Milliner Anthony Peto on how a hat can make or break your Galway Races outfit 11 months ago

Milliner Anthony Peto on how a hat can make or break your Galway Races outfit

We're three weeks away.

Excitement is building for the Galway Races, and especially Ladies' Day which takes place on August 1st.

As Her is sponsoring the Best Dressed Lady competition this year, we're diving deep into the world of fashion to bring you expert advice on getting your look competition ready.

As Her's Fashion Editor, I've been exploring everything from what your options are when it rains, to getting some insider tips from last year's winner, all to help you to stand out as a serious Best Dressed contender.

No matter what your style is, a hat or headpiece is one of the most important aspects of your Ladies' Day outfit. Whether you wear a fascinator on the day or go all-out with a wide brimmed embellished piece, headwear can make or break you.

If you're like me then you'll find choosing a hat a little difficult, so I sought out an expert milliner to get some advice on finding the right fit. I chatted to Dublin-based hat designer Anthony Peto about the evolution of race days, his inspirations and what he thinks will make a winner this year.

When it comes to trends, Anthony believes that hats don't follow them - it's more about the person wearing them. "Hats for the races are not about trends but about individuality and creating an outfit and a silhouette.

"It is vital that it suits the wearer and doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of the day by being hard to wear. However, bright colours and (the illusion of) volume are very popular at the moment."

Even when it comes to how style has evolved at the races over the years, Anthony believes that it's all to do with the ladies themselves.

"It seems to me that hats reflect the national mood, so if ladies are feeling buoyant and optimistic - as I feel they are this year - they will be wearing more exuberant styles and not be too concerned about looking 'cool'.

"I see trends as fluctuating. However, there are a lot of very talented milliners in Ireland so the standard is high right now."

So where does Anthony he get his inspiration from? There's so many avenues to go down, but looking at his creations they are all extravagant yet beautifully ornate.

"Anything can spark off an idea," he explains. "I once made a hat inspired by a parking cone which was surprisingly chic... And it kept the cars away too! I love ideas that are poetic, such as a recent straw hat with a swarm of butterflies forming a bow, as if they had just hovered there by accident for a second."

Anthony has been in the business for 25 years, so he has dressed his fair share of women for Ladies' Day. While the hat is important, the designer urges any potential contestants to start with the dress and work from there.

"I would definitely start with the outfit. You will be judged on the overall look and not just the hat. Find something that really suits you and, if possible, tells a story: how it was made, why you chose it, something personal.

"Then, think carefully about the hat and how it will enhance the outfit and not detract from it. Try not to leave it to the last minute because a beautiful hat takes time to make!"

Anthony Peto is based at 14 South Anne Street, Dublin 2. His store boasts of two floors which include a recently opened downstairs space, home to an extended range for female clientele.