Getting ready for the Met

For years J&B Met party-and-racegoers have been going over the top (OTT). This year, on January 29 at the Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town, many will most likely leave the event with a “fashion victim” tag.

With the theme Larger Than Life, revellers have a licence to wear OTT hats and dresses with ridiculously long trails.

Unfortunately, one can only go so big until they become fashion horrors instead of fashion hits.

Fortunately, fashion stylists and image consultants are keen to offer advice on dressing for the theme to those who’ll be attending.

Leanne Bonthuys, a personal shopper and image consultant at Stuttafords International in Sandton, Johannesburg, says: “When I think of ‘larger than life’ I think of luxury, wealth, extravagance and pride.

I see lots of volume and layers of fabric, but don’t over do it.”

She adds: “I see lots of diamonds and big hats, large pearls and jewellery, but be practical as the day is long and you have to endure your outfit the whole day.”

According to Bonthuys, you also do not want your outfit to wear you. You need to wear your outfit and this goes for accessories and make-up too.

“Rich jewel-tone colours this season. Add false eye-lashes but do not go overboard, you don’t want to look like a drag queen!”

As for the guys, Bonthuys suggests tail-coats, top hats and pocket watches.

“Something very Alice in Wonderland,” she says.

Samantha Mackinnon, fashion stylist and owner of personal styling consultancy To-Feel in Cape Town, says: “J&B Met falls on one of our hottest times of the year, which means we have to keep our outfits as cool and comfortable as possible.

There’s a lot of socialising that happens on the day between celebs and normal folk.”

For the gents, she suggests cool linens. “Bang it up with some amazing tall hats and huge accessories. It’s easier for the men.”

For the ladies, she says, “keep style in mind”. “Keep it simple yet bold.

Think tall and funky hats, blingy tops, large accessories, puffy dresses, bold colours, large hairstyles and bold shoes.

“We love shoes, so it’s a must for the day, maybe bring an extra comfy pair for later in the day.”

She adds: “We have to remember that garments need to fit and flatter.

Don’t overdo it, when you look like a Christmas tree, that is when you have to stop.”

Alice Dunkley, fashion and image consultant at The Wardrobe Studio and Academy in Cape Town, says: “With a theme such as ‘larger than life’, it’s easy to get carried away with trying to create the largest, loudest outfit possible, but it’s important to keep a few rules in mind so you look fabulous rather than foolish in your finery.”

While over the top is definitely called for, it’s important to choose a look that complements you with regards to style, personality, cut and colour tone, says Dunkley, adding that men need to keep it sophisticated while adding drama to their look with a tall hat and edgy sunglasses.

Hopefully the above tips will put a stop to disasters.

It’s never too late to make tweaks, nips and tucks to your envisioned costume.

» For more tips from other stylists, visit

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