Getting all dressed up to the nines doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For Malton racehorse trainer Ruth Jefferson, choosing an outfit for a race day usually poses no problem at all. Unless, that is, it’s a Ladies Day. And as for nine Yorkshire Ladies Days? Well, that would challenge even the most extensive and glamorous of wardrobes.
First and foremost, the racecourse is a second home and a place of work for Ruth, and she dresses accordingly. “I had 15 pairs of the same brand of black trousers at the last count,” she said. “Being practical is a must. There’s no point wearing a skirt that’s too tight for me to leg the jockey up.”
Indeed not. Ruth, who took over the training licence from her late father Malcolm, puts the needs of the horses and staff first, so, as much as she likes to follow what’s on-trend, fashion is not always a priority.
“I need to be smart yet comfortable and able to work,” she said. “It’s a balance between being able to be hands-on with the horses but presentable to the owners and in the racecourse enclosures. I only wear white trousers if we’re running a grey.”
But Ladies Day at the races is always a special event, one that requires thought, effort and perhaps a little bit of courage and confidence, certainly if you want to get noticed for all the right reasons. So, when invited to Royal Ascot last year, Ruth turned to social media for sartorial guidance. “Can I wear trousers?” she asked. “Mum says no but I haven’t got a dress.” Ah.
And so, for this year’s season of Go Racing in Yorkshire Ladies Days, Ruth has decided to seek expert advice.
Make no mistake, Ladies Days in Yorkshire are seriously glamorous events. Each of the nine racecourses in Yorkshire is taking part and each is offering major prizes for their Best Dressed Lady Racegoer. The first competition is at Wetherby on Thursday, May 30, and they continue across the county throughout the summer until the final Ladies Day at Doncaster on Friday, September 13. It is unique to Yorkshire that all nine winners from the county’s nine racecourses are then invited to attend a Grand Final at Doncaster. This year it takes place on Saturday, October 26, where the nine winners (plus a guest each) will be wined and dined in a private box for the day and then go head to head for the title of Go Racing In Yorkshire’s Best Dressed Lady 2019. The winner receives a diamond ring worth £2,000 from LoveVintageDiamonds.com, a two-night spa break at the Best Western Mount Pleasant Hotel and a £500 clothing voucher from new sponsor, Incognito.
It was to Incognito that Ruth turned for style guidance and inspiration. Based in Bawtry, near Doncaster, this independent boutique has been dressing its keen racing clientele for more than 30 years.
“Doncaster racecourse is just up the road and both my sister Bernie and I are regular racegoers” said Jackie Reynolds, joint partner.
“We stock collections from very well-known designer brands, plus we are always careful to guide clients as we know that friends will be attending the same social events and don’t want to be wearing the same dress as someone else. Our personal service also helps to mitigate any fashion faux pas,” she added.
The sisters, who say they have an eye for knowing what will suit customers as soon as they walk through the door, took on the challenge of dressing Ruth and her mum Sue Jefferson for a fashion shoot to launch Go Racing in Yorkshire Ladies Day season. In particular, Ruth and Sue are looking forward to York’s Ebor meeting and Ladies Day on Thursday, August 22.
“We’ve always loved going to York,” said Sue, “It’s a fantastic racecourse and it comes at a time when we are less busy at home so can relax and enjoy ourselves among colleagues and friends”.
Ruth, whose initials are NRJ (her first name is actually Nicola) added: “I live in jodhpurs and a fleece, so it’s really nice to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve worn things at Incognito that I wouldn’t normally pick up in a shop and I’m pleasantly surprised by the outcome.”
Students from the White Rose College of Beauty came along to help with hair and make-up.
Ruth’s verdict? “I definitely look younger and must try harder on a daily basis.”
Clothing by Incognito, Bawtry. Hair and make-up by White Rose Beauty Colleges supervised by tutor Pamela Clare, www.whiterosebeautycolleges.co.uk
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