Friday, June 10, 2011

Kurtas, Caftans and Tunics -- OH MY!

If you're like us, at some point you've wondered what the different terms Kurta, Caftan and Tunic actually mean.   Well, let's try to break it down.  

Kurta:  (per Wiki) a traditional item of clothing worn in AfghanistanBangladeshIndiaNepalPakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women. A traditional kurta is composed of rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset inserts, and is cut so as to leave no wasted fabric. The cut is usually simple, although decorative treatments can be elaborate.
The sleeves of a traditional kurta fall straight to the wrist; they do not narrow, as do many Western-cut sleeves. Sleeves are not cuffed, just hemmed and decorated.
The front and back pieces of a simple kurta are also rectangular. The side seams are left open for 6-12 inches above the hem, which gives the wearer some ease of movement.

(Looks like Rikshaw Designs hits the nail on the head with their Kurtas!)

Rikshaw Designs Booti Kurta

Caftan:  According to, “A kaftan is a long flowing garment that has long sleeves, and is ankle length. The kaftan in original form was made of either silk or cotton and usually worn with a belt or sash around the waist... Sleeves may be either long or elbow length.”
Many women worldwide favor the caftan due to its versatility and comfort. In the United States kaftans ( caftans in the U.S.) are also called muumuus: loose fitting dresses of Hawaiian origin with bold prints.
Today's styles are no longer necessarily floor-length, with kaftan tunics offering versatility for the beach and the city.  

Shoshanna Caftan

Tunic:  According to,   The word tunic is a near direct translation from the Latin word tunica and is an ancient garment. It was first worn by the Byzantine Greeks, but became most associated with citizens and non-citizens in the Roman Empire. Yet in other countries that had little contact with Rome or Greece until later, like the Norse groups commonly called Vikings, people wore simple tunics. Perhaps the simple structure and design of the tunic is responsible for its spontaneous evolution in several parts of the world.
The first tunic style was simple indeed. It was a long garment, typically about knee length, and usually worn belted with blousing above the belt. It generally featured short sleeves. Roman citizens might wear a toga over their tunic, and Roman soldiers wore tunics under their armor. The garment had an unsewn portion at the head, seams on the sleeve and seams on the side. If you think of a potato sack with a slit to fit for the head and openings on each side to fit the arms, you essentially have the tunic.
(Melissa Odabash has certainly taken the Tunic from simple to SEXY!)
Melissa Odabash Carrie Tunic

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