Megan Downes of Saffron Walden was crowned Best Dressed at Newmarket’s last Autumn Style Awards in 2019. With the fashion contest back for 2021, she tells Velvet’s Alice Ryan what it was like to win - and how to put together a podium-worthy outfit
“How exciting that the Style Awards are back! I think as we’ve all been stuck at home in casual wear it’s so nice to have an excuse to get properly dressed up.
“I can’t believe that it’s been two years since the 2019 awards already! I paired a high collar leopard print jumpsuit from ASOS, with an old nude duffle coat I had. Inspired by the beautiful yellow velvet halo headband from Ana Bella millinery I wore a pair of pointed yellow suede stilettos. Classic autumnal tones but with a pop of something!
“It was my first time at the autumn event in 2019, I chose to go following on from the fantastic time I had coming second in the summer. I genuinely entered with my mum for a bit of fun and a nice picture, so it was such a lovely surprise to win and for both of us to be in the top 10! Again, I had such a lovely day and was blown away with the prizes.
“As for top tips. . . Wear something that you feel good and comfortable in to enjoy the day. Remember that we live in England and it’s October (the headband in autumn was a great choice in the wind!) and focus on everything from top to toe, the details and how they compliment each other make such a difference I think.
“I had only just graduated in 2019. Since then I’ve become a full time ecologist so that’s kept me very busy! My partner Marc and I got engaged last October, which was a delightful surprise and we still have an excuse to celebrate because of lockdown! All whilst looking after and bringing on my lovely ex flat racer Alfie for the past 16 months.
“I’ve so missed getting dressed up during lockdown! We actually had an evening where we all got super dressed up just for fun. I didn’t take part in the virtual one last year as I was working in a takeaway café at the time, but honestly spent all day sneakily scrolling through the gorgeous outfits on Instagram - very jealous of those with a glass of fizz in hand!
“I would love to come to the autumn awards, but it is very dependent on work. If I can then I have some thrifted items that I would love to give a second lease of life - I think sustainable fashion after everyone’s lockdown clear-outs really has legs! I love how the autumn season leads itself to layering textures and colours and prints. If I can’t come then you can bet I’ll be there next year - my fiancé has never been so I have to bring him along to see what it’s all about!
“I would strongly encourage anyone on the fence to get a ticket. It is so nice to get dressed up and it’s such a friendly atmosphere - nothing like the fashion show stereotype! And remember (something I struggled with) that people are only looking at you because they’re like-minded and you look great! You have nothing to lose, what better way to spend a Friday in autumn than with fashion and horse racing?”