Wow the big events on a budget

Julie Moore, best-dressed lady racegoer of 2011
Julie Moore, best-dressed lady racegoer of 2011
Have your say

Invites, invites...

The summer brings a flurry of them. Weddings, parties, a day at the races – it’s all go, go, go.

Special occasion dresses and fascinators from TK Maxx's new store at Meadowhall. Dress prices start at �19.99.

Special occasion dresses and fascinators from TK Maxx's new store at Meadowhall. Dress prices start at �19.99.

And that includes the cash from your bank account.

We all love to dress up for a do, but in these cash-strapped times, what we don’t love about getting all togged up is the expense.

Finding a posh-looking frock, then all the matching accessories, can cost hundreds.

But many a bargain-priced chain-store is RSVP-ing to demand for classy-looking outfits for special summer occasions that cost a lot less than they look.

Team a chic navy and white blazer with a spotty skirt and add toning hat and bag for a smart, crisp look  - on a shoestring. items all from TXK Maxx. Blazers from �24.99 and skirts from �14.99.

Team a chic navy and white blazer with a spotty skirt and add toning hat and bag for a smart, crisp look - on a shoestring. items all from TXK Maxx. Blazers from �24.99 and skirts from �14.99.

Even with all the trimmings – matching hat, shoes and handbag – you can do head to toe summer chic for under £80 if you know where to look.

TK Maxx, which recently opened a boutique store in Meadowhall, reckon they have a dress for any occasion for under £40.

“With the wedding and horse racing season fast approaching, find your very own gorgeous dress to make you stand out from the crowd,” say TK, whose discounts go right up to 60 per cent off the manufacturers’ retail price.

“We have just had a special delivery of really beautiful occasion day dresses, fascinators, handbags and heels. It’s just in time for guests searching for an outfit for a June or July wedding and other big dates on the social calendar like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June.

“And if you’re looking for a glamorous outfit for a trip to the races, it’s a safe bet that you’ve saved yourself a packet so you can have a flutter on your favourite horse.”

TK’s dresses start from £19.99, there are frivolous little fascinators from £12.99, elegant hats from £25 and clutch bags from £9.99. Sandals, peep toes and heeled courts start at £24.99.

Mail order catalogue Littlewoods has a great collection of on-trend occasionwear featuring details like one-shoulder, bodice wrapover bodices, rouching, corsage trims and lace-overlay fabrics from big names. Berkertex suits , retro prom-style dresses and slinky frocks from Teatro, Coast, Love Label, Elements by Amanda Wakeley, Jacques Vert, French Connection and Planet start from £34 and go up to £210. There are stacks of hats, fascinators and accessories to glam up your look, and there’s the option to pay weekly on those more expensive items.

Round at Matalan, you’ll find sleeveless lace shift dresses and sassy sateen cotton Fifties-style prom dresses are £25 each and a figure-enhancing pencil dress with a flirty,

Forties-esque peplum waist is just £16. Wide-brim straw hats are £8, with headbands trimmed with feathers and beading. The latest disc-style fascinators are around £8 and fascinator-style hair combs are a snip at £4.

If you’re smart with it, you’ll be able to wear your outfit to a variety of posh summer events over the coming months.

You might even land yourself a cash prize totalling way more than your outfit if you get spotted at one of the Yorkshire Ladies’ Days being staged at the county’s nine racecourses.

Each course runs a Best Dressed Lady competition, with the winner from each course going through to the Grand Finale at the Doncaster St Leger on September 13 for a shot at the title of the Best Dressed Lady Racegoer in Yorkshire 2012, with a prize of a Pyjama Party package for six in a private apartment at the Best Western Premier Mount Pleasant Hotel, Doncaster and £100 of Totepool betting vouchers.

If you fancy your outfit’s chances, prepare for starter’s orders... the first Ladies’ Day of the year takes place at Wetherby on Thursday, May 24. The best dressed lady will win £600 of James Brindley interior design vouchers plus £50 from Totepool. The winner of the most spectacular hat will win a £150 voucher.

Wetherby is followed by stylish events at Ripon and Redcar in June, then Pontefract, York, Catterick and Beverley in August.

So grab your hat and get on your fashion marks.

Choose your style themes

Colour clash

Don’t be shy... Team purple with sharp lime, or cyclamen pink with orange. Or choose your dress or suit in one bright colour, then add a contrasting clash via your shoes, bag and hat or fascinator.

Royal romance

It’s Jubilee Year – and red, white and blue rules the waves. The nautical look is your ticket to the ritziest occasions and places.


Pastel colours straight from the sweetshop will add a colour pop at many a wedding and racetrack. Try pink, lemon, pistachio, mint or a soft sky blue.

Pure and simple

Clotted cream, blush nude and silver grey are the new neutrals. Elegant, lighter shade of pale pieces often come adorned or embellished. White is no longer just the preserve of the bride – but if you wear it make a style statement by adding heels, handbag and hat in orange, bright pink or purple.

Summer bouquet

Blooms blossom in profusion over snappy dresses, jackets, even slim-leg pants.

Roses rampage and all manner of old English garden flowers ramble on vintage-style tea and prom dresses, but expect exotic blooms too.

Earn your stripes

Smart, striking, clean and sharp – stripes will make you stand out in that group photo.

Dots for spots

Polka dots come in bold colours or classy chocolate, caramel or beige with white spots.