Beloved by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and J. Lo, the versatile caftan combines comfort, elegance, and glamour.
As surely as spritzes and sandals, caftans and their Slim Aarons allure signify the arrival of summer. So it may come as a jolt to learn that early caftans were made for war. In ancient Mesopotamia, soldiers wore them under chain mail, and they were crafted from stoutly quilted cloth—not exactly poolside wear.
Adapted as an item of everyday dress across the region, little changed other than a lightening in fabrication. Similar garments—essentially loosefitting, long-sleeve tunics—are found throughout the Middle East and North Africa and have intrigued Westerners since they first encountered these cultures: In an early version of the vacation photo, 18th and 19th-century European travelers of both sexes brought local dress back home and had themselves painted wearing it.
Like many of the Beautiful People, Princess Grace of Monaco favored colorful
caftans for resort and evening wear.
Princess Grace in 1960 in a colorful caftan.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal.