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Need tips to dress for the polo? We asked the experts to share how to get it right

Phupho Gumede, TeeKay Mahapa, Lerato Kgamanyane and Leon Payne, show just how to get it right at the Polo (or any equestrian event, for that matter.) PICTURE: Cedric Nzaka

Phupho Gumede, TeeKay Mahapa, Lerato Kgamanyane and Leon Payne, show just how to get it right at the Polo (or any equestrian event, for that matter.) PICTURE: Cedric Nzaka

Published May 7, 2022

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IT’S the season of chukkas and fine ponies in South Africa and the globe. There have already been a number of polo events in the country and around the globe in recent weeks. There are more equestrian sporting events also happening in the next couple of weeks and months.

As one of the world’s most luxurious sports, it’s also not only about horse-racing meets or the polo, but also about the fashion.

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When attending these events, you have to make sure you look and smell like luxury.

Polo outfits are not the kinds you would expect to walk into the office with – they are luxurious, colourful and with a bit of fantasy.

Go with vibrant ones and make sure you stay close to the theme. Colours like emerald green, dusty pink, and purple ombré usually work. And for the gents, stay away from black and white suits. Get out of your comfort zone and explore other colours like brown, green, and mauve.

For the ladies

Dresses

There’s no need to wear a long sparkling gown, it’s the polo, not a matric dance. Go for something sassier, like a short dress with a dramatic bow or puffy sleeves. Take inspiration from Candice Modiselle’s dress that she wore at the Johannesburg Polo, recently. Her designer Mdlalose Nhlanhla understood the assignment. The satin asymmetrical mini dress, with puffy sleeves and a train, was perfect. It wasn’t too much but was still appealing for the occasion.

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Suiting

Suits are also perfect for the ladies, they have the power to give you that boss lady look. Depending on the theme, Ankara suits work better on the polo. Think of Thando Thabethe’s 2019 polo look, when she wore an African print suit by House of Fabrosanz. She made statement without trying too much.

Swing skirt

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If you want drama, wear a princess swing maxi skirt and a shirt with puffy sleeves. If your shirt is plain, throw in a chunky neckpiece to add more flair to your look. Take tips from Lerato Kgamanyane, who knows how to pull a nice polo look with just a few items.

Lerato Kgamanyane. Picture: Supplied

Shoes

Fashion stylists like the award-winning Phupho Gumede will tell you that the most important thing is to look good comfortably.

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“Functionality is key when you're attending an event such as the polo. It's best to stay away from ball gowns and high heels for an event of this nature,” he says.

And I agree because nothing is more annoying than being at a social event and not being able to mingle, because your outfit/shoes are giving you problems. Your confidence drops. I know this because I once attended a polo event in December 2019 and wore pointed stilettos, worst mistake of my life. Fortunately, there was a mini-market, and I ended up buying sandals that could match my dress and only then was I able to enjoy myself like everyone else. Since then, I vowed to never wear stilettos to the polo. The best heels are block heels because they’re comfortable and stylish.

Accessories

Avoid big purses and fascinators. You’re not attending a funeral, so leave that fascinator home. They were cool back then, but now they don’t work. We’ve just survived the pandemic and couldn't do our hair for months. Get a nice hairstyle and show it off. Also, be careful of over-accessorising. The attention should be more on your dress/suit than a neck-piece, so go for something minimal.

For the gentlemen

Phupho Gumede. Picture: Cedric Nzaka

Suits

Gents, please do away with tuxedos. We’ve seen enough and we are tired. Why not go for high-waisted tailored pants and a ruffled shirt? Give us something. If you wish to wear a full suit, may it be well-tailored, please? We have Tshepo Tsala, Tailor Me, and Suitability for such occasions. We don’t want to see Gwede Mantashe’s oversized suits. Like the ladies, you can also go for African print suits. Check out Trevor Stuurman, and Imprint designer, Mzukisi Mbane; they will show you how it’s done.

Shoes

Shoes must match your accessories, especially if you’ll be wearing a belt. Do not wear sneakers unless you can pull them off. Rather stick to your matching formal shoes to avoid any disappointments.

When it comes to men’s shoes, brogues are a must-have style. Whether you’re dressing for a smart casual event or semi-formal function, brogue shoes can perfectly complete your look. UNSPLASH

Accessories

The belt will depend on the pants you’re wearing, but a watch is a must. Show them that you’re always on time (even if you’re late) by wearing a nice watch to add that zing to your outfit. Don’t wear a hat, get a fresh cut and if you have a beard, make sure it’s well-trimmed and moisturised.

Now that you know what to wear, make sure that you complete your outfits with beautiful make-up, and top it with a smile and an inviting fragrance. Be on your best behaviour and enjoy the taste of luxury.

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