Ladies Day – The History Of The Hat

Best Dressed Colour Dress

Outright Betting

Galway Races’ Ladies Day has become a bit of a phenomenon in itself over the years, even overshadowing the main race of the day at times. What started out as a day for women to dress up and look their absolute finest has become a religion for some fashionistas.

Women have made attending Ladies Day and competing for the prize of Best Dressed their hobby. Many hopefuls travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland to enter, spending obscene amounts of money on each of their perfectly put-together ensembles.

Racing has been closely associated with the Royal family and the dress code for race-goers has stemmed from their high standards of attire.

Ladies Day began in the 1800s at the Royal Ascot, where George III and Queen Charlotte would attend the Gold Cup on the third day of the meeting. Race-goers had to adhere to a strict dress code: for men a top hat and morning dress and for women shoulders and midriffs must be covered and a hat or fascinator must be worn.

The women of the Royal Family have been idealised for centuries by fashion lovers. To this day they are sprawled across every paper and magazine for their style.

Ladies Day’s became a way for women to embody their inner princess and feel on par with the glamorous royal women attending the races and more importantly the queen. Who doesn’t want to feel like a queen?

Eventually this sensation found its way across the water to the Emerald Isle and we were hooked.

There are currently 26 key Ladies Days throughout the racing calendar, with the Galway Races’ Ladies Day the Gold Cup of them all. No old Pennys or Savida frock will suffice, no; vintage, vintage dresses are the key to standing out on the day and turning the heads of the judges.

Prizes range from €150 or a two night break at a luxurious spa to an astonishing €15,000. Needless to say the gloves come off, figuratively speaking but gloves are actually a stately addition to these outfits.

The hats are another key element to a Ladies Day outfit that have, over the years, taken on a whole new life of their own.

You will witness the good, the bad and the downright ridiculous headpieces around, some leaving you to wonder how they keep their heads up! Nevertheless it has kept milliners in business and what a fantastic thing it is; it would be a shame to see such a fine craft die out because hats are no longer ‘in style’.

Fashion changes constantly but Ladies Days will not succumb to this summer’s latest trend, it sticks to that classic 1800’s vintage style and takes us back in time, which is what makes it such a great tradition in racing and a wonderful spectacle.