Sally-Ann Mullin’s fashion tips for the polo

Sally-Ann Mullin

The NZ Polo Open is one of the most exclusive and highly anticipated events in the social calendar.

Where else can you can rub shoulders with the best dressed crowd in Auckland, while sipping champagne and watching the world’s top polo players in action? FQ’s editor Sally-Ann Mullin shares her top tips on how to dress to impress and catch the eye of the Fashion on the Field judges at this year’s Land Rover NZ Polo Open.

What are your go-to essentials for the polo?
My go-to essentials would be a summer dress made from a natural fibre like linen, silk-cotton or silk in a pastel colour, white or a pattern. I wouldn’t really do a bright colour. My other go-to would be a wedge or a block heel – nothing overly high – and a beautiful daytime clutch in either wicker, floral or a bright colour.

How does the dress code at the polo differ from the races?
It is completely different – the only similarity is that there are horses involved! At the races more is more; you want to stand out and you should always have three touch points that links the outfit together like an accessory, shoe and clutch. But at the polo, it is a lot more elegantly thrown together. You wouldn’t want to be too matchy-matchy, so you wouldn’t have your clutch matching your shoes and your sunglasses. It is more effortlessly worked together, looking slightly undone.

But obviously these are only capsule rules, guidelines… if you wear something with conviction, it doesn’t matter. I think that’s what’s so cool about fashion and beauty – you can actually do whatever the hell you want and if you wear it well, good for you!

What is your advice for wearing heels to the polo?
My advice for wearing heels to the polo is to avoid any kind of heel that could potentially sink into the grass – don’t go there! If you are someone who is not used to wearing heels all the time, don’t wear a five-inch heel. Go for a two or three-inch heel or a wedge. However, if you are someone who wears heels or wedges all the time, I think that’s fine too.

Who is your polo style inspiration?
My polo style inspiration would be someone who is elegant but understated like Olivia Palermo or Alexa Chung, I love that look where the hair is great but it is not super ‘done’.

What are your polo fashion no-go’s?
I would stay away from things like metallic and anything fluorescent or sequined. You can wear a little bit of beading, but don’t go overboard! But then again, the thing with fashion and rules is that you can always break them – if you really own what you’re wearing and wear it with confidence, then that’s fine.

The other no-go is really overdone makeup – so steer clear of false eyelashes. You could do a pop of bold lip but you would have to have a clean, dewy face. Basically anything that is too racewear looking is not a good look at the polo.

What would your advice be for hats?
With your hat it is more about sun safety, so a boater or a beautiful Panama would be great – something that looks European and masculine. I wouldn’t wear a felt fedora, that wouldn’t be right – just keep it really simple. You can also do something a bit creative and pretty with your hair – think braids and loose waves. Dry & Tea are offering four polo-inspired dry styles right now, which include a low, sleek ponytail and an intricate braided bun.

Sally-Ann Mullin with stylist Kylie Cooke at last year's NZ Polo Open.

Sally-Ann Mullin with stylist Kylie Cooke at last year’s NZ Polo Open.


What would your advice be to those who wanting to catch the eye of the Fashion on the Field judges?
I would say a really simple, elegant summer dress – I would avoid black – with a really great pair of wicker shoes or wedges. Not too matchy-matchy; just overall style and flair in a chic, country garden kind of way.

Why is the polo one of your favourite events of the year?
I love the polo because there is something so elegant about it and you can’t help but think of the film Pretty Woman: stomping the divots is such a delight and having a few flutes of champagne in a tent on a beautiful summer’s day… there’s nothing better. The game itself is mind-blowing and the skill level is insane, how people can even play that game I have no idea! It’s always such a lovely day out and people make a great effort with their fashion – not just the women, but the men as well in their white chinos, blazers and Ray-Bans.

What is your favourite look you have worn to the polo previously?
One year I was heavily pregnant – I had my baby the week after the polo – and I wore a cream, silk long-sleeve dress by Miss Crabb. It covered me from the sun and made me feel so elegant but it also worked well with my giant bump. I paired it with a little red shoe and a boater hat and it is one of my favourite looks I’ve worn.

Why do you think the polo is known as one of the best social events of the year?
I think it’s got an element of exclusivity, there is such a limited number allowed in the tents that you want to be in and you can’t help but think of the royals as well.

For some people this is their first time at the polo… What advice would you give them and what can they expect?
My advice would be to make sure you are prepared to be in the full sun all day so wear a great hat, lightweight breathable clothing and a good heel. Ultimately, keep it simple and pared back for a look that’s elegant and understated.