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Why Caftans?

A year and a half ago, I announced that I was starting a loungewear company focused primarily on caftans. For the most part, I got one of three responses from people: 1) “What’s a caftan?” 2) “OHMYGOD....I LOVE CAFTANS!!! I can’t wait! When are they going to be ready?!” and 3) “Why caftans?” My blog post today is for those who asked, “Why caftans?”

I’ve loved caftans for as long as I can remember. This may have something to do with growing up in the 1970s...the heyday of caftans in America. (Of course, most of the rest of the world had a few-thousand-year jump on us.) A caftan was the perfect bohemian garb for pot-smoking hippies in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. They’re easy and comfortable, they give a stylish, worldly vibe, and when you’re wearing a caftan (at least in private or on a commune), undergarments are optional. 

My mom was no fashion plate, but I have a very distinct memory of her wearing a caftan-inspired dress in a shimmering, jewel-toned paisley print and thinking it was the most glamorous thing I’d ever seen. I would kill for that dress right now. In fact, I’ve been searching thrift and vintage stores for decades hoping to track down a copy of it. 

I’ve now amassed quite a collection of caftans. They range from casual, cotton beach cover-ups to hand-dyed, beaded, silk designer gowns. That’s the beauty of a caftan. What other single garment could you wear for hanging around at home, running errands, driving carpool, lounging poolside, and attending a formal event? Even better, when was the last time you attended a formal gathering and didn’t have to contort yourself into a high-compression Spanx sausage or at least suck in your stomach all night? 

Like most women, my body is ever-changing. I’ve been super fit pre-kids when I could spend hours at the gym and I’ve been the size of a small whale in the last few weeks of my pregnancy with my second daughter. Now, in perimenopause (a delightful four-to-ten-year rollercoaster ride), my body is evolving yet again. I’ve grown into and out of hundreds of pairs of jeans in my 50+ years, but I’ve worn some of the same caftans since I was in my 20s. 

Finally, in these days of fast fashion, trends come and go at lightning speed. Landfills are packed with tons of discarded clothing, but the caftan remains timeless. What could be more sustainable than that?

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