Classic Style

Caftan Queen.

By: Jen Shoop

Mr. Magpie lives by fairly strict and highly idiosyncratic rules about what should be done at various points in the day. Even though I am a rule follower by nature, I find myself rebelling against many of his self-appointed directives: we both agree that the bed should be made within about an hour of waking, but that’s where our agreement on time-of-the-day rules ends. For example he feels there is a “breakfast window,” a “lunch window,” and a “dinner window.” If he somehow misses “the breakfast window” by not eating something by 10 a.m., he will fast until lunch — at which point, only “lunch fare” is admissible. Thus, he is the only white male under the age of 40 who actively hates brunch. And don’t even get him started on the “monstrosity” of “breakfast for dinner” — a tradition I cherished as a child. I could eat pancakes all the livelong day, and will admit that I have indulged in more than my fair share of cereal at odd mealtimes in my day, but he will recoil in disgust if I share such admissions.

But perhaps his biggest bugaboo is wearing pajamas before bedtime.

On the one hand, I see his point. Like my own parents, he tends towards formality: I was raised in a household where we sat together at the formal dining table with a linen tablecloth every night for dinner–and were expected to dress accordingly. (“No hats at the table!” my mom would chant in my brother’s direction. “Tuck in your shirt!” my father would follow.) I like the notion of dressing nicely for dinner, of sitting down and recognizing that moment in the day as something special and familial.

And I have always been a huge proponent of “getting dressed” for the day, even when I work from home and the likelihood that I will see anyone is nil. I carry myself differently when I have put thought into what I am wearing, when I feel good about myself and my appearance. In college, I regularly wore sundresses to class, even when about half of my classmates would roll up in athleisure or straight-up sleepwear.

But by around six-thirty or seven p.m., I crave comfort. I want to be out of my constricting jeans and into loose cotton. I long for the breeziness of a robe, the fluff of my ridiculous slippers underfoot. And yet I respect Mr. Magpie’s perspective so dearly and dread his inevitable query — “PJs already?” with such ferocity that I will try to wait until after mini has gone to bed and we are approaching the hour of sleep to change.

And that is why I have become a caftan queen.

The caftan is the perfect loophole to this quandary. It projects a point of view, but is effortless and comfortable. Mr. Magpie understands it as a dress even though it is closer to a nightgown. And when you wear one, you feel you’ve attained some level of urban boho chicness you didn’t quite think you were capable of.

Below, my favorite caftans. (Incidentally, a great buy for pregnancy and post-pregnancy.)

+Pippa Holt. I’ve drooled over this label (shown above) for seasons now — and they also carry mini-me styles. All of the pieces from this collection are hand-made and take about a month (!) to produce.

+SZ Blockprints — DUH. I’ve talked your ear off about this brand, but they are loose, airy, adorable, and better priced than a lot of the other styles out there.

+Emerson Fry. Love the shape/cut of this style.

+Mi Golondrina. The hand embroidery on these one-of-a-kind pieces is insane! Obsessed. They also just launched a special collaboration with Maisonette for children, and their pieces are swoon-worthy.

+Hemant and Nandita. I simply love the print of this style.

+Frances Valentine. I just ordered one to wear home from the hospital.

+Anything from Muzungu Sisters, but especially this embroidered style.

+Innika Choo – – not quite a caftan, but these tiered maxis will do the trick.

+A shorter length: this, from La Sireneuse Positano.

+This from 9seed. Can’t get enough ric rac these days!

+Dodo Bar Or.

+Roller Rabbit.

+Not quite a caftan, but how cool is this animal-print kimono?!

Basically any of these could be worn out of home with a pair of smart sandals. I tend to rely on my Hermes Orans to tie a look like this together, but I also love the look with either statement slides like these or leather lace-up sandals like these (get the look for less with these).

P.S. More on rule following and, in a similar vein, living life as an anticipator.

P.P.S. Little luxuries for even the smallest of homes and an exhaustive roundup of my favorite home products.

P.P.P.S. Currently reading. (A must-add to your tsunodku pile if you’re a francophile or Paris lover like myself.)

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14 thoughts on “Caftan Queen.

  1. Much more casual than what you’ve included here, and I definitely feel no concern about the time of day that I’m in sweatpants, but I will say that Dwell + Slumber house dresses are wildly comfortable, BF ready, and a clear step up from PJs. Highly recommended.

  2. Agree on the brunch front! Just don’t find it a good use of time. I opt to make a delicious early breakfast that will lead to a productive morning. A mimosa or Bloody Mary may taste good going down, but makes me ready for a nap.

  3. Caftans for life! My husband calls them my “New Mexico outfits” – I’m not sure why, we’ve never been there together – I think he’s thinks they look like something hippy dippy retirees to Taos would wear? But, I agree, they’re so comfy but look nice too – sort of like wearing pajamas in public – which I would NEVER do, but caftans are okay! I’ve gotten all sorts of compliments when I wear mine out. Thanks for all the different brands to check out – can’t wait to order more!

    1. Haha! New Mexico outfits — love that 🙂 Agree. They are so chic and versatile but the equivalent of wearing PJs (comfort-wise) in public.


  4. Omg yes! My boyfriend is just like Mr Magpie and famously sent me to tears and lasting emotional fretting over a particularly zingy “pjs already?!” I still occasionally worry if the incident permanently damaged his sense of my normally fastidious propriety….ugh.

    I thought perhaps investing some chicer pajama day would be more apropos on evenings that I just NEED to be comfortable but it often feels too fussy. Jumping on your caftan solution- thank you!

    1. Haha — Mr. Magpie will get such a kick out of this. Personally, I don’t think men realize how uncomfortable women’s clothing can be compared to men’s clothing. If I was wearing loose-fitting khakis and a button-down or polo most days, I’d also be like “what’s the fuss?” We have tight pants, cinched waists, moving straps, etc, etc to contend with.

      But. Caftans are a win win all around 🙂

  5. This is so interesting! I have worked from home for the better part of 4 years and do make an effort to get dressed each morning — and I was like this in college as well (sundresses!), and couldn’t understand the mentality behind wearing PJs to class! Haha. I like feeling comfy at the end of the day, though typically I don’t change out of my daily clothes until bedtime. Perhaps it’s because I don’t yet own any caftans?! I’ve been so tempted by the SZ Blockprints Kitty dress, and love the options by Innika Choo and Emerson Fry as well. 🙂 xx

    1. You won’t be disappointed by either of those labels — I own several pieces from both Innika Choo and SZ Blockprints and love both dearly 🙂 Sounds like we’re in a similar headspace in general about dressing up though. xx

  6. Love this. My husband and I (fellow white NYC 30-something professionals) hate brunch too and always feel alone in that opinion! We like having three set meals a day. Brunch throws everything off!

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