London-based stylist Annie Miall talks about trends, deciphering dress codes and shares her fashion tips

By Heather Cichowski

Annie Miall is a London-based stylist who has dressed a range of women including actresses, athletes, TV personalities and royals for a wide variety of events from red carpets to the Cheltenham Festival. At the latter event, the Aussie native dressed Zara Tindall and Autumn Phillips.

Annie recently spoke with HELLO! Canada about trends for warmer weather, wedding fashion and deciphering tricky dress codes. Additionally, she shared some professional style tips!

HELLO! Canada: What are the trends you're most excited about?

Annie Miall: Pastel colours – I'm drawn to the beautiful new colours: sherbet sweets, lilac, apricot, mint green, dusty blues and pale yellows.

Floaty white dresses: I love the idea of wafty and romantic dresses – lace with exaggerated puff sleeves, high necks with tie details. (But avoid children, pets and red wine!)

PHOTOS: The most dramatic hats at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival races

What are your best fashion tips for summer?

Fit: More than ever, it's important in summer to get the fit of your clothing right. Garments that are overly tight, for instance, will be hot, uncomfortable and unflattering. Look for shapes that skim your curves.

Fabric: Lightweight materials with a bit of structure so they don't cling. Light layers work well. Cotton is more breathable than synthetic fabrics. Go for unlined jackets, skirts and dresses.

Duchess Kate nails summer fashion every year by wearing gorgeous dresses that showcase light, breathable fabrics and show off her impeccable sense of style. Photo: © Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Colour: Lighter colours reflect the light and keep you cooler. Embrace the summer colour palette that is right for your skin tone.

Invest in some beautiful summer accessories e.g. statement sunglasses, a cross-body bag, some metallic sandals and a classic straw hat.

Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion always have great accessories ranges, plus I'm a big fan of independents like IRIS Fashion or Feather & Stitch or other local boutiques who stock a variety of brands.

For more high street alternatives, try Anthropologie, & Other Stories or Monsoon for example. (There are some nice hats on & Other Stories, especially).

Talk to us about the styling process and working with a client. What are the factors that go into coming up with a look?

Before starting work with any client, I undertake a detailed style consultation. This involves looking at a client's body shape, skin tone/colouring, lifestyle, and their expectations, preferences and budget.

The goal is to develop a set of style principles unique to that client, which will guide the selection of fabric, colour and style in garments and accessories.

In coming up with a look for a specific occasion, it's about taking into account these style principles and then looking at any dress code or other requirements that may apply to the event or occasion.

While generally constrained by choosing pieces from collections which are available in store/online, I am lucky enough to work with some amazing designers and milliners who can also offer bespoke designs. I work with so many amazing milliners but these three stand out: Juliette Millinery, Sarah Cant and Sally-Ann Provan.

What were your considerations when coming up with outfits for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival in March?

You can never ignore the weather for Cheltenham Festival! It is notoriously windy and usually cold, so that has to be kept in mind when choosing fabrics and styles a client will wear.

Wherever possible, I like to use British brands, and although Cheltenham doesn't have dress code requirements in the same way that Ascot does, for instance, I still think it's important to come up with looks that feel appropriate to the setting, e.g. country races.

With those considerations in mind, it's then about coming up with an outfit that really complements a client's personal style, body shape and colouring.

Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips on day four, Gold Cup Day, at the Cheltenham races. Photo: © Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

When an event calls for hat, do you typically work on finding the perfect hat first or does it vary?

It varies. I usually start with the dress or coat (depending on the season) and then look for a hat that beautifully completes the look. However, sometimes a hat is so perfect for a client that it becomes the starting point around which you build the outfit.

Again, I'm lucky enough to have built up amazing relationships with talented milliners so coming up with a bespoke design to perfectly match an outfit is always a great option.

What is your general advice to clients and readers trying to figure out a dress code? Is it alright to ask?

It's polite, and in some cases essential, to follow the dress code guidelines for an event if one has been given. There's a wealth of advice online (e.g. Debrett's) to help you with understanding different dress code requirements, but it's also perfectly acceptable to ask the host/organizers for clarification, if required.

While it is good manners to make an effort and can be seen as disrespectful to ignore a host's dress code requests, it's still important to dress in a way that you feel comfortable and that reflects your personality.

For example, if you are happier in a trouser suit or jumpsuit than in a gown, embrace that but just ensure that the fabric and style is appropriate to the occasion.

Also, remember "black tie" doesn't necessarily mean "black dress!"

MORE: Bridal wear line WED talks about its royal links, designing dresses that go beyond a wedding day and COVID-19

What are your tips for finding the best fascinator or hat and for keeping it secure?

My tip is to try on as many shapes as you can to help work out what you like and what suits you. Department stores are a good place to start. Also, go and see milliners. They will help you find the best shape for your face and build, and they are always full of useful tips and ideas.

It's important that you take the time to ensure your hat fits you properly. Milliners are also very clever and have a range of different ways to secure your hat against the elements, including using combs and elastic straps.

Zara Tindall wore a striking bespoke red fascinator by Juliette Millinery for the second day of the Cheltenham Festival in March 2020. Photo: © Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

What's your advice for someone wanting to experiment with a new look and/or style?

I always encourage people to try new styles, keep their looks fresh and contemporary. This doesn't necessarily mean embracing a trend in its entirety but rather incorporate smaller elements into a look.

If you need to prioritize your budget, I would advise spending on investment pieces and look to high street or lower priced brands for experimenting with new looks.

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