WhatEver Will I Wear!
You most likely have secured an invitation to the polo. Well I suppose that is what has happened to you recently. Mostly people that have not yet enjoyed a day at the polo seek out this topic. Therefore you must have been invited. If you already knew what to wear you would also know you don't need an invitation to go to the polo. Never-the-less everyone goes through wondering what on earth they have suitable for a day outdoors with the ponies regardless. . .
So soon after the thrill of accepting an invitation to join in our great sport, there is usually a wave of low level anxiety as your brain scrambles for a visualisation of what you are going to wear. Good that you are giving this some thought. Afterall we all dread looking out of place or worse not looking nice. I am asked alot by enthusiastic new guests what to wear. So here are the simple Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind when you are putting together your 'Day Out at the Polo' ensemble.
Horses, well polo ponies in this case are heavy, powerful and to the inexperienced dangerously unpredictable. So it is wise not to increase your chances of coming a croppa with one of them. The sensible Nelly will wear a heavy leather, covered boot. This choice offers the best modicum of protection available to a human when one of these 1 and a half ton beasts stands on your peg. I have witnessed excurciating accidents where the pony isn't even aware they are breaking toes and ankles as they relax munching on hay wondering what all the fuss is about. A fashionable boot will lessen your chances of this happenning to you if you plan on patting a handsome player's pony or two. Yet for many in the summer, a long or even short boot is just not a chic or comfortable option. So the next best is a covered toe at least.
Of course not putting nethermost pinkies in stomping distance in the first place is the safest choice. But for those single and frisky the idea of being at a distance, will just not do. For these guests I recommend always being mindful when you are shimmying up hairy legs that a hoof can come down on you and will hurt less if you are wearing traditional Utrech Nederland's wooden clogs rather than your Manolo Blahniks.
Not to be confused with being in drag or even being dragged off both of which are much more fun. Being dragged is a life threating condition no-one wants to bring upon themselves and is a small but real risk at the polo or anywhere there are horses.
Don't wear scarves or Strappy handbags or dangley things that are strong and break resistant. If you must wear matching bracelets and necklace sets to go with your 7inch earrings then do just make sure they are cheap knock offs that will break and scatter if tugged by a moped thief or in this case a spooked or passing polo pony's bridle or bit. Highly unlikely you will be that unlucky, but all too often casual patting can hook a petters accessories into the strong leather gear or tack on a pony which spells disaster if that pony then takes fright or bolts.
So, so far we have you in armyboots with no jewellery or flowing clothes with only what will fit in your pockets or a clutch purse or suitcase.. Mmmm. But wait there is more. . .
Having been involved with horses for over 80 years, I am more scared of them than you are. Not because I always have been as at first I was just like you happy to venture up and pat them and learn more. Yet today I am terrified, having witnessed so so many accidents with the experienced and inexperienced alike. I can barely watch spectators when they head over to pat a pony. Worse when the players bring their ponies over to the sidelines and stands with picnickers and spectators walking past their hindquarters. YIKES! How many of you have heard that horses kick? It seems I have lost touch as I thought everyone knew this. But scenes at nearly every polo match since polo's rennaisance in popularity have me reeling. So let me get in touch. . . Friends!!!! . . . ffffriends!!!!! . . . HORSES KICK!!!!
It doesn't matter how pretty or handsome you look or how successful and how many potential business contacts you are making if you're DEAD. A polo pony or any animal that size has the potential to kill you and you should always keep this in mind at all times if you are going to go to the polo. Kicking and Biting are polo ponies only defence sets so they have to be good at it and, they are. Just one kick and, to a lesser degree but not much lesser, biting can KILL you. So dear polo guests and players please be mindful of the pony's two ends. Don't walk around or stand at the back of a pony and always do ask the rider if the pony bites before you offer up your hand or face to be munched on.
