Experts called in for Cup Day makeover
With so many different trends, styles and options, the girl next door needs a bit of expert help to prepare for her first Cup Day, writes Francesca Lee.
It took me two minutes to get dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and Skechers ballet flats for my big makeover.
They were going to put me in completely different clothes anyway, and I didn't want to fiddle with far too many complicated zippers and buttons in the dressing room.
The right underwear was of utmost importance. When in doubt, fashion magazines always say go for nude-coloured underwear.
My hair was a lost cause (long, fine, limp, with plenty of flyaway bits) and I scraped it back into its usual ponytail. It would take a miracle worker to make it look good.
Fashion's a hobby, and if I'm not having fun, then I'm not doing it right, so I wasn't nervous about getting a makeover. After all, I was the blank canvas that artists would work on.
I met Ballantynes by-appointment stylist Michelle Anderson, who would help me pick out my frock, shoes, accessories and headgear.
Ballantynes had just launched a personal styling and shopping programme for their customers, and Anderson had plenty of Cup Day appointments lined up.
She took note of my hair colour (brown), eye colour (brown), height (almost short enough to be an extra in The Hobbit), size, age, skin tone and my personal aesthetic (minimalist with a penchant for bold colours), and put it all on a form.
"You need bold, vibrant colours for your skin tone," she told me after I tried on a red peplum dress by Cue that I could not afford. It was the second dress I'd tried.
The first one, a white peplum dress with black edging, washed me out, she said.
Peplum, obviously, is in this season. The dress had details around the chest and neckline, which flattered my small bust, and the peplum gave me more of an hourglass figure, said Anderson.
The dress was matched with a pair of maroon satin peeptoe ankle-strap pumps, which brought out the dash of maroon in the dress's peplum details.
Anderson gave me a little box satin-clutch with narrow black and white stripes and a black and white hat with slight stripe details to match. To finish off, she chose two bangles; one black and one silver.
Next was hair and makeup with Lisa Humphrey, of Solace Hair and Beauty inside Ballantynes.
My eyebrows were waxed and plucked and then Humphrey prepared my hair with hairspray and rollers.
Apparently, you're not supposed to condition your hair before having it styled.
"The products have a lot of silicon in it and it makes your hair look shiny, but for styling you need your hair a bit grittier," Humphrey said.
However, that was OK; hairspray would fix that.
While my hair set, she did my makeup. She put primer on my face to make the foundation stick better.
"With foundation, less is more on Cup Day," she said.
"People hate that mask look."
She also emphasised the importance of sunscreen.
Humphrey gave me false eyelashes for a dramatic look, and for the first time during my makeover, I was a little nervous.
A friend nearly stuck her eyelids together while applying false lashes. Luckily, it didn't happen to me, although I kept on feeling there was something in my eye.
I chose to go with the bold lip rather than the bold eye.
"Coral red is in this season," Humphrey said. She lined my lips with neutral pencil and powdered them in between layers of lipstick.
My hair, now stiff with product, was transformed into a coif with relaxed side chignon.
"Because the rest of your outfit is structured, you hair should be a bit structured too."
By the end of it, I didn't look like me. It was all a little too dramatic; too bold. But hey, it's the races. If there was no drama, what fun would there be?