Proof That Caftans Are For Everyone

What’s not to love about a caftan? It’s basically a bed sheet with sleeves, clocking in at a solid 10/10 on the comfort scale. When it’s 94 degrees outside and the notion of high-waist denim or a tight tank top sends a shiver up your already steamy spine, there are few outfits more enticing.

But a caftan is relatively shapeless, and tailoring does have its purposes. It provides support for larger busts, definition for any and all waistlines and elongation for short legs. There are all manner of such hang-ups around what types of bodies should be put in what types of clothes for the sake of “flattery,” and caftans certainly raise a few red flags. No darts? People with big boobs, beware! Below the knee? People under five-foot-five, beware! Too much fabric? People who aren’t a size two, beware! The thing is, these generalizations are kind of pointless. Style is rarely one-size-fits-all, and doesn’t hinge on an artfully placed seam or a color reserved for a certain portion of the calendar year. It’s way more about how something makes you feel. To prove this, we asked five people with very different body types to style themselves in a caftan that makes them feel freaking great.

Kellie Brown, Fashion Blogger at And I Get Dressed

I love a basic gray T-shirt, and this caftan sort of felt like a long version of my perfect one. It’s the ideal combination of comfy and cool; it’s like wearing a nightgown. There are few greater joys than an oversize dress, especially when it’s hot. It’s one of my favorite shapes to style. I’m one of those people who wants to layer even in summer, so I started by asking myself if I wanted to put something over or under this giant sack. I decided to go with a more dressed-up day look, so sequins happened. I debated between flatforms or Birkenstocks, but I wanted to add my dangly red earrings, so flatforms it was! I would wear this outfit to brunch, a day party, Duane Reade or acupuncture. I guess you could say it’s pretty versatile.

Kerry Pieri, Digital Fashion/Features Director at Harper’s Bazaar

I believe in going to designers for what they do best, and no one does caftans like Tory Burch. This one is so pretty. It makes me feel very “earth mother,” in a good way. My regular style skews more minimal, but since I’ve been pregnant, I’m very on board for all things pretty. I’ve always liked caftans and robes, but I would normally wear one sort of open over jeans or belted to not make it all so covered up. I’m cool with being more covered up now, but I like that this caftan has a nice drape. Trying to hide my shape doesn’t do me any favors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean full Kim K body-con. At this stage in my pregnancy, I am still going for a platform shoe, which I wore under this dress for some lengthening while remaining comfortable. I also added a Cult Gaia bag, in keeping with the caftan’s chic, beach-y vibe. Because of the print, I didn’t think it needed much else. I’d wear probably this outfit to an evening event or dinner. I don’t mind a gown for a laid-back affair.

Micaéla Verrelien, Blogger, Actress and Accountant

Being Caribbean, a lot of us wear caftans around the house or as a Saturday outfit. This is the first time I’ve tried “styling” one in a more elevated way, and it really changed the way I think about how and where I can wear them. The right accessories and shoes can make all the difference. I added gold jewelry to play up the bohemian vibe and furry sandals to add a little bit of “fanciness.” The fact that something so comfortable can also look put-together makes it the perfect garment for steamy summer days.

Aurora James, Creative Director of Brother Vellies

Blue and red are definitely colors outside of my regular palette and I’m trying to live a bit more in the edge these days. Wearing it, I felt not unlike Lenny Kravitz when he wore that giant sweater scarf: sort of awkward but overall way more comfortable than everyone else. I love being able to put on one garment and let my accessories do the talking. Caftans are especially fun for travel, but sometimes can feel too literal. A caftan on the Lower East Side almost makes more sense because it makes no sense. Am I making sense? As for my accessories, I’m wearing Brother Vellies woven flats and a Springbok Mini Island bag. They’re what I consider summer neutrals because they go with everything. I haven’t taken these shoes off since I got them and this caftan was not about to break that streak. I would wear this outfit to the office, to the bookstore, to drinks, to Whole Foods. Anywhere really. I’m all about only buying and wearing things that you can be content in at anytime in your 24-hour day.

Esther Levy, Freelance Writer

I settled on this particular caftan for its neutrality and shape and because it makes me feel like an extra in The Leftovers. I’ve been team caftan since before I learned its proper spelling because who doesn’t love a garment that swallows every inch of your frame while simultaneously making you feel as though you aren’t wearing anything at all? I chose to style this one with knit underwear because New York was undergoing a heat wave at the time and I believe the city’s fumes got to my head. At five-foot-three, I’m definitely on the shorter side, which means that 99% of the clothes I purchase need to be hemmed. And while I share a fulfilling and nurturing relationship with a Brooklyn tailor (Hi Peggy!), I decided to take matters into my own hands and knot this bad boy up instead.

Photos by Edith Young. 

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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