COOKIES ON Meath Chronicle

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Meath Chronicle website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.


Winner all right: 'I just love fashion', says perennial Ladies' Day victor

Story by Paul Neilan

Wednesday, 18th May, 2011 4:49pm

Winner all right: 'I just love fashion', says perennial Ladies' Day victor

Maria wins Ladies' Day at Punchestown in classic style.

The winner of the Punchestown ladies' day is a familiar face around Navan, or almost as likely your feet might be familiar to her.

Maria McCullen-Harvey, who runs the Navan Foot and Ankle Clinic, hit national front pages after Punchestown recently but this was far from her first time.

Originally from the Stamullen/Bellewstown area, the genial podiatrist estimates that, over the years she has amasssed numerous prizes from ladies' days around the country. "It could be more," she says with a slightly embarrassed smile.

Maria's interest in podiatry took her north of the border to Queens University, Belfast, in the 1990s at the tail end of the Troubles as there were no such courses in the south.

It was obviously a big decision based on personal philosophy that can be seen in her style choices. For Maria, it's all about being comfortable in herself, and that confidence informs her winning looks.

After she qualifed, she returned south, and to Navan. Her business, like Maria and her customers, has been on its feet since 1996 and is still standing strong.

So what's her secret? "I just love fashion, and I mean that," says the mother-of-one. "For Punchestown, I went up for the day up with my mother, just for a day out, and it was a complete shock. I'm not competitive with it. I've always stuck to my own style and I don't follow trends.

"Some trends just wouldn't work with me anyway, definitely not, so I've always stuck to my own style. Style over fashion, totally. I just never follow trends but I like the fact that more vintage is coming back, it's definitely, much more elegant, floral, very girly and womanly and I like that."

At Punchestown, she wore a cream coat, which was a gift from her husband, and a vintage floral hat from Rhinestones and shoes from LK Bennett.

She won a €10,000 Arnotts voucher as well as an overnight stay in a suite in Dublin's Gresham Hotel with champagne afternoon tea, a bottle of Laurent Perrier and a personal shopping appointment at Arnotts. Of the winning outfit, she could have gotten away with "what, this old thing?"

"It's not competitive, it's fun - most definitely. this year, I didn't buy anything; it's what I had in my wardrobe...the hat is three years-old, the coat is five years-old, I just put it together," she added.

So what does the Punchestown ladies' day recommend for the festival? "For events like these, there are no designers that are a safe bet, defintely not. Over the years, if you look at it, you could win in a miniskirt and a nice top or whatever. It's not designers, it's how you wear it, if you look comfortable - that's the key, I think. Look comfortable in yourself.

"Once you're comfortable, you're stylish and you just hold yourself better, you exude it. You would see people who you know are not comfortable and put them in a tracksuit and they're gorgeous because they're comfortable.

"Dress for the weather! Dress appropriately because there is nothing worse than going in evening wear or with an off-the-shoulder number and it's freezing and lashing rain and all you can see is goosebumps.

"Off the shoulder, cocktail dresses, evening wear are an absolute no-no for me. The weather is the biggest thing. Regarding age, dress appropriately, dress for your age. I can't go now and wear a small mini-skirt or whatever because it would look ridiculous, you know?"

The former Galway ladies' day winner is obviously comfortable on her feet, unsurprising for a podiatrist, but is keen to emphasise the importance of not straying too far when spending a few bob.

"Whenever possible, I buy locally. I mean, I'm very conscious that that's why I'm here, word of mouth and local customers are vital to me. I'd go to support all the local boutiques right up to buying meat off my local butcher," she says.

Style icons like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly seem to be the inspiration, with their timeless looks: "Vintage every time, quality over quantity," she says. "I'd always wait for the right outfit."

On the track and in the clinic, that style of thinking seems to have paid off.

Post a Comment

blog comments powered by Disqus