Kaftan dressing at home and away

— by Alyson Walsh

Chrissie Stripe maxi, NRBY


Is it a dress, is it a kaftan? If it makes getting dressed in the morning easier, who really cares? The kaftan dress has superb pull-on-and-go properties, for me, it’s a grown-up summer style staple that works just as well in the Med as it does on the Metropolitan Line. Think wafting around holiday markets, pulling one on for a passeggiata and wearing to work during a British heatwave. Kaftan dressing takes a relaxed, decadent approach to daywear but is not the same as going out in your actual beach kit.

Natural fabrics such as heavyweight linen and cotton poplin are always a good option. Toast is an excellent place to look for dresses that could go effortlessly from sightseeing to a coffee meeting. See the Mexican tile print dress, the square cut cotton twill dress and the garment dyed linen smock dress. Scandi favourite Arket is the home of pared-down pieces, such as the striped cotton kaftan dress and the printed viscose kaftan. Sister label & Other Stories linen/cotton blend striped kaftan looks like the kind of cover-up discovered at the medina in Marrakech  – and I keep coming back to COS’ petrol blue, striped cotton shirt dress. Another favourite is-it-a-dress-is-it-a-kaftan is Boden’s seriously versatile Freya Linen shirt dress (£85). For something you’ll reach for again and again, there is the Geff kaftan from Yume World (£202). It doesn’t come cheap but it won’t be abandoned at the bottom of your laundry basket before the end of summer (I’ve worn mine all-over from breakfast meetings to press views and festivals).

The fashion crowd are all over Dodo Bar Or and Pippa Holt, and admittedly, they are quite lovely, but when the outfit costs as much as the holiday, it’s time to draw the line.


NRBY Chrissie linen shirtdress


When you read this I’ll be relaxing on holiday in Italy, in the monochrome Chrissie dress from NRBY (first photo, above). This is definitely a new label to watch. Founder Jo Hooper, former womenswear director at Debenhams (part of the team responsible for launching Designers at Debenhams) and John Lewis, developed NRBY in response to increasing numbers of us working flexibly and the demand for just-smart-enough clothes that fit this lifestyle. ‘We call it one-mile-wear’ Jo explains, ‘clothes to be worn within one mile from your front door, on those days when you’re working from home, nipping out for a quick coffee or racing around running errands. Comfort and ease are essential but we all want to feel contemporary.’ The range started with simple shirts in washed cotton and linen, ‘Then we added a maxi shirtdress, some cotton/cashmere blend knitwear, the softest jersey t-shirts, linen jumpsuits – and ta-dah! An edited range of clothes in natural fabrics, to be worn everyday, was born.’

NRBY is available online and there is also a pop-up shop on Elizabeth Street, London, until the end of August. The brand has a summer session lined up at Anthropologie from June 26th – July 14th and will be launching in John Lewis August 1st (in selected stores plus online).

Style Note: To be honest, I would really only wear the cotton Chrissie dress when there’s a beach nearby; it’s a cheesecloth fabric and a bit too lightweight for the city.

Follow my holiday adventures on Instagram.


And there’s a  jumpsuit…

More home and holiday ready pieces here:

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  Is it a dress, is it a kaftan? If it makes getting dressed in the morning easier, who really cares?