Special occasion expert and award-winning personal stylist Nicola Davis is our guest blogger:

Whether you’re mother of the bride, planning a day at the races or attending some other special occasion, rule number one is to make sure you start shopping as early as you can.  This will give you time to find the perfect outfit or dress and not get panicked into buying something you’re not entirely happy with.

A special occasion generally means there will be lots of photographs. Of course, you want them to show you at your best. Make sure that you stand out for all the right reasons and not because your outfit is out of place or doesn’t flatter you. If possible, take a critical look at some photos of yourself dressed up for a previous special occasion. This will help you assess which outfits worked well and which were less successful and why.

In fact, it’s a good idea to take a photo of yourself in an outfit you’re considering buying. Many times, women who have come to me for a style consultation have told me that it was only when they looked back on photos they realised how unflattering some of the past outfits were.

Special occasion dressing – Nicola’s top tips

1 Your Personality
Be yourself. Don’t be tempted to go frivolous and flowery if you feel better in something simple. Equally, just because it’s smart it doesn’t mean you have to go classic or matchy-matchy. Think about what works for you. Being yourself will help you feel more comfortable and really enjoy the occasion.

2 Colour Confidence
If you’ve had your colours analysed you’ll know exactly which your “wow” colours are but, if not, I’d suggest choosing a shade that you’ve worn and loved previously.

3 Styles
You don’t have to be absolutely on trend. It is more important that you choose something that ticks all the boxes for YOU and ultimately makes you look good. Remember, you will probably be living with the photos for years to come.

Think about things such as what length you should go for, where the waist is, sleeves or no sleeves and whether these are right for your shape and style. There has been criticism of too much flesh on show at Ascot in recent years. Keeping it on the side of respectable looks more stylish and elegant. On the practical side of things, if you’re going to spend any time outside, I would recommend that you have some sort of co-ordinating wrap/cardigan/jacket that you can wear if the weather’s not great. After all, it’s no fun shivering all day!

Special occasion accessories – Nicola’s top tips

1 Hats or Fascinators?
Fascinators are popular but are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm). You could instead opt for a percher; more substantial than a fascinator but not quite a hat. The Duchess of Cambridge has been favouring perchers recently, so they have the royal seal of approval.

If it’s a very special occasion though, why not go the whole hog and invest in a fabulous hat? There are a few rules to follow and your height and scale (you will be either petite, average or grande) are key. Your hat shape should complement your face shape and the brim should not extend beyond your shoulders. Petite ladies should be especially careful with this. You will want to choose a flattering colour that works with your outfit, but it doesn’t have to be the same colour. Beware of black trims as they can throw an unflattering shadow on your face.

2 Finishing Touches
Shoes can make or break an outfit, so it’s important to get them right. Don’t cripple yourself in spikey, skyscraper heels if you’re not used to them. A kitten heel or wedge will be more comfortable and make walking on damp grass – this is Britain, after all! – easier and more elegant.  Always wear new shoes around the house to break them in before your big occasion. The Rainbow Club collection of special occasion shoes have extra padding to make them comfy to wear all day. Even better, they can be dyed in any colour you wish!

Finish your outfit with some carefully selected jewellery and a bag or clutch in a complementary colour (it doesn’t have to match your shoes and/or hat) and you’ll be good to go!

Need help?
Shopping for that special outfit should be a pleasure, not a chore. Let me show you the colours and styles that work best for your unique colouring, shape, scale and proportions so that you will look and feel fabulous  Please visit www.mypersonalstyle.co.uk to find out how I can help.