Fashion and racing unite again as the annual search for the most sartorially stunning race-goer to attend so-called “ladies’ day” meets launches next week at Wetherby.
Just to be clear, the competition is open to women only (although it might be fun to see what would happen if any fabulously dressed men decided to take part), all ages, all shapes and sizes, and it’s all about high fashion, both on-trend and classically elegant.
The bar is high, the standard having been set by last year’s winner Julie Short, who stood out from the field both at the Beverley heat and the grand final itself, wearing an elegant monochrome outfit.
“You don’t enter for yourself at Beverley,” says Julie, who is a local authority care co-ordinator. “You’re just there and the judges walk around and pick.”
Julie and her husband, Steve, who has his own plumbing business, are keen race-goers as a couple, although Ladies’ Days are girls-only affairs. “I love the races. I always go to Ladies Day with all my friends. We go for lunch before,” she says.
Although she had been picked out once before, this was the first time that Julie had won the heat. She made the outfit herself - a black and white pencil skirt dress with peplum and overlaid lace. “I just had an idea in my head of what I wanted, and the more I did, the more ideas fell into it as well, like the symmetry, the fine details.”
Julie also made her headpiece and makes fascinators to order under her label Divine Fascination. Although she makes clothes only for herself, friends have suggested that she try out for the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee. “It would be right up my street,” she says, adding that she studied art and fashion design at Beverley College after leaving school.
“I went into social care instead, but I’ve always had the training and the love for it. I’ve never not sewn,” she says. Indeed, one of Julie’s two daughters danced as a child and so she made countless costumes, for her and other children.
Julie hasn’t decided yet what she will wear to the next Beverley Ladies’ Day, which is in August, but she thoroughly enjoyed modelling the clothes from Yasmine of Bawtry & Epworth for the shoot featured here, as well as spending the £500 clothes voucher that the shop donated as a prize. “My husband acted as assistant. It was such a good experience,” she says.
Emma Morris, partner at Yasmine of Bawtry & Epworth, was on hand to help and says: “‘When looking for a winning outfit we not only look at the dress but how the complete look has been put together, paying attention to the use of accessories like jewellery, headwear and shoes to create that ‘wow’ factor.”
So what does last year’s winner think makes a potential Best Dressed Racegoer outfit? Julie says: “It’s difficult to say. Some people go OTT with everything, and it’s way too much. I spend time looking at celebrity style stories and sometimes, less is more. Keep it classic, simple, elegant.”
As for finding that wow factor? “You’ve got to wear it with confidence in yourself as well. As with celebrities, you can see two people wearing the same outfit and they look completely different. How you wear it makes a big difference.”
All clothes from Yasmine of Bawtry & Epworth, see www.Yasmineofbawtry.com
Bespoke fascinators by Julie Short: Facebook: DivineFascination
Location: The Best Western Premier Mount Pleasant Hotel, Doncaster.
Photography: Louise Pollard, www.louisepollard.co.uk