Kaftans are dresses that are worn as coats or overdresses by both men and women. They have been around for thousands of years, with origins that can be traced to the Ottoman Empire. Kaftans, also called ‘Caftans’, are now gaining in popularity as the summer outfit of choice for women for the sheer comfort that they have to offer.
Kaftan dresses can vary in length from being ankle length to falling just short of the knees. They usually have a plunging neckline, with a wrap-like detailing in the front. Kaftan sleeves are designed to be boxy, long and dramatic. They need some getting used to before you are comfortable in flaunting them. The most prevalent sleeve style in kaftans is loose bat-wing sleeves.
Silk, chiffon and georgette are preferred fabrics while making a kaftan for they lend it a billowing silhouette. However you can also find beautiful cotton kaftans. Given that they are made of sheer fabrics and tend to have deep necks, kaftans most definitely need an inner lining. Shorter kaftans can be worn with camisoles while longer ones can be worn over a slip dress.
The front is usually adorned with delicate embroidery or sequin work around the neck. To accentuate the wearer’s waist, you would normally find tie ups around the waist, either at the front, sides or back. They can just be pulled together and knotted to make the outfit gather around the waist and give it a shape.
Being single piece outfits, kaftans need the support of accessories to break the monotony of the outfit. Many designers take care of this aspect by providing you with waist tie ups in a contrasting colour to give the dress a much needed colour block.
Many women treat a kaftan as a top and pair it with leggings or denims. We do beg to differ. Kaftans are dresses, period. Shorts kaftans arguably need bottom wear and that should be in the form of fitted pants to complement its loose fit. Baggy pants or jeans just don’t make the cut. Longer kaftans can be worn as is and styled the way you would style a maxi dress. A comprehensive collection of kaftans would comprise of solids, floral prints, geometric prints in short, long and asymmetric styles.
Kaftans are best suited for the summers when the weather tends to be hot and you need outfits that keep you cool and comfortable throughout the day. Given that they are loose and airy, kaftans make for stylish day wear. Styles that reach upto the knee let you flaunt some skin while keeping your look chic. All you need to do is to pull a kaftan over yourself, pair it with flat sandals and a sling bag and you are all dressed for a day out. And not just the day, kaftans can double up as a fabulous choice for an summer evening do as well! Choose a kaftan in bright prints or solid shade with embellishments around the neck. Simply team it with some shiny baubles and a nice jewelled clutch – and all eyes will be on you for your impeccable sartorial style!
And while we are at it, how can we forget the main utility of a kaftan - the beach! Whether it is just for taking a stroll or as a cover-up over your swimwear, kaftans are can become your go-to outfit for the beach. Easy to wear and peel off and comfortable to walk around in, they find favour over maxi dresses for being more stylish and trendy! When dressing for the beach in a kaftan, put on a layered beaded necklace, chunky bangles and a wide-brimmed straw hat – simply visualise the look and you’ll know why kaftans, the sun and the sand are a match made in heaven.
What with their current popularity and favour that they are enjoying, kaftans are definitely not going out of style soon. What’s more, they can even be your trusted companions in case you gain or drop a couple of sizes! So go ahead and gift yourself some designer kaftans!