What to - & NOT to - wear to the Sun Met

24 January 2018 - 12:21 By Paula Andropoulos
The collection Rich Factory showed at Mozambique Fashion Week in 2017 featured a striking mix of African prints.
The collection Rich Factory showed at Mozambique Fashion Week in 2017 featured a striking mix of African prints.
Image: Simon Deiner/SDR Photo

Everyone who’s anyone knows that the Sun Met is about much more than just horse-racing. It’s one of the most significant fashion dates on the South African social calendar, and attendees’ interpretations of each year’s theme are generally hit or miss.

If you’re planning on participating in the revelry on January 27, then make sure that you don’t find yourself featuring on any worst-dressed lists by donning an outfit that's a trendy, subtle interpretation of this year's theme: "Style Ahead of the Field".

To aid you in this endeavour, we’ve compiled some fashion guidelines – do us proud.


If you're going to look the part, it's important that you understand this year’s theme. “Style Ahead of the Field” is the organisers' rather cryptic way of asking race-goers to show up in Afro-chic outfits. Think African-inspired colours, prints and textures.

Happily, African-inspired couture has been trending recently, so there are loads of references for you to draw from. (Afropunk’s Instagram is a great place to hunt for inspiration.)

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That said, some of the worst outfits in past years have been overly-literal takes on the theme.

Some of our favourite celebrities have committed the cardinal sin of looking like they’re off to a Halloween party. 

Case in point: media personality Leigh-Anne Williams (pictured), who looked a little too costumey for our tastes at last year’s 'Decades of Glamour" Sun Met.


It’s worth mentioning that, as cool as this year’s theme is, it might also be conducive to cultural appropriation, which we would urge you to avoid.

Steering clear of literal interpretations of the theme will probably prevent you from committing a cultural faux pas; but, if you’re still worried, here are some general guidelines:

  • Do your research: make sure that the print or fabric you’re thinking of wearing doesn’t have culture-specific connotations that you’re not aware of.
  • If you’re not Zulu, for instance, don’t deck yourself out in a traditional Zulu outfit. Rather interpret these colours and patterns, focusing on one detail or an overall effect.

At the end of the day, it’s obviously your choice how much you choose to borrow from another culture – just keep in mind how you might feel if the shoe was on the other foot.


You don’t want to be an eyesore. If you’ve gone for a busy print, balance it out with simplicity of form.

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There’s something really awkward about donning what looks like a choice for the red carpet in the sun-drenched, grassy context of the Sun Met. It’s also preferable not to look like you’re off to your Matric Dance.

Wear something cool and comfortable instead, and save that floor-length showstopper for your next soiree.


It would be criminal not to look at this theme as an amazing opportunity to support the local design industry – who better to capture Afro-chic style?

Consider looking to Loin Cloth & Ashes, Mzukisi Mbane, Black Coffee or Mmuso Maxwell – among countless others –for the perfect ready-to-wear option.

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