I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend about the increasing number of Kenyan women who have started playing golf and what they are wearing.
What are the appropriate styles that work for one’s body silhouette? Is there a gap in the market for Kenyan designers to fill by focusing on female golfers' fashion?
Lydia Obonyo, an avid golfer for the last 15 years, and the current chair lady of Kenya Ladies Gold Union (KLGU) says there are style guidelines created by the union founders.
The style guide was very conservative from the 1930s to the 1990s, but it has since changed.
Currently, the KLGU which was established in 1935 has about 2,000 female golfers, with the highest number based in Nairobi.
A majority are in mid-level, senior managerial positions, and business owners, taking up golf as a leisure sport or for networking.
Ms Obonyo says once KLGU shares the rules with the new members, it is up to the various ady Captains in the golf clubs across Kenya to ensure that the dress code rules are adhered to.
"At any of the competitions countrywide, there are various age groups of both female, male golfers and spectators from 16 to 50 years old thus one’s dressing must be respectful and not cause any offence," she says.
With the increase in the number of younger or more fashionable golfers, more and more of them are infusing their own style by wearing makeup, bolder colours, patterns, and Ankara prints.
To cater to the discerning new female golfer, designers have found opportunities in golf wear.
Carole Kinoti is among the few designers who have tapped into the limited golf fashion market, providing women with made-to-measure athleisure options and newer, colourful fashionable styles.
She launched the athleisure golf wear collection in 2021 during a charity golf tournament that she hosted at Muthaiga Golf Club.
“I started making golf wear because of the gap in the market, not many designers are doing it,” Ms Kinoti says, adding, “I deviated from traditional design to give women an option of afro-modern golf athleisure wear.”
The collection has multi-functional pieces that can be worn both on and off the golf course.
The key aspect of her golf wear is the layering of various pieces, such as a jacket on a golf shirt or dress to accommodate weather changes as the golfer plays from early morning to midday or late afternoon.
"The pieces are made of breathable cotton to absorb sweat and the collection includes T-shirt shift dresses that have separate shorts worn underneath, golf shirts, semi-fitted stretch pants, and half jackets with side pockets," she says, adding that in October, she plans to launch another collection.
Another brand, “Made to Fit” led by head designer Mary Wainaina is creating skorts (shorts sewn into a skirt).
Ms Wainaina has a home-based design studio.
“I started making tailor-made golf wear for women in 2016. Since then there has been an increase in women playing golf, so the orders and client base have increased,” she says.
She considers the customer's body size and uses stretch spandex or cotton fabric. Most full-figure women prefer longer-length skorts, she says, in different colours, prints and styles.
So, what style flatters your body yet is respectful?
Style tips for female golfers
For the hourglass figure, the shoulders and hips are proportional and there is a defined waist. Wear golf shirts that nip in at the waist and pants or skirts that flatter your curves without being too tight. Avoid baggy or shapeless clothing.
Pear shapes are characterised by large hips that are wider than the bust and shoulders.
Opt for skirts that are fitted at the waist and flare out at the bottom to balance out your proportions. Pants should be fitted at the waist and slightly flared at the ankle.
Apple-shaped women have fuller busts, mid-section, and waist areas. Wear tops that are semi-fitted around the midsection and fitted around the arms and shoulders.
Avoid tops that cling to the midsection, as this can accentuate the focus on your tummy and mid-section area. Opt for pants or skirts that have a high waist to elongate your legs.
Weight is fairly distributed around the body for athletic body shape. Shoulder and hip measurements are almost the same and the waist is not well-defined.
Highlight your toned arms and legs by wearing sleeveless tops, shorts, skirts, or skorts. Avoid baggy or shapeless clothing.
Petite refers to a statue, not weight or shape. Whatever your generic shape if you are 5 foot 3 or under you are considered petite. Choose clothing that elongates your legs, such as high-waisted pants, skirts, or skorts.
Avoid clothing that overwhelms your small frame, such as baggy tops or pants.