Vintage: Channeling The Caftan

August 31, 2015 • Magazine, Vintage

Vintage Caftans

It was a blink-and-you-missed-it kind of summer, but that’s OK because that means fall is almost here! The arrival of fall means the revival of a new fashion season. This year’s fall trends are all over the board, from whimsical pastels and super feminine silhouettes, to playing with hard and soft using leather and lace. Also making an appearance is the resurgence of the 1960s and 1970s styles that some of us miss dearly (and some may not!) One of my favorite items from that era is making a comeback and on top of it being super fun and there’s a bonus: it’s super comfortable and easy to wear. This month, let’s talk caftans!

A caftan has historically been described as a long coat or overdress that typically reaches the ankles, has long sleeves and can be worn with or without a belt. It has been worn for thousands of years and has deep origins in Mesopotamia and the Middle East. Depending on the region in which it was worn, it can be constructed of wool, cashmere, silk or cotton fabrics. The caftan was notably worn by the sultans of the Ottoman Empire and the garments varied in colors and patterns and had different ribbons, buttons and other decorations depending on the person’s rank. The caftan continued to be an important piece of apparel in the Middle East and throughout Africa and was introduced to the western world in the 1890s. It gained popularity into the early 20th century when the silhouette was adapted by French designer Paul Poiret. It hit the USA in a big way in the 1960s-70s when the “hippy” style became popular, and was further popularized when screen siren Elizabeth Taylor (among other highly coveted celebrities and socialites) wore one for her second wedding to Richard Burton.

Caftans are literally a throw-on piece. You can put one on in any fabric, pattern or color and it will look stylish and feel comfortable. I think the ideal way to style one for fall is alone with tall boots and your favorite tote or saddle bag. Or you can wear a caftan over your super flare jeans for some dimension and to give it an all-out 70s vibe. Don’t forget your floppy hat to finish off the look!

1. Carolina Herrera Parasol-Print Caftan, $590

2. Dolce & Gabbana Vintage Silk Leopard Print Bell Sleeve Caftan, $500

3. Halston IV 1970s Blue Knit Caftan, $158

4.Tory Burch ISSY COLOR-BLOCK CAFTAN, $175

5. Vintage GIVENCHY Signature Caftan Dress, $325

– Carmen Turner

Image Layout: Tequila Perrin

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