IF ever there’s an excuse for dressing up it’s Ladies Day at the races. On Saturday, the region’s glitterati dressed to impress in glamorous dresses and show-stopping hats for the Matalan Beeswing Ladies Day at Newcastle Racecourse.
It is one of the most popular social occasions in the racing calendar where visitors are invited to don their most fabulous frocks to become the Best Dressed Lady.
A team of fashion scouts spent the day scouring the racecourse for the Matalan Best Dressed Ladies competition before judges, Lesley Middlemiss-Lister, of Tyne Tees Models, The Journal’s fashion writer Liz Lamb and Paula Hartland, of sponsors Hays Travel, chose the final 10.
Paula said: “We were looking for originality and for people who really stood out.
“It was a challenge because there were so many stylish ladies on the day.
“The top 10 finalists really stood out for us.”Related content
The Best Dressed Lady was named as Victoria Bainbridge, 35, a residential officer, from South Shields, who was celebrating her hen do at Ladies’ Day.
Lesley said: “We thought her dress matched her personality, bright and lovely, and Victoria had made a real effort to be different.
“Everything matched, from her fascinator to her bag, shoes and accessories.”
Victoria won £1,500 of Hays Travel vouchers, £500 of Matalan vouchers, a stay at Hotel Du Vin Newcastle, plus a photo shoot and makeover with Tyne Tees Models and four racing tickets at Newcastle Racecourse.
Second prize went to Claire Battista, 37, of Cramlington, and third prize was awarded to Suzi Chambers, 46, of Sunderland.
Here, eight of the top 10 finalists talk about their individual looks (two of the finalists did not turn up for the final judging).
VICTORIA Bainbridge, 35, of South Shields.
The residential officer looked stunning in a Grecian-style orange frock with matching fascinator, gold bag, shoes and belt.
She said: "My dress is by a fashion designer called Mark Melia from Liverpool. I got it made especially for Ladies’ Day. My partner is from Liverpool and I am really inspired by the fashion there.
"I really fancied this colour, it’s really striking. I like to be different from other people.
"I’m overwhelmed that I won. I’ve never won anything like this before.
"I’m getting married in five weeks and I’m celebrating my hen do at Ladies’ Day. This has made it extra-special. I’m ecstatic."
Claire Battista, 37, of Cramlington.
Claire chose a dress from French Connection for her Ladies’ Day look.
She said: "I had been planning my outfit for a while, as all of us ladies do. I’m really pleased."
Suzi Chambers, 46, a market researcher, from Sunderland.
Suzi stood out in an emerald green dress with matching gloves and worn with a gold bag and gold shoes. The showpiece of her outfit was an eye-catching hat decorated with peacock feathers by milliner Debbie Haynes.
Suzi says: "I had the hat commissioned. I just wanted something different that stood out.
"I got the hat and then planned my outfit around it. I already had the dress in my wardrobe and thought it went perfectly together. The gloves are from Fenwick which I have had for ages.
"I love the hat. I got my hair done at Lisa Marie Hair studio in Sunderland and she styled my hair around the hat and how I was going to wear it.
"I have been in the Top 10 before but never won. I feel like I’m getting a little bit closer each time."
Gemma Taylor, 33, a business partner, from Chester-le-Street, wore a purple silk dress with matching fascinator.
She said: "My dress is from Karen Millen and my fascinator was from Diamond Shoes. I have been planning my outfit for the last six weeks and I am here with my hen party, there’s 28 of us.
"I am getting married next week. I’m ecstatic to be in the final 10.
"I’m on my hen party so I’m as high as a kite, I can’t believe it.
"It’s a shame I didn’t win but to be chosen out of a crowd of 25,000 people is amazing."
Lindsey Bamborough, 30, who works as a head of communications in Newcastle, was also a finalist.
She wore a black shift dress with lime trim and matching jacket and a black hat with lime and black feathers.
Lindsey said: "I got my dress from a little boutique in Jesmond, it’s by a designer called Stephanie. I only got it yesterday.
"My hat was custom-made.
"I belive in Ladies’ Day being about ladies and going for a timeless, classic look and Ladies’ Day is all about having a cracking hat.
"I feel really honoured to be in the final 10, it’s really made my day.
"My sister-in-law Claire also made the final 10 which is brilliant, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know until we all had to come to the presentation area so that was nice."
Karen Barry-Davies, 53, of Newcastle, wowed the judges in a bodice, black skirt and cream and black hat.
The hairdresser said: "My hat is from Me Me Me in Jesmond and my basque is from the Catwalk Collection in Leeds. The skirt and jacket are from Fenwick and I made the bustle myself.
"I found the hat last year at Ladies’ Day and thought ‘that’s a hat for next year’.
"My outfit is quite different. It was lovely to make the final. It’s nice to put in a little bit of effort into your outfit. It was worth it.
Claire Stockton, 41, of Longhorsley, near Morpeth, made the final 10 alongside her sister-in-law Lindsey Bamborough.
She said: "I bought the hat for my brother’s wedding from a little shop in Ponteland and I thought it was perfect to wear to the races. My dress is from Debenhams.
"I was dead chuffed to be chosen from 25,000 people and my sister-in-law is in the final 10 too which is great."
Leanne Wellings, 35, a legal secretary, from Gosforth, wore a beautiful white one-shoulder dress from the Fusion designer collection at Oli.
She said: "My shoes are from the same range and my fascinator is borrowed from a friend. I have been planning my outfit since June.
"It’s important to be organised. Ladies’ Day is a special occasion so it’s important to make an effort and it was great to get this far."