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You can't move for glossy coats and silky manes at the races, equines or otherwise.

Forget insider tips, if you're wanting to come out on top at one of the British social calendar's race-day events, you need a winning hairstyle-and-headpiece combo.

For millinery novices, the pursuit of the perfect head accessory can be a daunting task. From Sloane-reminiscent headbands and net-adorned pillboxes to asymmetric wide-brims à la the Duchess of Sussex and glorious, avant-garde creations (thank you, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie), the options are plentiful.

But the key to creating a truly elegant look is harmony. Hairstylist Angela Wright recommends selecting your headpiece first, and then going from there.

MORE: The 10 most stylish Royal Ascot hats of all time 

READ: The 7 best designer hat brands for weddings and races in 2024 

Popular for 2024 

Hair in a red bow ponytail with a hat © Instagram / @hairbyangelawright
Bows are everywhere right now

"Glam", "smooth" and "volume" are some of the key terms that crop up in conversations with her clients when discussing their race-day hair aims, but interestingly, considering how heritage and tradition often play such an important part at such events, some are keen to lean into the latest trends. She predicts that bows, one of this season's leading beauty trends, "will continue to be popular" among racegoers, a coquettish, easy-to-apply, hyper-feminine touch.

Hats and statement fascinators

Hair with an elegant updo alongside dramatic fascinator © Instagram / @milliedonovanhairstylist
An elegant updo is ideal alongside dramatic fascinator designs

With larger, more dramatic hats and fascinators, Angela recommends wearing your hair up, to keep your accessory as the focal point. "Hair down can sometimes look too fussy and distract from the hat or headpiece," she advises. "A simple low sleek bun can be a great option that suits any headwear, particularly under a large hat, or detailed fascinator. Long hair can also be tied into a simple ponytail which looks great under a wide-brimmed or boater hat." 

Asymmetric designs

The Princess of Wales with her hair in a blue floral fascinator © Getty
Low, textured buns can work with asymmetric pieces

Percher-style hats are best suited to looks "with hair up higher on the back of the head to show off the headpiece and enhance the head shape, particularly if the dress has a high neckline". These styles are often asymmetric, calling for balance – Angela recommends wearing the hair on the opposite side to the hat, "or central and all up, so that the focus is on the hat".

Headbands and finer headpieces

Tanya Burr wearing white headband and printed floral dress© Getty
Headbands are great for race-day beginners

For headbands and finer headpieces, you can afford to be slightly more elaborate with texture. "They lend themselves to hair down in dressed out smooth curls or waves, a nice smooth blow dry or a half-up style where the sides of the hair are swept back from the face and secured with the headband." Smaller, less ambitious headpieces are great for millinery novices, but can still look extremely effective.

How to keep your style looking perfect

Hair in a bun with pearl accents © Instagram / @kasia_fortuna
Pearls can add a beautiful, textural element

"Avoid touching and fiddling with your hair to help it last all day," she says. "If you are blow drying hair yourself, always ensure each section is 100% dry and if using heated tools, allow the hair to cool completely before brushing out. Or at the salon, ask your stylist to leave setting clips in to hold curls until you are ready to leave when you can remove them yourself."

If the weather is unforgiving, and let's be clear, if your event is UK-based this is a definite possibility, hair up is probably the most easily maintained option. "Hair spray is your best friend, and styles can be set in place with a gel or setting spray such as Paul Mitchell's Freeze and Shine Super Spray to make your hair last all day."

Louise Roe with a daisy fascinator and a low ponytail © Getty
Let your fascinator do the talking, layered over a low pony

"When going to the hairdressers, consider what you are wearing: always take your hat or headpiece with you to enable your stylist to work around it. They will ensure any elastic or headbands are covered."

Another stylist-approved key tip? Be practical. Check that your dress will go on easily once you have had your hair done, and if not, wear it to your appointment. Failing that, "a cardigan or loose clothing that will come off over your head" is in order, your best bet at not disturbing your style, and helping it last throughout the day.