From Rachel Zoe to Transparent: The Caftan Update

Soooo, Jeffrey Tambor has never exactly been considered a style icon, and the word “caftan” has more often than not evoked visions of girls more “Golden” than glam, but we can’t help but being slightly and secretly obsessed with his blatant caftan love in Transparent. The truth is, the caftan (or, alternatively, “kaftan”) is a garment with more history than most of modern civilization, and has never failed to find a new life on a regular basis in the fickle cycles of fashion trendiness.

Right now, in the context of footloose and fancy free boho style — and with a boost from the ever-present caftan love expressed by longtime devotees Rachel Zoe  and Nicole Ritchie – the caftan is enjoying renewed attention, and when we’re talking about a loose, carefree and comfy fashion trend (right around the holidays, no less)? Yeah, we’re in.

The caftan is a trend, however, fraught with danger – there’s a fine line between being effortlessly chic and just, well, a frumpy chick. For actual real-life wearability, forget going full-on later-years Liz Taylor (sorry Jeffrey) and look for modern items that are caftan-inspired, like a surprisingly sexy “caftan” sweater or a short caftan-inspired dress over leggings.

Another possible pitfall? Believing that a roomy cut means size doesn’t matter. Caftans may be full and flowy by definition, but that doesn’t mean they should swallow you whole (or be purchased in a too-large size to camouflage – that’s not fooling anyone). To be chic, a caftan or caftan-like garment should actually fit – meaning the shoulders sit where your shoulders actually are, and sleeve and hem length are proportional to your actual size.

Our picks for some caftan-inspired style this winter:

Ecote Deep-V Caftan, $59, Urban Outfitters


Kerry Oversized Aztec Print Kaftan Maxi Dress, $20 on sale,


Charlie Woven Multi Trim Kaftan Dress, $26,


Color Block Paisley Print Dress, $15 on sale,




Angela is a senior writer who's been hanging around TBF since way back in 2007. When she's not weighing in on the merits of, say, feathers as a fashion statement, Angela works as a bridal consultant in the St. Louis area. She also enjoys sunsets, and long walks in Target.