(Re)Considering The Caftan

Summer outfit with striped caftan, leather sandals, straw bag and red jewelry accents. Details at une femme d'un certain age.With summer just beginning and some serious heatwaves already upon us, the concept of caftan dressing is taking on a new appeal. While I once thought of caftans as only being appropriate for around the pool or lounging at home, I’m reconsidering my stance.

Above: tunic | bangles | sandals | earrings | bag | pants

This one is long enough to wear as a dress during the day, and short enough to throw over some white linen pants to go out to dinner. Channel your Haute Bohemian with a raffia bag and simple, bold jewelry.

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  1. I see a lot of these at the beach, and own a few myself. I’m fine with them over a swimsuit to/from the water like a dress, but if you’re going to wander off to the market or dinner in it and it’s gauzy, you need to wear a layer under it.

  2. I bought one in Mexico this past winter to wear out at night but realized later it was too gauzy. I ended up using it as a swimsuit coverup. So be careful if you buy one, you don’t want everyone seeing thru to your underwear!

  3. Funny – I was just researching caftans myself over the weekend. For some reason, I am drawn these days to styles that are both modest, stylish, and comfortable, in both hot weather and AC. I love that caftan you featured, but definitely prefer it with the white trousers to the bare legs – it just looks too much like a beach cover-up otherwise.

    There’s a huge market for high-end “modest fashion” these days (for wealthy Muslims, Orthodox Jews, et al.). Styles that don’t fall into the frumpy “sister-wife” look. I just discovered TheModist.com. Here’s a link to their vacation styles: https://www.themodist.com/en/edits/vacation-edit. Definitely more in your price-range than mine, but wonderful for inspiration. This outfit especially: https://www.themodist.com/en/edits/vacation-edit/alcestes-silk-blend-palazzo-trousers/129401605.html?cgid=vacation-edit&dwvar_129401605_color=1605

  4. Tried a few. I’m 5’4” and not thin but not obese. Size 14 now. I have average length legs for my height. Although comfortable, in general I think caftans are not attractive on the general run of women. In my opinion, they look like a cross between a muumuu and a maternity top unless your proportions are like the model above. The longest tunic I wear is 32” and the one above is just about right there but without much shape. My point is….be careful or you might end up looking like the Golden Girls! I’m sure Susan can pull one off however!

    1. I guess the word “tunic” is less weighted to me than “caftan.” I think of “caftan” as frumpy old lady clothes. A tunic over leggings = winning. A caftan over leggings = Elizabeth Taylor during her fat period.

      As far as Golden Girls, I loved Dorothy’s style. Which is pretty much tunic + pants.

  5. These hit my radar, as well. I took a look at a couple of links, the one I really liked had an elastic waist, which kind of defeats the purpose IMO.

  6. I’ve tried caftans and tunics. I’m tall and busty and if I don’t have some sort of definition at the waist, I look enormous.

    1. Completely agree! I’m 5’9″ and busty but not overweight. This style would make me look pregnant (as does anything with an empire waist!) But I love the look on others 🙂

  7. I love that Tory Burch caftan but I find her styles are suited for the tall and thin. I’ve purchased her clothing before and it just never fits right. I would definitely wear a caftan but the material can be a bit too voluminous for someone 5’2″. The proportions, length, shoulders and width would have to be perfect or you’d look like you’re wearing a bed sheet.

  8. In my caftan experiments, I’ve been forced to conclude that if you’re not almost completely flat-chested, it’s too easy to end up looking like an elderly pregnant lady (post-menopausal, good trick). I wish this comfortable style worked for me, but it doesn’t.

  9. I adore them. The interior designer Bunny Williams (NYC) inspired me to make myself a few (since what I make can me EXACTLY what I want.) Being a thin five-feet-fiver with moderate boobs, I can carry it off. They are so, so comfortable in the miserable mid-western heat, and I always think of the phrase I learned during my recovery, many years ago (I am happy to say–still sober). The phrase is, “Wear the world like a loose garment.” That is what my caftans are.
    Thank you for the post.

  10. Love those hoop J Crew earrings, currently on sale too. The color white is calling as an all-around classic summer color . . . when I lived in Florida, I loved my caftans. Here in Idaho not as much though I could re-consider . . .

  11. I love this look, and I’m so glad there’s a style for all of us, with our various sizes and shapes.

  12. This is regarding one of your latest finds – camo utility pants. This year I found that I am really interested in camo pants but don’t want to overdo the Army/hunter look. Can you suggest more stylish ways (accessorized) to wear those pants in various shades. I have looked through Pinterest but have found very few images I like.

  13. I have been searching for one that is not too long for a swimsuit coverup and not too short. I have terrible legs! I agree with everyone above. I am 5’4 and farely busty…afraid I will look like an old pregnant lady as well!