After giving much thought to producing a productive and useful article on plus size and ethnic fashions, I came up with this. Hope you find it interesting to learn about caftans and their history before they were considered women’s clothing.
DID YOU KNOW-The caftan in the US is typically called a muumuu.
Also spelled, Kaftan; it was garment of ancient Mesopotamian origin, worn throughout the Middle East. Full-length, loosely-fitted garment with long or short sleeves worn by both men and women.
The origin of the caftan is usually tied to Asia Minorand Mesopotamia. Caftan-like robes are depicted in the palace reliefs of ancient Persia dating to 600 B.C.E. By the thirteenth century C.E., the style had spread into Eastern Europe and Russia, where caftan styles provided the model for a number of different basic garments well into the nineteenth century.
By the thirteenth century, the style had spread into Eastern Europe and Russia, where caftan styles provided the model for a number of different basic garments well into the nineteenth century. The caftan tradition was particularly elaborate in the imperial wardrobes of the 16th Ottoman Empire in Anatolian Turkey. Caftans of varying lengths were made from rich satins, velvets and silks, shot through with metallic threads to be worn by courtiers to indicate status.
Mens caftans often had gores added, causing the caftan to flare at the bottom, while womens garments were more closely fitted. Women were more likely to add sashes or belts. A sultan and his courtiers might layer two or three caftans with varying length sleeves for ceremonial functions. An inner short-sleeved caftan, was usually secured with an embroidered sash or jeweled belt, while the outer caftan could have slits at the shoulder through which the wearers arms were thrust to display the sleeves (sometimes with detachable expansions) of the inner caftan to show off the contrasting fabrics of the garments.
The Tatar-Mongol invasion led to a break in the contacts with Western Europe, and the immediate proximity with Turkic-speaking peoples led to a change in the form of Russian dress. Rashpatnyi clothing with a slit in front from top to bottom appeared, and men wore broad trousers. One must say at once that, even after having borrowed the cut, terminology, and certain elements of this foreign dress, Russians never lost their own national identity when it came to clothing. A good example of this is the caftan, a type of wide-opening garment with a deep wrap-over, worn by both men and women. The old Russian word for this garment is derived from the Persian word.
Caftan-style robes have been worn in many parts of the world where Islam has spread, particularly in North and West Africa. In parts of West Africa, the practice of layering robes to express the aesthetic principle of “bigness” in leadership dress and the giving of “robes of honor” is shared with the Ottoman tradition.