is all over the runways this year – designers like Gucci, Ralph
Lauren and Donna Karan are unleashing their inner Indiana Jones and
using the safari theme as a source of inspiration. If however, you
live and work in the bush, a pair of leopard print stilettos won’t
get you far – in fact, it might get you killed. Here’s the lowdown
on what works, what doesn’t and why.
A century ago, the great outdoors and professions
associated with it was almost exclusively male – the Karen Blixens
and Dianne Fosseys of this world were few and far between.
Thankfully things have changed. Game ranging, hunting, wildlife
rehabilitation, lodge management – women are everywhere and with
them, the safari clothing industry is evolving slowly but surely.
No self respecting woman wants to be seen
ill-fitting men’s cast-offs. Our bodies are different and what you
wear should reflect this.
If done right, the outdoor look is timeless, lends
itself to a certain amount of dressing up or down and above all, is
practical. What you choose to wear depends hugely on what your
planned activities are, but a few rules apply no matter what:
Choose clothes specifically designed for women –
it’ll fit better and be more comfortable.
Materials used should be durable and practical. Go
for cotton or easy-to-dry, hardy and lightweight Quantec.
Earth tones work best. Drawing attention to yourself
in the African bush is not necessarily a good thing - the more you
blend in, the better the likelihood of getting close to animals.
a lightweight. Arriving at a game farm with an eight-piece set of
matching luggage will not endear you to anyone. Choose clothes that
can double up for both day and evening wear.
Consider the elements. The scorching midday sun
makes way for chilly sunset drives and evenings. A waterproof,
fleece-lined jacket can be a lifesaver and long pants with
detachable legs or button tabs for rolling the legs up, work well.
Remember your wide-brimmed bush hat – a baseball cap
will not provide adequate protection against the onslaught of the
There’s no substitute for quality. Clothes worn in
the great outdoors need to be able to withstand a certain amount of
Unless you’re on a walking safari, there’s no need
for heavy boots. Light, comfortable shoes or sandals work best.
A short history of safari clothes
First sported by turn of the 20th century
Anglo-African adventurers, safari wear has always been engineered
for durability and practicality. Traditionally made from
lightweight, khaki-coloured cotton with pockets and epaulettes, its
mainstream popularity was given a boost in the 1950s by Ernest
Roger Moore’s James Bond donned a safari jacket in
The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker and Octopussy
as did J R Ewing in the 80s soap opera Dallas. It is however,
generally accepted that the original safari suit is hopelessly
outdated and best suited to period dramas and fancy dress parties.
Actresses like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy has
helped tremendously in elevating the look to total babedom and
Hollywood’s love affair with safari clothes endures.
Dressing it up
The safari look not only works in the bush, but is
the ideal office or leisure wear for women on the go. Team up your
outfit with matching accessories (wooden bangles and beads, belts,
animal-print scarves or dainty leather sandals), but make sure you
don’t overdo it.
The Supply Company was established in 1989 and manufactures a
full range of outdoor clothes and accessories. It proudly supplies
to many South African safari operators and lodges. To view its full
range, go to
www.supplyco.co.za or visit one
of the company’s outlets.