Kaftan is one of the most indispensable items of clothing that has the power to take you through summer to autumn and beyond.
Kaftan is one of the most indispensable items of clothing that has the power to take you through summer to autumn and beyond. The garment that’s been worn for centuries in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia makes you feel at ease when you want to hide your shape yet help you embrace your femininity. It’s neither bold like a mini nor dull like an old pair of jeans; it is just the right democratic item that doesn’t require you to be tall, thin or resemble a super model in a string bikini.
“It was a symbol of wealth and status in 14th century Persia. It was a symbol of the counterculture in the late 60s, but by the 70s it was worn by one and all,” says designer Gautam Gupta. “While the kaftan has ancient origins, its status as an accessible garment is long-lived. Its unfitted form has been irresistible to cultures all over the world for thousands of years,” he adds.
Kaftan comes in myriad styles and designs, and designer duo Ashima and Leena point out that each kaftan is different. They muse, “Some are oversized and triple-panelled, others more narrowly cut, and they all come in a stirring mix of shades adorned with myriad stitching patterns. No two are identical. And that makes it mysterious.”
The pace of life is so fast now, we zigzag through different time zones and climates, and yet still need to look elegant and pulled together. “Here’s where the kaftan’s versatility comes into play. These loose, flowy dresses work equally well as a pool cover-up as they do in the city. They’re no longer restricted to a holiday wardrobe. You can also wear them in the winter with stacked-heel boots and a layered polo neck sweater,” Leena of Ashima-Leena duo avers.
“The beauty of a kaftan,” says Gautam Gupta, “lies in the fact that the silhouettes aren’t so trend-led, and so they’re immune to looking dated. This is something many women find enormously appealing.”
He advises, “Floor-length flowy kaftan is the best option for evening wear or when attending functions like a wedding. Add a belt or sash to give it some shape for evening. You can also give your kaftan a shorter, asymmetrical look by tying a knot on one side of the bottom. If you want to add a rich feel to your kaftans, wear silk and satin ones. However, please go easy on a necklace because most kaftans are heavily beaded or patterned; bracelets, bangles and rings are fine. Flat leather sandals, colourful clogs, or the highest of heels can help you build the look from the beach to the ballroom.”