There is nothing that compares with the good feeling you can enjoy from being at a polo match looking good and completely comfortable amongst friends. Its why most of you are going in the first place right? So ladies don't wear stillettoes or very high heels unless they are chunky. Bad news I know for the shorter variety of us or people who have had a bad experience with chunky heels. But if you really want to get into this polo thing, it is a definate silent decider others note about you, whether you like it or not.
Its about meeting people and having fun right? Well chunky heels help as does a linen jacket for the gentlemen. So too do hats but a particular type. Most social morays at the polo have sprung from orignal practicalities. Most of these commonsense reasons have been lost in time however some still may be explained at a guess.
Simply try wearing stillettos. You soon feel uncomfortable. Not because there is a group of pointy featured snobs standing in a corner pointing and laughing at you. No no, you will not find that at the polo, we already have funnelled them away at the gate before they come. More that stillettoes sink into the grass. After all you are outdoors remember. Secondly the grass wrecks stilletoe's heels, scuffing them with every step. Flat, wedge, boot or chunky are really going to be the mantra if being comfortable is your only option. Of course the alternative position is never to leave the floored marqueed area or clubhouse confines. This does explain why many ladies do stay in these precincts exclusively.
Yet we are talking about getting into this sport right, not what you can wear to get by. I mentioned before it's a slient decider others note. At a glance they can tell if you are getting into the sport and really interested or just a day tripper. If you're truly serious my only real tip is look out for the authentic riding boot it usually will lead you in the right direction or at least to your win of the day.
Same with hats. Felt, cane, broad-brim or cowboy even are very safe. Of course the cap, but the insignia must be polo related if you want to get it right. Random baseball style caps with no connection to polo say just that.
Feathers are fine if you dont care, but if you do really really want to look the part never wear anything you would wear to a racetrack. A fascinator is a give-a-way you are a blow-in just here for the day and well, what's wrong with that. It may be a good idea to separate yourself. Those judging you for wearing the no just so correct attire are not worth meeting. Infact, point them out to me and I will have them thrown out! Yet if it matters to you then don't wear fascinators or bouquets of feathers. A single feather or one or two small incidentally collected from a field and rammed into a hatband of a Stetson or Akubra are acceptable. Some may say even innersanctum dresscode.
Occassionally feathers flutter too much and have the potential to spook ponies. At a lesser extent they are seen to be more a trapping for the common or popular 'racey' set but these anecdotes hold no truck. There are horses at the races. It is simply a choice of looking like you are from the country and in the know or not. What does it matter? On the whole for the newly introduced to polo this level of de rigour is supurflous and more accurately, ridiculous.
It is all upto you. Depending on how far you want to take things. Go further and you will find more.
No Black is the New No Black
Don't wear black. If you get lost in the forest we have a better chance of finding you. People in the country in most parts generally don't wear black as it tends to be too hot. together with the fact polo players wear white jeans, overall white is prefered well before black. Having said this one of the best polo teams in the world Ellerstina consistantly wear black jerseys. Also the Black Bears are one of the greatest Polo Patrons of the sport. So you choose your line.
Don't ever wear yellow and black. These two colors together are nature's warning to equines and one in a million it will be the polo pony nearest you that will freek fit at your latest Vivian Westwood jumpsuit not the man of your polo player dreams. Think bumble bees, tigers, leopards taipans, yellow belly black snakes and you start to get it. Of course most polo ponies and todays horses except for a few wild Brumbies and Mustangs are far far removed from the wilds where these instincts rule behaviour. But ask any showjumper and they will tell you, still the hardest show jump fence to navigate is the yellow and black. That is why they always have a yellow and black jump in the finals at the Olympics because it shows how well your mount trusts you if you can navigate over the obstacle together successfully.
Having explained this much, the truth really is that anything goes. Infact muddy dirty looking people in jeans and sweat are usually the most revered as they are often the wonderful Grooms and Players and the close knit attached to the string of ponies, slogging it out for your entertainment and only to please. They may even be the Patron or wealthy landowner host of the venue you are enjoying. You just never know. One of the secrets of polo we all enjoy the most. You just never know who you may be meeting at a day at the polo.