Fresh morning breezes and well-groomed turf set the ideal conditions for those keen to take up a new hobby or dress up and step out for the occasion. Guest writer Belinda Fourie looks at polo – what to expect, wear and how to get the look with elegant décor pieces inspired by the season.
Polo, also known as the ‘Sport of Kings’ for its regal associations, is one of the world’s oldest games and also one of its fastest and finest: man and horse work in partnership to get a ball through a goal. With its origin somewhere in the Orient it was brought to the west in the early 1860’s by the British after seeing it being played in India. Not too long afterwards South Africa followed suit with the first polo match in Cape Town taking place in October 1875 – 140 years ago.
This equestrian game has been popular ever since and in the last couple of years evolved into a high-status social event to grace the Johannesburg calendars. Currently, the Waterfall Equestrian Estate in Johannesburg is making the most of the inviting weather by hosting the recent Mr Concierge Prince of Wales Polo Cup and the successive BMW International Polo Series, coming up on 20 September.
DRESS THE PART
For men, anything smart casual goes, but a pair of short chinos and loafers will guarantee the right tone.
Summer dresses or maxi skirts with chunky accessories are a definite win for ladies, but steer clear of high heels, making walking on grass a nuisance. Fabric shoes could also be ruined in the dust. Opt instead for for comfortable, elegant sandals or low wedges.
Straw hats are however still appropriate when warding off the African sun. So if you plan to attend any upcoming polo events this summer, be sure to take a panama hat or wide rimmed sun hat along.
1. Textured Fedora R499, Woolworths
2. Straw Ribbon Panama Hat R199, Woolworths
3. Camel Floppy Hat R210, Truworths
4. C’mon Thread Designs Handmade Picnic Blanket R680, Hello Pretty
KNOW YOUR STUFF
A lesser-practiced polo tradition but always fun is ‘treading in’, or stomping in the divots. Here all the guests go down to the field at half time to literally stomp down the divots created during play (another good reason to avoid those high heels).
A single match lasts about 90 minutes, divided into seven-minute time periods called chukkas. The four players per team – get three-minute breaks between chukkas, a 15 minute half-time and typically use 2 ponies each in a game.
A polo match is fast and the playing field is large – greater than four rugby fields – and keeping your eye on the ball is difficult at far ends of the field, so if you have binoculars, bring them. In order to make the most of the game, familiarise yourself with some simple polo jargon.
Some picnic snacks, a trendy blanket and umbrella, and good company will make for a much more enjoyable day on the banks. Depending on the tickets you purchase, you will have the option of taking your own appetizers along or making use of the on-site vendors for scrumptious eats and refreshments.
GET THE LOOK
Scouting around for polo chic and casual elegance, you’ll find ways to implement some clean and comfortable decor ideas inspired by polo paraphernalia to give your home a colonial take on spring.
Ground the room with a statement rug or carpet and build from there. Ornamental coat hooks and hat stands are a throwback to a heritage era and a great place to hang your straw hat after a long afternoon in the sun. Wingback armchairs are the perfect spot to perch and look out in antique stores for a traditional butler’s tray to host drinks beside you as you relax and unwind.
1. Aliminium French Coat Hook R299 , @home
2. Good Occasional White Armchair R5 995, Weylandts
3. 510 x 610 wool Kilim Maymana rug R39 558, iRugs
4. Springbok Prism Binoculars with leather case R1 650, Bid or Buy
5. Wooden Tripod Standing Lamp R1 400, MRP Home
6. Classic Rectangular Butler’s Tray R260, MRP Home
7. Soft grey chunky knit throw R795, Weylandts
Guest writer Belinda Fourie is a qualified journalist and interior decorator with a background in art history, theatre, English and French. Belinda creates a rich mix of the lot and runs her own interior decorating and lifestyle writing company, Tassels & Tigers, where she’s constantly inspired by new projects and loves getting her hands on beautiful artifacts, books and fabrics.Visit Belinda Fourie on her website or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook.