Dubai World Cup: hats and fashion must-haves

Top tips for race-day style from London milliner Ana Pribylova, plus hats from Itam by King's Signature and Designs by Christiane

A hat from Ana Bella Millinery
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The Dubai World Cup returns to Meydan Racecourse on Saturday March 30, for its 18th outing. The thrill of watching the races aside, the event is something of a fashion showcase, with evermore stylish, often ostentatious, outfits and hats appearing each year.    

London milliner Ana Pribylova, who is one of the style judges at the event this year, shares her advice on getting race-day ready.

“Start small if you have never worn a hat before or on a regular basis. Having said that, you need to feel good in your hat; confidence is key. If you are brave and want a big hat, just go for it,” she says.  

The founder of Ana Bella Millinery, who designed the hats for guests attending Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding last year, adds: "Classic styles are always on trend, but one's personality plays a huge role. For Meghan Markle's wedding, for example, some of the guests opted for small side berets – classic elegance – but others went for larger side-sweeping hats with flowers and feather trims.

epa07088377 British super model Cara Delevingne arrives for the royal wedding ceremony of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain, 12 October 2018.  EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA
British super model Cara Delevingne arrives for the royal wedding ceremony of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank at Windsor Castle, on October 12, 2018. EPA

“The more daring can look to Cara Delevingne, who actually wore a top hat to Princess Eugenie’s wedding. So the options are endless and inspiring. For the Dubai World Cup, also consider that if you are staying on for the evening celebrations [and Gwen Stefani’s after-race concert], a big-brimmed hat might get in the way unless you have somewhere to store it.”

Ana Bella has sent across 15 hats and fascinators to Dubai ahead of race day, which are now available to view and try on at Meydan Hotel.

BurJuman, meanwhile, has an exhibition of hats from Itam by King's Signature from Nigeria, and Designs by Christiane from the UK, until Friday. Nigerian milliner Asim-Ita Kingsley says his background as an architect helps him "focus on form and visualise my creations in 3D even before I've made them, which is a helpful aid because a hat is only as good as its fit".

Click though race-day-perfect headwear in the gallery below: 

Fit aside, headwear ought to be a study in balance, suggests Pribylova. “Styling a hat requires balancing the face shape, outfit and height. For a shorter lady, I would suggest a piece that elongates her, using trim or feathers that flow up. Taller women may not want to look any taller, so I would suggest a smaller beret type hat,” she explains. “At the moment there is a trend of spiky geometric patterns made with feathers. Veiling has also been in trend since last year, which I love; it makes you feel very feminine.”

Over at Harvey Nichols – Dubai, the style team have put together a race-day capsule, complete with equestrian-­inspired handbags from Chloe, stylish yet comfy footwear from Attico and Malone Souliers, chic Roksanda gowns, shimmering Attico blouses and swishy Zimmermann skirts, and even a range of embellished hair pins from Valere if you want to skip headwear this year.

If you can trust yourself to keep your whites clean, consider the ecru jumpsuit from Alice & Olivia, which will allow you to have a play with various prints and colours when it comes to your hat. Alternately, look to the multi-hued Melda gathered midi skirt, and pair it with a simple black fascinator.

“Pick out a hat from a colour in your dress. For example, if your outfit has pink flowers on a black background, match your accessories, shoes, hat and handbag to the pink,” says Pribylova. “If you want to make it easy, do a single all-over colour, such as dusty pink, pale blue or cream, which are on trend and safe. Fuchsia, yellow and cobalt are also quite striking. And remember,” she adds, “racing fashion does not equal evening wear or night-club outfits. Modest, elegant mid-length dresses lend themselves well to the Dubai World Cup, not mini-skirts or satin ballgowns.”

Dubai World Cup is at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, March 30. Gates open at noon, with the first of the nine races starting at 3.45pm and the main Dubai World Cup race at 8.40pm. For tickets, call 04 327 2110 or email