This year, at the 2015 Discover Ireland Dublin Horseshow, I did something I’d never done before. I did ladies day, dressed up like a lady. Normally at the horseshow I would be dressed comfortably and found either shopping, photographing, grooming or working on an article. This year I was invited to a lunch and a corporate afternoon of show jumping by Investec (www.investec.ie) which coincided with their sponsorship of the Irish Nations Cup Team.
My first panic was what on earth I was going to wear. Being barely 5’2” I need every extra half inch I can get yet I am useless if not a danger to myself in significant heels. Most dresses I own would be more suited to a nightclub or wedding than a ladies lunch and I was sporting the best farmers tan I have had in years (Spanish looking arms / face / neck, blue white legs).
Luckily I’d read a blog post recently by Elaine Bury of Style Goes Racing which was a massive help as it was geared at helping a newbie like me to survive and enjoy ladies day. The Ultimate Rookies Guide To Ladies Day was exactly what I needed The main points that I took on board were 1. To raid my existing wardrobe 2. That I didn’t need to spend a fortune and 3. To stick to 3-4 colours.
As luck would have it I had been gifted an ideal dress just weeks before the event. Huge thanks to my friend Fiona Kane for the beautiful ivory and silver Noa Noa dress which removed the need to dress search out of the equation. The only problem was the dress was see through. I’ll admit I hadn’t noticed this myself but my mum delightedly spotted it when I tried the dress on in front of her in daylight. Having advised me that I should thank her for saving Dublin from seeing my underwear and ass I was advised to buy a slip. A slip – being honest now I didn’t know these were still a thing. I managed to find something resembling one in Penneys – it was flesh coloured, skin tight and looking like something a Kardashian would wear as a dress by itself. Sorted.
Raiding my wardrobe turned up my favourite coat – a warm wine / burgundy coat from New Look several years ago. I adore that colour and hoped to match it with turquoise mid height heels and a similar shade of hand bag. Unfortunately I don’t own either of these and had no luck finding them but a walk through New Look with a work colleague one busy lunch break rewarded me with duck egg blue heels I could actually walk in. A longer wander through giant Penneys carrying said shoes resulted in a handbag to match for just €9. I used jewellery I already owned to finish the outfit and was good to go – almost. I decided to do my own hair and makeup. I figured that if I can perfectly sew plaits into a horse’s mane I should be able to do my own hair at this stage.
On the morning itself I was about half way through curling my hair when I realised 1) am in danger of looking like a mermaid 2) Small curling wand is not the easiest thing to wrap very long hair around 3) oh dear god I have just burned my fecking chin with the curling wand !! 4) see, – this is why people pay to get their hair done. Make up was slightly easier – primer, loads of very life proof long lasting and burnt chin covering foundation, NYX setting spray (amazing stuff) and then to be honest I just went for the more is more philosophy of bronzer and mascara. I had managed in advance to cover up my farmers tan with several layers of fake tan so my arms finally looked like they were from the same continent as my legs.
Dressed, ready and late as usual I headed to my friend Katherine’s where I discovered she too had gone for a neutral look. We set off for the RDS where we joined many others for ladies lunch followed by an afternoon watching show jumping from a ringside corporate box. This was a really lovely day and we were even lucky with the weather. One of the tv channels stopped us for a chat on the way in (bit of a surprise, this doesn’t usually happen when you rock up to groom or write).
What I did learn is that this is the way to enjoy ladies day. Both our lunch and afternoon areas had space for us to hang coats and store items as well as seated areas to save our heeled feet. Speaking o feet, I was glad I had found shoes that were comfortable to wear for hours – I know my limits and can imagine staggering about in skyscraper heels would not have been as enjoyable. Both areas also had plenty of space which when you are my height is a relief as there is nothing worse than being a short girl in a crowd in heels – you may as well just ask to be stepped on! The pure comfort and relaxation of it all was fantastic. We finished the evening with the Nations Cup Team evening at a local hotel. Katherine met her idol Bertram and I met Naoirbi the Zebra.
My biggest personal achievement was keeping a white dress white for the whole day. I am what is usually termed ‘accident prone’ or ‘a dropper’. My tips for fellow suffers include 1) clear or pale alcohol is your friend, red wine is not 2) embrace the napkin when eating 3) Avoid chocolate (if I can for a day, anyone can) 4) stay away from the stables.
Also, I know I talk a lot about the NYX setting spray but it really is a fantastic product – someone asked us had we just arrived that evening because we looked freshly made up – this was at least 12 hours after applying makeup!
The next day we had the pleasure of watching the Irish team winning the Nations Cup Showjumping. By the end of the weekend I was back in familiar surroundings photographing and grooming for friends in the show rings and celebrating one of their daughters winning reserve junior side saddle champion. Thank you so much to Investec for such a lovely day out.
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