The kaftan or caftan is a simple garment that has been worn for thousands of years by both men and women. It can be plain, striped or decorated; it may be the rustic garment of a peasant, or a magnifi cent robe fi t for a sultan.
Long associated with Islamic culture, the kaftan became popular in the West during the late 1960‛s and 70‛s when interest in comfortable clothing and ethnic styles made it a popular Bohemian style and an icon of the hippie movement.
It is a garment that is basically large, rectangular in shape, folded with a neck hole in the centre, and stitched up at the sides, leaving room for the arms. Its necklines can be squared, rounded, or V-necked.
It can be decorated or embroidered at the edge similar to a dashiki. Kaftans can be button-fronted, belted, or drawn at or above the waist with a drawstring. Kaftans are comfortable loose garments that somehow offer both modesty and allure.
They are glamorous, comfortable, exotic yet simple. A kaftan can be an expensive, designer made status symbol, or an inexpensive discount store purchase. They can be found at ethnic specialty boutiques, or made at home with or without a pattern.
Kaftans look wonderful on young women as well as older women, thin or heavy set women. They are airy and cool on a hot seasons and a saving grace during the harmattan.