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Off to the races

18 October 2022

Whether you’re planning to attend race day events or just want to capture the vibe in your new-season wardrobe, seasoned pro Mary Outram gives us her hot tips. Interview Josie Steenhart

While followers of fashion turn to Mary Outram’s social media platform @mary_oh_ all year round for her signature brand of style inspiration, it’s in spring when the Cantabrian’s account really blossoms. Having attended the races 12 years running, Mary is the local go-to when it comes to putting together fabulous race day attire, so who better to chat with ahead of this year’s event…

What is it about a race day that’s so appealing, in your opinion?

There’s an electric feeling about the city during race week that is like no other week of the year. Cantabrians come alive and the social excitement of celebrating with friends at the raceway is different from any other event.

Then, well, there is the fashion of course! This is one of those rare times you can dive right into fashion and not hold back, whether that’s to have a bold creative look, or something a little more subtle and soft. The excitement of planning your outfit is half the fun.

Whether people are attending/watching the races or just wanting to capture the mood in their wardrobe, what should they be looking for/thinking about?

If I could give you two words of advice when putting together a race day outfit, it would be colour and class.

A race day look is traditionally a ‘day’ look, so my advice is to avoid anything too short, ‘evening’ or with dark sequins. You want to turn heads, but only with your elegance and femininity.

Style and trends (naturally) evolve. In more recent years I’ve worn bright and bold outfits with more simplified accessories. However, as Iris Apfel would say, “More is more and less is a bore.” This is your fashion moment so wear what you love and feel amazing in.

You may not get another excuse to make a statement with your clothing this year, so why not go all out? Be adventurous, be bold, be creative.

I genuinely love all colours but this season I think we’ll be seeing a lot of blue, lilac and green – they are trending, glamorous and strong. If you can’t decide on one colour, try colour blocking to get the best of all worlds!

Overall if you feel beautiful, there really are no right or wrong colours to wear because style is a feeling, not a look.

A feeling of self-confidence and self-love – so keep that in mind when deciding on your outfit – “How does this dress/ suit/two-piece make me feel?”.

What are people doing accessories-wise currently? Is headwear essential?

Headbands and more subtle hair accessories have been on trend the past few seasons instead of full hats or fascinators. This gives a classic look that’s timeless yet polished. Decide what works for you. Some of my best headwear looks have been homemade using basic headbands and decorative items like pearls or netting that I’ve bought from a fabric store. It’s amazing what you can do with a glue gun!

Espadrilles or kitten-heeled slingbacks are still very much in, along with platform slides (all of which will ensure comfort for spending the day on your feet).

Mary's moodboard.

Any hints as to what we might see from you this racing season?

People often keep their outfits secret until the day, and I like to keep mine under wraps too. It’s part of the drama and to be honest, I am still putting my looks together!

However, I can tell you I always build an outfit around one hero piece. It starts for me by finding something that I just fall in love with and become so obsessed with that I just have to have it – a pair of shoes, a dress, a bag… And then I’ll begin to build the remainder of my look around that one hero piece. This is a great way to begin your outfit because you don’t have to put it all together in one moment, you just start simply with one piece that you love.

From here I love making a mood board, it’s a great way to draw inspiration for your look through vision, colour and images. I create one for every special occasion I’m dressing for now and find Pinterest best for this.

Once I have a vision in place, I find it easier to know what I am looking for or what might then inspire me once shopping to purchase those final elements to complete my finished look.

Any other pro tips or final advice?

Have fun and, as Karl Lagerfeld said, “Elegance is an attitude” – so bring your confidence and a sense of fun with you and you’ll not only look gorgeous but also have the most fabulous time.

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