Where to find a good kaftan
Every summer, I operate a two-tier kaftan system: cotton versions that go over a wet bikini on the beach (try Boden and Zara for these), which get softer and better with age, and the posher kaftan dress for an easy, elegant everyday outfit. Think wafting around holiday markets, putting one on for a passeggiata and wearing to work during a British heatwave. As with pyjama dressing, kaftan dressing takes a relaxed, decadent approach to daywear but is not the same as going out in your actual pyjamas/beachwear. No one wants that. Extra bonus points, then, to the multitasking frock that works just as well in the Mediterranean as on the Metropolitan line.
But apart from chic holiday markets in the Med, where do you find a good kaftan? First off, If you’re looking in the beach or swimwear section of department stores then you’re in the wrong place. By kaftan I don’t mean flimsy, bedazzled, polyester, doesn’t-cover-up-anything bit of nonsense. No, the kaftan has had a grown-up makeover. Head straight to the dress section instead or take the search online. The key is to find one in a substantial fabric – natural fabrics such as heavyweight linen and cotton poplin are always a good option.
This full-length linen number is by Cyprus-based label YUMEworld available via Etsy. I’ve spoken about it before on That’s Not My Age, and at £150, it wasn’t cheap, but then it doesn’t live in my holiday box for 50 weeks of the year. I’ve worn it around town, to festivals and it’s always a great throw-on-and-go option for that all-important “business coffee”. Just add a pair of doorknocker earrings and flat leather sandals to take the look from holiday to home again. (This kaftan of dreams is called the JEFF and comes in several different colourways).
Toast is a great place to look for a cosmopolitan cover-up. Check out the black/parchment patterned Ikat kaftan dress and the ecru/charcoal textured stripe smock dress. Olive’s shirt dresses could go from sightseeing to business meeting; the red-striped cotton style has an easy-breezy vibe, while the linen button-down version looks like it’s not going to wilt halfway through the working day. Arket is the home of monastic, pared-down style with the relaxed silk dress and the cotton embroidered (or plain) shirt dress being perfect for the minimalists among us.
The kaftan dress is also the perfect, faff-free solution to the Post Holiday Dilemma (PHD) – or, what to wear when you’re back in town but your brain is still in Skiathos. Is it a dress or is it a cover-up? If it makes getting dressed in the morning easier, who really cares?
This post is based on a piece I wrote for The Pool. Read the full feature here.
And now for a fine selection of kaftan dresses…
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