In the past years, we were living in the age of the sarong, and short, sexy, sequinned numbers covered every bikini and one-piece from Benidorm to St Barts. The kaftan, with its roomy drapes of fabric, was the epitome of uncool. It was a Seventies throwback, a hoary relic of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young era. No one with a sense of style wanted anything so long and all-encompassing, so irredeemably polyester and oh so horribly reminiscent of Abigail's Party. It was so far off the fashion radar that it hardly even qualified as vintage.

But three decades later, on the 30th anniversary of Mike Leigh's middle-class satire, so memorably and unfashionably epitomised by Alison Steadman, the kaftan has come back to life. Slowly, quietly, the floaty cover-up has staged an uprising: it has swamped the sarong and overpowered the pareo to become the mainstay of the holiday wardrobe. It is now a fashion classic.

Runway: If you could buy gilded bohemia straight off-the-peg, it would come in the form of a kaftan. It is an essential in every wardrobe because it not only protects you from the sun but it also hides all the parts of your body that you don't want to show.

Reality: Hot days call for cool clothes so pick fine white cotton and stay box-fresh. Make your kaftan work for the city by cinching it with a wide leather belt and wearing it with your skinny jeans. If you're petite you should wear your kaftan short; floor-skimming styles of old are reserved for the tall and lean alone. Pare down a sultry embellished cover-up with tousled undone hair.It's all about laid-back elegance so go barefoot ala Kate Moss or opt for barely-there flat thong-sandals.


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Live and Learn said... @ January 21, 2008 at 7:45 PM

Congratulations on an informative article. I have included your link in my online fashion article: The Caftan Dress and How to Wear It.

Here is the URL:

e said... @ February 6, 2008 at 7:50 AM

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