The belief that style and comfort are mutually exclusive concepts in Australia is never more sorely tested than at our many public sporting fixtures. Summer or winter, both bring their own particular brand of sartorial blunders.Take an outdoor event, a few thousand people from every walk of life imaginable, beverages that now sadly need to be consumed from a plastic cup as soft and hard to manage as the meat pie you a forced to eat for dinner if you did not have time to pack a picnic, and people’s sense of appropriate but attractive dress goes out the window.
But it does not have to be this way.
Team paraphernalia aside (and in the spirit of fair play and an ambience of camaraderie, team scarves, caps and other manner of merchandising are a necessary evil if that is your bag), the key when dressing for an occasion such as this is simplicity.
One needs to be comfortable above all (and potentially dry if unlucky with the weather or your seating). And in the winter-time warmth is paramount. Nothing looks sillier than shivering in a skimpy top and high heels when navigating the weirdly extra wide steps in the grandstand. But it is a night at the football not dinner and dancing at your local pub, and this is why direct translation of your usual Saturday night attire will never work.
Once you start to consider all these factors it is no wonder people give up immediately and run screaming for their fleecy hoodie.
The way around getting too bulked up is with warm but lightweight fabrics – fine wool gauge roll necks or v’s with slimline jackets, smart trenches or overcoats. A long sleeve tee and a waist covering singlet top as your base means if it warms up or you are inside for part of the evening you have layers to peel off. Wear pants you are comfortable sitting down in for long periods of time – jeans in any shade are a pretty safe bet here, especially if there are any unfortunate accidents with food or beverages. Boots mean you can wear woollen socks and keep your toes toasty, especially if you are sitting with your feet on the cold concrete floor of the stands all match.
I find the perfect accessory to finish all this off is a brightly coloured scarf to express your individuality. At a Swans match I usually express my undying support subtley but chicly with my classic Burberry red check scarf – a wool and cashmere blend to make it super soft and non-scratchy on the neck.
At the game last Saturday night the two best dressed fans there were, funnily enough, two women in their 50s, one in a group and the other next to us with her husband. One wore a simple black roll neck jumper with denim jeans, a signature chunky ring on one finger, and boots. Her outfit was highlighted by her perfectly coiffed pale amber hair and her slash of browny-red lippy. Effortlessly chic. And, by the way, guiltlessly passing around a block of dark chocolate amongst her friends with a cheeky smile.
The other wore black slimlegged jeans, black ballet flats, and a cream quilted jacket and cream scarf. Modern, fashionable, and so appropriate. Not a sweatshirt or hoodie in sight.
We can learn a lot from experience in fashion – these were strong confident women who were obviously comfortable in their own skin, and knew how to do glamour and comfort at the same time.
I silently raised my plastic glass of vin rouge to them in due homage to kindred style spirits, and made a mental note to bring my own dinner, complete with cherry chocolate block, to the next game.