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How to design your own jockey silks

Updated February 21, 2017

If you've ever examined jockey silks up close, you know they tell a story, but you probably don’t have a complete picture of this outfit’s history. King Henry VIII mandated a uniform code for horse racing and began the tradition of embellishing tunics with colours and symbols representing the colours of landed gentry, according to Horse and Hound Gallery. Today’s silks are close in design to those approved by British monarchs as recently as the 18th century. Your decision to design your own jockey silks will be a fun undertaking as long as you play by the rules.

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Undertake a rigorous course of research to study the anatomy of jockey silks -- not just from a design perspective but also from an engineering point of view. Visit racetracks or watch races on TV to understand how fabric and seams work together to provide sleek riding gear that’s both practical and fashionable.

Open a 21.5 by 25 cm (8 1/2 inch by 11 inch) portrait page in any computer software that will allow you to draw, paint and import images. Use a pen or pencil tool to outline the traditional tunic shape with long sleeves and a collar that distinguishes this sports uniform from all others. Use a free jockey silks template found on the Internet so that you have starting point for the design process.

Research symbols you’ll use for your “stable logo.” Opt for uncomplicated line art that represents your heritage, faith, hometown or another recognisable, easy-to-render shape to start the logo design process. For example, render a French fleur-de-lis to signify your French heritage, use a triangle to suggest your business logo or pick any uncomplicated image. Superimpose your initials over the shape or experiment until you come up with a perfect logo design.

Return to your monitor's pattern. Drop a variety of colours into the template of the jockey silk’s tunic using the paint bucket and pre-mixed colours available from the software’s colour picker. Alternately, mix up your own hues and shades to create a design that's as individual as you are. Import and position the image of your “stable logo” on to the silks. Modify your jockey silks until you're satisfied with the design.

Add a contrasting colour to your tunic if you wish. For example, the Duke of Cumberland’s first silks were solid shades of purple, but he added a black velvet jockey’s cap to come up with what experts call “the oldest British racing colours in existence.”

Complete final detailing on your jockey silks design so that whoever makes it won’t have a problem replicating the seams, colours, logo and trim on your riding outfit. Think about registering your tunic, colours and logo with The Jockey Club so that you get bragging rights when you compare notes with others.

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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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