The beacons of style show off this year’s fashion trends ahead of the Suffolk Show
It was the most blustery day of the year so far. When better to congregate by a huge field of oilseed rape for our Suffolk Show fashion shoot, writes Lynne Mortimer.
To be fair, though, this was the Suffolk Show fashion shoot and the women who attend this great county event are well used to dressing for all weathers.
The end of May can be uncertain. Personally, I have had heat rash, blisters, rising damp and wind burn; not all in the same year, mind you.
For a number of years we have asked some of the women who regularly attend the show to dress up in their show outfits for a fashion piece.
For the first time, however, we have descended on show president Bill Baker’s farm at Drinkstone to take the countryside occasion from the showground into the countryside.
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Farming is the beating heart of the show: livestock, crops, machinery and food production.
To mitigate the effects of the fierce wind shaking the darling buds of May (which are flying in all directions), we congregate in the kitchen of the Bakers’ converted barn home and do some interior shots before photographer Lucy persuades them to smile through the buffeting winds for a group shot.
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But this is what it is all about. There is plenty of cover at the Trinity Park showground but most people also enjoy the outdoor experience.
While the female stewards wear hats, as do the male stewards, smart in their bowlers, not every woman has a titfer.
This year, for the first time, we also explore other types of dress code at the show – the ones observed by those who show the animals.
You definitely can’t walk ? with a hefty sheep ? around a show ring in a pencil skirt, high heels and picture hat.
Today, I meet six women who have different roles at the show and chat to them about what they are wearing.
Kate Baker is the wife of the show director (and, of course, daughter-in-law of Janet Baker).
Kate will be escorted around the show on both days.
On day one (not the outfit she is modelling here) Kate will be wearing a blue and white Cavalli dress with a long blue jacket from Reiss and “I’m borrowing mum’s hat; we’re doing a hat swapsy.
“On day two (as pictured) I have a mocha-coloured dress from Catwalk Diva in Brighton with a cream Nicole Fahri coat and a feathery (I can confirm this) hat.
I’m wearing chunkier heels than the ones I’m wearing now.”
Show veteran waits for weather forecast
Janet Baker is the show president’s mum. She is sporting an elegant and adaptable Eastex ensemble comprising a sand-coloured jacket and a top and skirt with a sand and brown/black design.
The shoes are from Shoephoric and the hat, Janet’s own, is from Sally’s at Ixworth.
“When (her son) Bill and Kate married I hired a hat from Sally’s, and when I took it back I saw this one and bought it.”
Her decision about her second outfit will, she says “depend on what the weather does. It may be black and white.”
A seasoned show-goer and competitor in the flower arranging (she and her friend Anne have won the silver salver Flower Club award) Janet says she hasn’t been out shopping for new clothes. “They’re all things I already have.”
She might be considered a show veteran. “My father brought his cattle from Scotland to Suffolk in 1950 and I have been coming to the show ever since.”
Abi Southworth is wearing the outfit the showground women staff will be sporting and this year it’s Joules’ Melcome ditsy floral dress (£59.95) in French navy.
The cotton dress is easy to wear and comfortable, with two front pockets and turn-back cuffs.
The dress has kindly been discounted by Joules.
Abi is wearing the dress with a plain navy cardigan.
Accountant Jenny Binder, whose gorgeous tan comes from a holiday in Egypt in February, looks great in a Boden navy dress with white detail.
“I tend to wear dark colours because I’m light horses (steward),” she says.
She’s been a horse steward for three years, having previously groomed for a couple of years. Jenny is among those who have been going to the show since they were born ? she is a member of a well-known local family with a waste management business.
The shoes are Nine West: “I wear wedges. Otherwise, high heels sink in the grass. If it’s nice weather I’ll wear this outfit but if it’s colder I wear a tweed coat from High Flyers.”
Jenny and I inspect the coat for a label and discover it’s by Chrysalis, a stylish maker of town and country outerwear.
The asymmetric, grey hat is from Suffolk Hat Company.
“I try to have a new outfit every year... a new one for each day,” says horsewoman Jenny, who used to do pony club and eventing.
Dressed for action
Tory Lugsden doesn’t go with the dress and jacket look ? and for good reason.
“I’m county organiser for Suffolk Young Farmers and we show sheep.
“My husband and two children have a flock of rare breed Dorset Down sheep.
“I’m wearing a Young Farmers’ gilet, a shirt from Next, red jeans from M&S, Dubarry boots, a waterproof hat and a white coat... do you want me to wear my white coat in the picture? It’s specially ironed.”
This is what Tory wears to show sheep but, though it’s tempting, we decide one white coat is very much like another.
She is very proud that the Suffolk Young Farmers’ mascot, Supermoo, won the mascot race last year and is hoping for more Suffolk mascot supremacy this year (the race is provisionally scheduled for day one at 5.30pm in the President’s Ring).
No hat here
The new chief executive of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, which runs the show, is Nicola Bateman, the first woman in the role.
She is wearing a floral print Hobbs jacket in red, navy and white over a red sleeveless dress. Both of these were purchased from Hobbs in Bury St Edmunds. The nude shoes are from Marks and Spencer. And “I don’t wear a hat,” Nicola says.
Nicola, who hails from Tostock, is wearing Hobbs again on the second day. This time a black and white checked jacket worn with a dress that has a long V-neck on the white top and a black skirt.
The Suffolk Show, at Trinity Park Showground, is on Wednesday, May 27 and Thursday, May 28. Get the latest info at www.suffolkshow.co.uk Tickets can be bought online or from the hotline 01473 295900