Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is a Kaftan?

Kaftan, also spelled as caftan, is by definition a woman's long dress style with wide sleeves that imitates the caftan cloaks worn by men in the East. It is a robe-like garment with patterns and colors that are often detailed and vivid.  Based on most sources, kaftans are believed to have originated in the Middle Eastern countries.  Originally it was worn only by men but has evolved over time to be worn by both men and women.

Kaftans all Over the Globe
In Western Africa and South East Asian countries, kaftans’ are typically designed for women. Moroccan kaftans are usually fancy and feminine made of lace, satin, and floral prints in shades of vivid pink, orange, and red.  South East Asian kaftans are often made of batik or viscose created to suit the tropical weather.  Floral and abstract designs in bright colors are this regions favorite.  In countries like Senegal and Russia, kaftans are the national and traditional garments for men.  Senegalian kaftans are normally ankle length and made of cotton.  Russian kaftans come in intricate embellishments and trimmed with scallops with lace details.  

Innovations of Kaftans 
Kaftans became a fashion phenomenon in western countries in the 60's and 70's.  With the ever changing fashion trends, length of kaftans became available in various lengths.  In tropical countries, kaftans are used as fabulous swim wear cover-ups.  Shorter and belted versions of caftans paired with flowing pants, skinny pants, tights or black leggings also became a fashion favorite.  Elaborately decorated and accentuated caftans also serves as stylish and elegant evening dresses.  Casual and simple kaftans are household favorites used widely as lounge and patio wears. 

Informal kaftans are usually made of mud cloth, tie die and batik materials.  Formal kaftans are most often made of silk, lace, cotton and linens that are usually embellished and embroidered. Nowadays, kaftans can be worn almost anywhere and styled to be trendier while continuing to be comfortable.  So whether you want to go to the beach, shopping malls, offices, or evening affairs, kaftans proves to bring out the versatility in you.

For more information on kaftans, check out and


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