer SS Surya. In the early derby days, when it was a luxurious event of the royals and nobles, the upper-class women hated to step out in the sun. "This is probably one of the major reasons for the emergence of oversized hats as a fashion staple at the races. The hats protected the ladies from the sun while making them look regal," adds Surya.
Sonam Kapoor looks resplendent in a Neha Taneja black ensemble, a Philip Treacy grey hat and noir Dior pumps. Pic/Satyajit Desai
An excuse to flaunt their best attires, the derby soon became synonymous with thematic dressing. "Though a formal event, it is the only time to show off your sense of humour, albeit fashionably. There's the excitement of who will wear the most outrageous hat and the most daring colours in style," says Shilpa Chavan, who owns Little Shilpa that makes headgears, masks and
Over the years, the derby look has changed drastically. It has become more minimal yet stayed classy in terms of silhouette. Take, for instance, Sonam Kapoor's look at a derby event in the city last week. Dressed in a Neha Taneja black ensemble, a Philip Treacy grey hat and noir Dior pumps, she looked chic.
Let the clothes do the talking
According to ace designer Narendra Kumar Ahmed, last year, body-hugging outfits were a huge rage at the races. But this year, it's time to opt for a casual look and don billowy and soft dresses in crepes and georgettes in floral, graphic or bright monochromes.
Debina Bonnerjee looks chic in a short-sleeved coral dress. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Designer Nachiket Barve says that the image of Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn from the cult film Breakfast at Tiffany's is synonymous with derby dressing. "In the early days, women settled for classic black or white colours.
Their outfits followed a Western formal style, which hardly revealed skin. Today, the idea of dressing for a derby has contemporised. Sleeveless knee-length dresses with minimal slits, sans deep cuts, are ideal for the occasion.
The colours of the season are coral, aqua, robin blue and tangerine. If you are not in the mood to wear a dress, then settle for a pantsuit or team up a belly-length crop top with flared pants. Team them up with wedges," he says.
Enter the mad hatter
Any derby outfit for the ladies is incomplete without hats. They come in a multitude of sizes and trends. You can choose from sailor hats, wide-oval panama hats, bell-shaped cloches, pillbox hats with upright sides and a flat crown, soft-brimmed fedoras and Dolly Vardens that are known for their signature floral embellishments.
Shibani Kashyap's clouche hat matches with her outfit
Chavan says, "Usually women look for accessories to match their attire, but always find a suitable hat and then work your clothes around it. Instead of going for really big hats with wide brims, choose fascinators with pearls or feather embellishments that look regal but are easy to carry."
If you thought that you are ready for the races after having chosen your outfit and accessories, then you are mistaken. The right make-up will complete your look.
Urvashi Rautela in a green flowy gown
Celebrity stylist Ojas Rajani says, "While your eyes should hold a mild demeanor, you can go bold with your lip colour — coral red, wine red, brinjal pink, and even maroon look stunning with white, beige and soft-muted tone garments." If you are opting for bright-coloured dresses such as coral, aqua, robin blue and tangerine, then opt for muted lips.
As for the hair, there's good news — waves are back. "Gone are the days when everyone wanted to show off their poker straight hair. Big sexy voluminous tresses make you look younger, and look beautiful under hats, too," he says.
Suit up boys!
The traditional derby attire for men comprises a three-piece suit with the option of a suit jacket or a coat complete with a derby bowler hat, a top hat or a fedora. Finish the look with a perfect pair of tan, black or brown lace shoes.
Randeep Hooda looks suave in a khaki-coloured- linen suit and Tahir Raj Bhasin's orange-chrome trousers add a dash of colour to his white shirt and black jacket
Dubai-based designer Varoin Marwah says, "The popular shades for suits this season are off white, beige, sky blue, royal blue, burgundy, mid-night and navy blues. The suit has to be a classic cut silhouette, but variations can be brought about with details like the collar and pocket. Trousers can vary from straight fit to slightly tapered slim fit as per one's comfort."
Take into consideration your height, build and body shape. "Be it a 25 or a 50-year-old, if the dresser is fashion savvy, he can wear striped or checkered linen shirts, beige or khaki-coloured linen suit and even yellow, orange, mint green, pink or turquoise trousers," says Paresh Lamba, a Bangalore-based designer. Or go for the classic dark, lightweight suits. "Opt for linen, lycra, cotton wool and complete the look with a floral or paisley white pocket square," he adds.
With your frills and fancies in place, there's one thing to take care of — your attitude. Image consultant Rukhsana Eisa says, "The derby is all about luxury, but one must be comfortable in his or her skin. Believe in your attire and enjoy the races."
Stylists Urmi Daga and Hemal Ved from What Wear How suggest the go to places for budget buys:
For dresses and accessories
> Forever 21. Their dresses range from R1,500-2,500 and accessories around R250-850
> Log on to Koovs.com
> Check out Head over Heal at Westside store for good ranges of shoes without burning a hole in your pocket.
> Street shops at Colaba and Hill Road.
> Don't miss the sale at Aldo accessories
> Choice Centre at Hill Road
> Plan in advance, make an effort to groom yourself
> Layer up, so in case it gets too hot, you can remove the jacket
> Jeans are a no-no
> Avoid keds, it's not a soccer field
> Don't ape others, create your own style
> Say no to stilettos
> The weather is unpredictable in Mumbai, so stay away from tussar and silk fabrics
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