Amid the mountains of turkey, cranberries, chocolate and pudding, there's a wholly glamorous side to Yuletide festivities: the racing circuit. St Stephen's Day sees big racing events at Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal among others, and the ladies will be showing off their finery.
Some attendees will undoubtedly be thinking about the Best Dressed award at the festivities. These prizes often run to five figures, so it's no wonder that the circuit is also fiercely competitive. Here, three high-profile winners reveal what lead them to their Ladies Day accolade, while serial judge Rosanna Davison also explains what routinely catches her eye...
Helen Murphy (39) lives in Cork. In July, she won the Ladies Day Best Dressed accolade at the Galway Races.
She is a secondary school teacher and also runs a fashion blog, Daily Diva Diary (facebook.com/dailydivadiary).
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"My outfit was definitely last minute - but I thought it came together really well in the end. Certainly, I was incredibly comfortable, which is so important. If you're pulling and tugging at your outfit all day, worrying about a bulge here and there, it's going to show in the way you carry yourself.
So I loved that my midi skirt - which came from Coast - had pockets. And my Aisling Maher neck-piece had been in my wardrobe for a year-and-a-half but it just worked brilliantly with the look I wanted to achieve.
The night before the Galway Races, I was in Dunnes when I spotted a necklace. I bought it and when I got home, I broke it up and stuck it to my headpiece. It was perfect!
My advice to anyone looking to bag a Best Dressed prize is let the outfit reflect your personality. I love midi skirts - Coast do great ones but so do Penneys and Asos for more affordable pieces. I also used Pinterest: I knew I wanted a 1940s Dior-type vibe and I was able to create my look after being inspired by what I saw on social media.
Finally - enjoy yourself and have fun! Don't take it too seriously and if you love your look, that's ultimately all that matters."
Julie Muldowney (28) is a nurse from Co Kilkenny. In June, she was awarded Best Dressed at the Littlewoods Ladies Day at the Gowran Park Racecourse.
"I decided to rent a Rachel Gilbert dress from Covet Boutique in Dublin's Powerscourt Town Centre for about €150. Renting instead of buying meant I could really wear the dress I wanted.
Then I had a hat from Faith Amond in Co Carlow - it was a display item she had, so she allowed me to take it for the day, complimentary. I wore a pair of Karen Millen shoes which I'd bought at Kildare Village. I took a gorgeous Valentino clutch from my mum's wardrobe without asking first - she soon found out about it in the papers, though as I returned it in perfect condition so she didn't mind!
As the dress had a high-mesh neckline and sleeves, I kept my accessories simple: just a row of pearl bracelets and simple pearl earrings.
I think when it comes to impressing the judges, it's important to bring your outfit back to the dress itself. So many people now start off with the hat and then work their way down, but I think headpieces should complement the clothing, rather than the other way around. Don't go overboard with accessories, and don't go too OTT with bright colours. You want to be subtle."
Catriona Hanley (34) is an oncology nurse at the Mater Private Hospital. Originally from Raheen in Co Limerick, in June she won a prize worth €20,000 at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh Racecourse.
"I never usually go to the races, but my cousin decided to hold her hen party at the Curragh this year, so a big group of us went along.
Admittedly, the prizes on offer had caught my eye in the run-up to Ladies Day. There was a €3,000 Brown Thomas shopping voucher, Boodles jewellery, a five-star trip to Dubai and a night in the Marker Hotel, so they were pretty impressive!
At one stage, I was tapped on the shoulder and was told that I'd made the final line-up.
The rest of the finalists seemed to all know each other; there's definitely a Ladies Day 'circuit' with the same dozen or so faces cropping up at all the big racing day events.
Before I knew it, my name was being read out and suddenly there I was being paraded around with Made In Chelsea's Millie Mackintosh. I think I won simply because my outfit stood out on the day itself - the fact that my Bastyan dress was cream made it nice and bright. Then my Mary Katrantzou jacket really popped too.
My headpiece was by Mark T Burke and I bought my shoes in the Brown Thomas sale. They were by LK Bennett. I got my hair done the morning of the event too - I was really glad I did because it meant it had stayed in place all day.
It's really important to be comfortable in your dress. If you're in something too tight or too short, you're never going to truly shine. I always say that I'll never again enter another Ladies Day - but I did buy a beautiful Victoria Beckham dress with my winning Brown Thomas voucher so you never know - that might make an appearance next year!"
Rosanna Davison (30) has judged more than a dozen Best Dressed competitions. She lent her expertise to the 2013 Fairyhouse Easter Festival.
"At this time of year, I always think it's important to dress appropriately.
Winter doesn't have to mean wearing black. Work with dark green, navy, red, burgundy and purple to achieve a festive look that isn't dull. It's vital too to go for something that's flattering and that suits your shape and size: you want to look comfortable in yourself. There's also no need to go and buy a whole new outfit. Sometimes a racing day look can be quite formal and you mightn't necessarily wear the pieces regularly, so there's no point in spending a fortune.
Experiment with a few different styles beforehand and don't go overboard. Less is always more.
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