Stylist Courtney Smith on her top occasionwear picks to buy now
Have a wedding coming up, or a trip to the races? Stylist Courtney Smith tells us what occasionwear pieces she has her eye on right now.
The races is synonymous with style and it’s one of my favourite places to people watch. If you are heading this year I’ve picked some of my favourite looks currently available from online and Irish retailers.
My advice would be to champion Irish and local designers where possible – they don’t have to make up your whole look, but even an accessory or part of your outfit can be a huge support to up-and-coming Irish designers. We love to support our own and there is incredible talent in the fashion design industry.
For example, check out last year’s Longines Irish Champions Weekend Young Designer Award winner Lia Cowan whose designs have been worn at top events around Ireland since her win last year.
Next up is the now iconic brand Rixo, who are always on my hitlist. Their Eleanor dress comes in a few colour and print variations and I just adore the high neckline – it gives the dress a really chic feel and the fabric and prints feel modern. I also think it’s the perfect dress to team with boots if the weather doesn’t go your way.
One of my latest fashion finds is Irish retailer greens are good for you. They have a store based in Royal Hibernian Way but also have a great online site with hundreds of options. These girls are championing sustainability with a rental programme where you can borrow incredible designer pieces for a fraction of the price – it’s a great way to spend less and wear something unique for one day only. This Simone Rocha aby blue chiffon dress immediately caught my eye and only costs €100 to rent for three days (instead of the thousands it costs to buy it.)
I love to see separates at the races and a great suit worn well can look incredible. British Retailer Jigsaw has a beautiful new occasionwear collection out and this belted tuxedo suit in vibrant pink is the perfect way to do a feminine take on a more masculine fit. The obi belt adds a touch of class and makes it feel more opulent and races-appropriate too.
Sometimes you can have the most amazing outfit but be let down by your accessories. Realistically a stiletto isn’t going to do you any favours for comfort or practicality at the races! I adore Irish designer Nicki Hoyne’s take on seriously chic mules that would dress up just about any outfit – bonus points for the fact that they are flats. She also currently has a pop-up in Kildare Village so you can visit her there in person and try them on.
If you are looking to stand out at Ladies’ Day, then colour is always your friend. This summer was awash with vibrant hues and while we are fast approaching full autumnal vibes, see this as your chance to go bold. I adore this lime green structured dress from one of my favourite brands Rotate, which is in Brown Thomas.
Caroline Kilkenny is an Irish designer who does transitional style SO well. I love the vibrant print of this dress which allows you to be playful with your accessories and shoes, but then, as styled in their campaign. can also work really well with boots for a more autumn/winter feel.
Courtney is also a judge in this year’s Longines Irish Champions Weekend Young Designer Award, the winner of which will be announced at this weekend’s Longines Irish Champions Weekend race series. Aspiring young Irish designers were encouraged to submit a design that portrayed Contemporary Race Day Elegance for someone, male or female, attending the Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
The Longines Irish Champions Weekend, Ireland’s greatest racing event, takes place at Leopardstown and The Curragh on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2022.
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