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Meeting of elegance and comfort

LADIES days at race meetings across the country don’t appeal to everyone but the Galway Races has other events that offer an outing to women who like to marry style and comfort and to those who want to show off their or their family’s creativity.
Emer O’Flaherty of Shanaway Road,  Ennis, at the Galway Races last year, wearing the sunflower hat she made  herself.  Photograph John KellyFor the second year running, Loughrea milliner Suzie Mahony is supporting and judging the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady Competition at the Galway Races Summer Festival. The competition, which takes place on Monday evening, offers women a change from ladies day, in that it is more understated and is an opportunity to look good and feel comfortable.
“Being most appropriately dressed for the competition on the Monday evening comes down to dressing for an evening meeting at the races. It is not stilettos and short skirts, it is comfortable, stylish, elegant and it is not over the top. It is more elegant than fussy or flash,” explains Suzie, who will be judging the competition alongside Mandy Maher from Catwalk Model Agency.
“I look for the complete look, head-to-toe. I like to see ladies enjoying the race meeting. They are out there to back the horses, to enjoy the whole atmosphere of Ballybrit. It is really about dressing appropriately for the weather as well because at this point we don’t know if we are going to have sunshine and a blazing hot evening or if we are going to have some showers, which can happen at an evening meeting,” Suzie adds.
“Last year’s finalists all looked elegant and appropriately dressed. They looked comfortably dressed for an evening meeting at the races. They weren’t dressed to go to ladies day as such. Nothing is eliminated for ladies day, you have much more colour and vibrancy and huge headwear and stilettos. It is a fabulous day but for a Monday evening race meeting, we are looking for an elegant, appropriate finish to your outfit,” she continues.
The Loughrea woman has always loved the races and so deciding to support this competition last year and again in 2010 was a no-brainer.
“I really enjoyed myself last year. It is great fun walking around judging because you meet all styles and tastes and you also meet all sorts of characters from all over, not just Galway but all over the country. Like everything, you run it and see how it goes and we had a fantastic evening.
“The finalists are brought on stage at 7.30pm with Daithí O Sé and last year we had great fun having a chat with them. Then we announce the winner and she is presented with a hat designed by myself,” Suzie outlines.
Suzie is also a fan of the Mad Hatter and Family Day, which takes place on Sunday, August 1. The Mad Hatters competition showcases the effort and creativity of children and adults, who make their own headpieces and hats and this year Suzie will judge the competition.
“It is really great to talk to entrants about what work is behind the creation or the inspiration for what they have on their head. Usually, it is topics to do with the news throughout the year or major events. It is great. I really enjoy it,” she says.
“The children are really brilliant and by talking to them you get a feel for how long they have been working on it and the development of the idea and maybe they got bits from different places or maybe mammy or daddy helped out.
“It doesn’t matter, it is all fun and that is what Mad Hatters is all about, having fun making what is on your head and having fun on the day,” she explains.
Suzie also believes that this year’s racing festival will be as good as ever and offers a great pick-me-up in difficult times.
“I cannot wait for this year’s festival. It is like this every year. There is a huge buzz. We are only a week away from ladies day and there is great excitement about the Galway Races and ladies day, even more so than last year, I think. Now that it has been announced that the recession is officially over, everyone is looking forward to a good day out,” Suzie concludes.

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