Over the years, the term ‘kaftan’ has evolved to become an umbrella term in fashion for any loose-fitting robe or tunic, often used to describe various garments originating from the Middle East and North Africa, such as the abaya or the djellaba.
A typical kaftan is a narrow cut, long robe with full sleeves, featuring a deep open neck or fully open to the floor, and sometimes buttoned. This voluminous garment without defined sleeves is usually designed from breathable fabrics such as cotton, silk, or linen.
Kaftans are commonly associated with Middle Eastern and North African cultures, where they are often worn as a piece of unisex clothing. In recent years, kaftans have become increasingly popular as a sleepwear for girls, owing to their comfortable and relaxed fit. When worn over appropriate girls inner wear, kaftans make for the perfect outfit for lounging.
The Kaftan in Different Cultures
The origins of the kaftan can be traced back to the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, where it was worn by both men and women. At that time, the kaftan was a simple, rectangular-shaped garment made from wool or linen, with holes cut out for the head and arms. It was primarily used as a protective layer against the harsh desert climate and was therefore designed to be loose-fitting and comfortable.
As time went on, the kaftan evolved and became more ornate, with decorative trim, embroidery, and beading. The Persians and Ottomans are credited with popularizing the kaftan throughout the Middle East and Europe, as they added their own cultural influences to the garment.
In the Ottoman Empire, for example, the kaftan was far from being used as a sleepwear for girls- they were worn by members of the royal court and were a symbol of wealth and status. They were often made from luxurious fabrics such as silk, satin, and brocade and were adorned with intricate embroidery and gold and silver thread. The level of embellishment on these kaftans was a reflection of the wearer's social status, with the sultans and their families wearing the most ornate designs.
In Morocco, the kaftan has been a part of traditional dress for both men and women since the 16th century. The Moroccan kaftan, known as the djellaba, is typically made from wool or cotton and features a hood. These kaftans are often embroidered with intricate designs and patterns, with the level of detail depending on the occasion and the wearer's social status.
In West Africa, the kaftan is known as the boubou and is typically worn by men. The boubou is a loose-fitting garment that is often made from colorful, patterned fabrics such as wax prints. The fabric designs are often symbolic and have cultural significance, with certain patterns associated with specific ethnic groups or regions. The boubou is often worn as a symbol of cultural identity and pride.
In Recent Times
Today, kaftans are available in a wide range of styles, colors, and fabrics. This is due in part to the rise of the bohemian and hippie fashion trends, which have embraced loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. They can be worn as casual or formal wear, depending on the occasion. In the world of sleepwear and loungewear, kaftans are a popular choice due to varied reasons.
The kaftan is now a popular sleepwear for girls and women owing to its comfort and practicality. The loose and flowing design of the kaftan allows for maximum breathability and ease of movement, making it an ideal sleepwear option for warmer weather or for those who prefer looser fitting garments. Additionally, the soft and lightweight fabrics used to make kaftans, such as cotton and silk, offer a comfortable and luxurious feel against the skin.
Whether you're wearing a traditional Moroccan djellaba, a luxurious Ottoman-style kaftan, or a modern, bohemian-inspired version, the kaftan remains an enduring symbol of comfort, style, and cultural identity.
The garment has a long and rich history, dating back thousands of years. From its humble origins as a simple garment made from wool or linen, to its evolution as a symbol of wealth and status, to its current incarnation as a popular sleepwear and loungewear worn over girls inner wear, the kaftan has undergone many changes over the centuries.Here at Mackly, we have a collection of printed kaftans made from 100% rayon. Whether it is intended for sleeping or lounging around the house, the kaftans on our website can make a great addition to any woman’s wardrobe.