Kaftans trace their history back to the middle-eastern countries. They have been worn for centuries and have evolved over time. Most often, kaftans refer to ankle-length garments that are long flowing and have long sleeves. Traditionally, they were worn by men. The kaftans could be buttoned down the front. Nowadays kaftans are worn by both men and women, although in the western world it is considered a womens garment. With fashion trends changing, the length of the kaftans has been experimented with and nowadays kaftans can be of variable length. Kaftans are closed in the front and you have to slip it over your head to wear it.
Kaftans are worn by people world over though the name given to them does change from place to place. In West Africa, kaftans are worn by women for both formal and informal occasions. These garments are called boubou in French. The informal fabrics used for making kaftans are mud cloth, batik, tie-dye etc. The formal kaftans use cotton, lace, linen, silk etc. Different varieties of kaftans can be seen in Russia, South East Asia, India and Morocco.
During the olden times, the kaftans were popularised by the royals of Ottoman Empire. There was a strict dress code and the class determined the colour and variety of kaftans to be worn. Now there is a wide selection of kaftans that can be worn anywhere. Kaftans are made of many fabrics. They come with various motifs and prints on them. Some have elaborate embroidery work. Some show originality in cut. Cotton is the most suitable fabric if the kaftans are worn during summer. If you plan to wear them in a fancy place, you could try silk or satin kaftans.
The kaftans mostly worn by the women in the western countries are called muumuu. These do not have a belt and are usually considered beachwear. Kaftans, when thus used, are worn as a covering over the swimsuit. Because they are loose and flowing, they let a lot of breeze in and are thus comfortable.
When wearing kaftans to the beach, you can partner it with a beach hat, smart sunglasses and a beach bag. But fashion experts feel that use of kaftans need not be limited just to the beach. They can be worn in almost all situations and can compliment a lot of clothes and accessories. If you would like to wear kaftans formally, you could try pairing it up with tight trousers, high heel sandals and a nice leather bag. You may also wear a wide belt around the kaftan to accentuate the look.
If you want to give your kaftans that office-wear look, you could try clubbing it with black, tight, knee-length skirt. Add your formal shoes, bag and long overcoat and you are all set! Kaftans can be worn casually too. You can wear kaftans over your jeans or shorts, accessorise with colour-coordinated wooden bangles, you may also wear a long metal chain around your neck and finish off the look with a matching pretty handbag.