Derby fashion: Hat is the crowning glory

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Are you a first timer at the derby and confused about your wardrobe? Put your best foot forward in a little black dress, high wasted pants or maxi-dresses, and accessorise it with oversize hats, pearls and a clutch, say designers.

Derby is not just about horses; it is also about seeing and being seen in a high-end fashionable wardrobe.

"One of the most unique features of derbys is that they are like a sports party where horse power, fashion, and fun come together. Guests wear extremely glamorous clothes and designs," said designer Pria Kataaria Puri.

Indeed, the derby in India has come of age: from a handful of spectators and betting gamers, it has grown into a fashion fiesta.

A case in point was the recent Kingfisher Derby 2013 in Bangalore, where a crowd of about 20,000 gathered, sashaying their ultra-chic clothes and high-end designs.

According to Samar Singh Sheikhawat, senior vice president, marketing, United Breweries Ltd, "derby is as much a lifestyle event as it is a sporting event".

So, what are the key elements of derby fashion?

"When it comes to dressing for the derby, the first and foremost focus is on the hat," Puri told IANS, adding: "There are no rules regarding hats. Hats can be just simple or flamboyant. Besides their show-off value, they must also protect you from the sun."

She suggested that the hat should be such that once you put it on your head, "you don't fidget with it or it upsets your hair-do".

"Secure the hat in place with hat pins. Try not to wear too wide-brim hats as they may make your neighbour uncomfortable. Men are expected to remove their hats indoors and during the National Anthem, but women have no such rules to adhere to," Puri added.

Women are free to indulge in any trend as there is no fixed dress code for them, whereas their male counterparts are expected to be dressed in casual suits, accesorised of course with pocket squares or brooches and hats.

"For women, there is no particular style when it comes to dressing. Anything works - from minis to maxis and formal suits," designer Rajat Tangri told IANS.

"The only code is that the dress has to look beautiful and suit your personality. Complement your clothes with an appropriate clutch," he added.

Since the hat is the crowning glory, jewellery should be subtle and kept to a minimum - a string of pearls or a simple bracelet.

"Pearls would look best as a derby is a day event. Diamonds and coloured gems broaches would also give a glam look, matched up with a solid coloured dress or top," jewellery designer Renu Oberoi explained.

Mind you, too much of everything is a fashion disaster.

"So go simple on colours, prints or style of the garment or the accessories," Oberoi added.

Dark glasses are another must wear, so go for good brands as they are style statements by themselves.

After the dress and accessories, another vital element is footwear.

"For footwear, choose from stilettos to flats. Go for something that you are comfortable in and something that suits your attire," said Puri.

Of course fashion at the derby has a subtle sense of beauty. Who can forget Hollywood veteran Audrey Hepburn's look in 1964 film "My Fair Lady"? She mesmerised her fans when she appeared on the screen in a gown crafted by British costume designer Cecil Beaton and teamed it up with an over-sized hat for the movie's derby sequence.

And Nicole Kidman recreated an almost similar look at one of the derbys last year where she came dressed in an elegant black-and-white lace dress and fashionable hat.

Even our own desi babe, Sonam Kapoor, wore a white halter ruffled dress in a derby scene in her 2010 film "Aisha".

So, in case you can't access stylists, check out celebrities' wardrobes they flash in the movies or at events.

"Horse racing across the world has been glamorous with best dressed ladies and sharply suited males attending. Most of the other sporting events are very casual, but this is more formal," Sheikhawat told IANS.

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedits.s@ians.in)

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