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Annmarie lengths ahead in style stakes

Forty and fabulous was the message from this year’s best dressed competition at the Galway Races.
Annmarie O’Leary from Kerry, the winner of the Best Dressed Lady competition at the Galway Races. Photograph Declan MonaghanAnnmarie O’Leary from Camp in County Kerry, celebrating her 40th birthday, took the crown in the Anthony Ryan’s Best Dressed Lady Competition on Thursday in a vintage-style ivory fitted dress with shoulder bow details by Karen Moriarty.
Her hat was designed by Carol Kennelly, milliner from County Kerry and was an antique sequinned vintage inspired hat in bronze gold with chrysanthemum blooms.
“It is an enormous deal to me to win. It is coming at such a brilliant time in my life and I feel like I have made it. I am so proud to be 40,” said an ecstatic Annmarie to The Clare Champion.
“I went for a dress that was a vintage pattern and a vintage design and it embraces being a woman and I think that is very important. I think you should be yourself. We are all women and we should be proud of it,” she continued.
Judging this year’s competition were three of the best known names in the Irish fashion industry; Bairbre Power, fashion editor of the Irish Independent and executive editor of the Irish Independent Weekend magazine, model and Xposé presenter Glenda Gilson and PJ Gibbons, editor, Social and Personal Magazine.
They were joined by well-known faces from the Galway fashion scene, Patricia McCrossan, managing director Galway NOW, Mandy Maher, Catwalk Model Agency and Fiona Durkin, fashion consultant with Anthony Ryan Ltd.
The judges were on the lookout for a Best Dressed Lady with an innate sense of style who could put together a winning ensemble, appropriate to both the wearer and the occasion.
“People say it gets more and more difficult but when you have a lot of judges, you are always going to have argy-bargy. Unlike previous years, this year’s decision was pretty clear-cut and we didn’t really have that always in the past. We were all on the same wavelength as we were all looking for the same thing and that was classic dressing and just looking really smart but also being really comfortable. It was very clear cut,” said PJ Gibbons.
For everyone who got it right, there was someone who got it wrong, he revealed.
“There was some confusion when you went out there and looked in the crowd. Some people were dressed for weddings, others for going to a nightclub and others for race meetings. Something that works for races is very different to something you are going out in later on in the night. If you wear something for going out at night and think you might be in the running for the best dressed, you’d be wrong. There was a lot of that, not dressing for the right occasion,” he continued.
“One other thing was that we did spot, although we get this every year, amazing outfits, looking great, really well put together and fake tan gone wrong. It isn’t even subtle but it is completely gone wrong and is all in blotches and takes away completely from the outfit,” he added.
Clare woman Audrey Rochford, from University Pharmacy and Rochford’s pharmacies in Ennis, kept a close eye on the style stakes.
“The style was fabulous. Every year it gets better and better. There were some fabulous hats, better hats this year, totally unique in design, some very tailored outfits, some very flamboyant outfits so it was very varied but very, very stylish,” she commented.
“We had a make-up station here giving touch-ups but I think every one was really well presented and really looked the part. That is the whole thing about being best dressed; it is not just about having the right handbag or the right hat, it is about being totally turned out as an outfit and that includes make-up and tan and presentation. The level of tans have definitely improved this year,” she added.
“Overall, the makeup was great. Quite a strong lip featured. There were a lot of red lips. Makeup was very classic, you could say and there was a lot of smokey eye so it was like people were going for 1940s glamour. Some people tried to match their eye make-up to their outfit but I wouldn’t recommend that,” advised Sharon Nugent from Ennis.
“I wouldn’t go cerise pink eyeshadow with a cerise pink dress, I would go smokey instead. It’s a better idea to match the lip to the dress, rather than the eyes,” she concluded.

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