"Polo is about whatever you feel comfortable with. It's very inviting. It's great to bring kids and your family," says professional polo player Nacho Figueras.
Figueras, who models for Ralph Lauren's Polo-brand fragrances and Black Label fashion collection, says he's stopped at a match in his swim trunks and flip-flops. The most important thing to bring with you is interest and enthusiasm, he says, and usually that's enough.
"There's no special etiquette required unless you're told differently. Polo is for everyone. ... Polo can be a bridge between different classes. It's everyone at the same place at the same time," Figueras says.
Still, he allows, spectators should weigh the importance of a particular event. The British royal's appearance at the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic, during which Figueras' Black Watch Team will play against Harry's Sentebale team, certainly raises the bar.
Also, he says, a weekday afternoon match in Bridgehampton, N.Y., for example, has a different vibe than a U.S. Open Final on a Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla. For that, Figueras would wear a blazer with his jeans.
On the field, players do indeed wear polo shirts, which are more refined than a T-shirt yet have a short, turned-over collar that stays out of the way. Designer Lauren began using the player-and-pony logo in 1971 and it has since become synonymous with his brand.
A three-button polo shirt, crisp white jeans and driving moccasins would be a chic outfit for a female spectator, says Avril Graham, executive fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar. She also suggests a tasteful sundress paired with ballet flats.
Anything too trendy or revealing looks out of place, says polo fan Graham, and the biggest "don't" of all is high heels since everyone heads out to the field at halftime for the divot stomp to flatten all the upturned patches of dirt. "There's nothing worse than finding you're sinking into the grass."
Frank Cappuccio, a Long Island, N.Y.-based player, aficionado and developer of the SportPolo Web site, takes the shoe rule even farther: "Sandals are a bad idea."
You can spot the polo-seasoned VIPs who are nicely dressed and well groomed but maintain a sporty sensibility from the first-timers who are often overdone, says Cappuccio, who also regularly visits the Florida polo circuit.
And true fans there to watch the ponies instead of other people might be in cowboy boots.
"Dress as you would as if you were going to someone's backyard for an evening barbecue," Cappuccio says.
Bazaar's Graham suggests looking to Harry's mother Princess Diana, who was often photographed in unfussy daytime dresses, or Prince William's girlfriend, skinny jeans-wearing Kate Middleton, as style role models.
Polo sidelines should be "a practiced look of effortless, elegant dressing, low-key sophistication and really good taste," Graham says.
By Samantha Critchell