It’s the time of year when the fillies and fellas come out to play in their finest feathers. As one of the world’s richest horse races, the $10-million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup is exciting of course, but the stakes are far higher off the track, as socialites compete for attention, to inspire envy or signal that they’re ready to mingle. Whether you’re parading around Apron Views or engaging in catty commentary at the Sky Bubble, Meydan is the place to see and be seen. We’ve got some top tips to ensure you’re firmly anchored in the stylish category.
There’s dressed to kill and then there’s overkill, so try not to turn up like a display rack for all your accessories or obsessively match from hat to toe. “You don’t want to look like you trying too hard,” Noor Breish, Fashion and Style Director at Designer-24, tells GN Focus. “A simple dress for an exaggerated hat, or vice versa. Otherwise it can come across tasteless and tacky.”
Breish, a Style Stakes judge this year, is going to be looking for “originality” and “effortless” looks, so go on and set a new trend if you dare. Just don’t clash prints or colours — anything that makes her eyes hurt is a big no.
“Maintaining the balance between chic and comfortable is key,” says Mukta Shahdadpuri, Chief Stylist and Fashion Consultant at the shopping consultancy The Style Circuit. She suggests “classic elegance with an element of drama”. She advises against looking like a Disney character.
Pick sensible but stylish shoes. Kitten heels or designer sneakers will prevent you from sinking into the mud or grass; outside the carpeted lounges, it’s not a day for skyscraper stilettos.
Men looking to impress should avoid boxy, ill-fitted suits, advises Akshaar Sawlani, Partner at Royal Fashion. “You could be wearing an expensive designer suit but if it doesn’t fit right, it defeats the purpose.” His pet peeve: guys who wear white or sports socks with a suit. Just don’t!
All eyes on you in spring colour
Breish recommends Make your spring debut with colourful dresses like this straight-cut Lela Rose frock covered in yellow lace florals. Pair it with some tassel earrings (Kate Middleton loves them!) like these from Oscar de la Renta . Add Gucci’s textured hard-case clutch and serious hattitude with this handcrafted piece by Liza Georgia Millinery; all available to rent at Designer-24.com.
Quick fix Don’t have time to look for the perfect ensemble? Pull out your classic little black dress and show it off with a statement fascinator from Olga Miljko (from Shapoh.com). Or nip down to Chanel in Dubai Mall for a plastic hat for an instant and on-trend look.
Save your feet A pointy pair of six-inch heels, such as these Ted Baker beauties, can make any outfit, but if you can’t suffer for fashion try Ecco’s new Shape sandals, which are available in a range of shades, and promise a footbed of comfort without compromising on your style quotient.
Suit up, ladies
Tailored chic Shahdadpuri says don’t underestimate the power of a well-tailored suit. We saw some suit action on the red carpet too, with Eve in Naeem Khan at the Grammys and Naomi Campbell in white Alexandre Vauthier at Vanity Fair’s Oscars party. Try this one by Racil (Boutique 1 and Themodist.com) and make a huge statement by pairing it with a wide-rimmed hat (Olga Miljko at Shapoh.com) and a pair of kitten heels. For some bling, take a cue from Annelise Michelson (bracelet, available at Themodist.com). Also a great look for modest fashionistas.
Quick fix You can also pair a wardrobe staple like a pencil skirt with a well-tailored shirt. This classic Fifties’ style statement has made a comeback thanks to the likes of Victoria Beckham. Prop it up with a nice bag (we love this monogram wallet from the Saint Laurent Boutique at Mall of the Emirates). Add a quirky element with your fascinator and a pair of sporty heels (we’re loving Aldo’s new line). Have some fun with Ferragamo’s Rainbow eyewear (Marchon.com), and pack in a neat Samsung S9 to snap photos of the jockeys.
Ethnic and eclectic
Indo-west ensemble Shahdadpuri is a big fan of the dhoti pant as it’s so comfortable and easy to wear. Pair it with an embroidered cape like this one by Tarun Tahiliani for an effortlessly chic look (available at Taruntahiliani.com). Accessorise with statement jadau jewellery, a metallic headpiece and classic metallic ankle straps from Max Mara, at Dubai Mall
Quick fix Find a kaftan with some jewelled detailing (or dig one out of your closet). Team it with a statement turban like we saw at the Gucci Cruise 2018 for a boho chic look at the races, or channel your inner Beth Ditto. And just to feel good about all the walking you’ll be doing, strap on the new Fitbit Versa.
Red-carpet rise From Armie Hammer’s Giorgio Armani merlot two-piece to Ansel Elgort’s emerald Tom Ford tux, velvet was a surprise trend at the Oscars this month. It could spell disaster on a warm Dubai day, though, so to get the look without melting in the heat, opt for a similar colour in cotton or linen, says Sawlani. This unlined Havana Red jacket with slim-fitted Porto trousers from Suit Supply breathes nicely, says store manager Mohammad Zeaiter, who points to the details the brand is known for, such as notch lapels, patch pockets and kissing buttons. “Burgundy is a big trend this year, as is green,” he says. “You could also team it with shorts.”
Quick fix Neapolitan-style tailoring is back. That’s partly lined jackets with soft shoulders and no padding and we bet you’ve got one already, so pair it with chinos and moccasins. Add sartorial swagger with Citizen’s latest Bluetooth watch and and accessorise with a phone for the best photos of the fillies — we still love the iPhone X.
Wear it lightly
Lighten up Sawlani says breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton in beige and white hues are perfect for the heat. Opt for a jacket with wide peak or notched lapels adding that little bit extra to the look, like this striped number from Hackett,above, which goes great with a crisp white shirt, patterned tie and brown penny loafers (Kurt Geiger).
Quick fix Pair a linen suit from your closet or make a work jacket do double duty (Hackett has options) with clean sneaks and Versace sunnies for a relaxed aesthetic. Add a pop of colour with a watch from D1 Milano’s Neon line (Harvey Nichols) and you’re good to go.
Meet our style panel
Noor Breish, Fashion and Style Director at Designer-24, is a judge at this year’s Dubai World Cup Meydan Style Stakes. She has worked on the creative direction team of Luisaviaroma.com, and in brand management and marketing at Jimmy Choo and Burberry.
Akshaar Sawlani is a second-generation entrepreneur and Partner at Dubai-based bespoke men’s tailors Royal Fashion. The company’s tailored suits have won its clients Best Dressed Man at the Dubai World Cup three years running — from 2014 to 2016.
Mukta Shahdadpuri is Chief Stylist and Fashion Consultant at The Style Circuit, a consultancy and personal shopping service specialising in bespoke solutions for global clients. She hosts trunk shows and pop-ups for international brands and fashion labels in the region.