Photo by April Jones Firoozabadi
Escada Spring/Summer 2011 Kaftan (left)
Escada Spring/Summer 2011 Kaftan (left)

We're still a couple weeks away from the first day of summer, but like it or not, the scorching heat and sticky humidity is already upon us.  So why not keep cool in a kaftan?!  Besides being extremely comfortable this exotic look is laid back yet glamorous and provides a break from typical summer frocks - linen pants, cotton dresses and short shorts.  

Talk about a forever trend.  Kaftans have been in style for centuries, dating back to the Ottoman Empire, and each region of the world has their own version of them, from Africa to Turkey to Russia.  Traditional kaftans are beautifully designed with detailed embroidery and made of the finest fabrics and often worn with pants underneath. 

If you can't get your hands on a traditional kaftan, not to worry, numerous designers like Escada and Tibi created beautiful modified versions of the kaftan dress for their Spring/Summer 2011 collections.  ASOS also has a fabulous selection of kaftan dresses to choose from at half the designer price.  So don't worry though, you won't have to jet off to the bazaars of Marrakech to get yours (but if you can get there definitely pick up a few!) because there are plenty of options here in your own backyard! 

Helene Berman Premium Lizard Kimono Kaftan (Photo by: ASOS) Helene Berman Premium Lizard Kimono Kaftan

You'll see them belted or with a cinched empire-, mid-, or low-waist and they look great dressed up or down.  The kaftan-kimono blend provides another option if you don't want to rock a lengthy dress. Rock your kaftan with chunky bracelets or oversized chandelier earrings and flats or keep it simple and pair it with strappy heeled sandals. 

They're beach friendly, too!  Whether you're headed to St. Tropez or Hawaii, these are great pieces to include in your suitcase for your upcoming summer getaway.  Throw on a sheer animal print kaftan over your bikini and you'll be a chic beach bunny.  Pair a jersey patterned kaftan at night with a pair of gold chandelier earrings and dressy flats and you're ready for a sunset dinner.

Roberto Cavalli Leopard Print Chiffon Kaftan Dress (Photo by: Luisa Via Roma) Roberto Cavalli Leopard Print Chiffon Kaftan Dress

Roberto Cavalli's wild prints provide the perfect backdrop to create a fabulous kaftan, like this one available at Luisa Via Roma.

Since these dresses truly speak for themselves, avoid accessory overkill.  Shop for a casual kaftan - perhaps a cotton print kaftan - and a fancier kaftan - like a silk, floral print kaftan - and you'll be sure to make good use out of both! 

Head out to Eastern Market on a Sunday, or Ella Rue and ask the vendor(s) or owner if they have any kaftans in stock - you'd be surprised what you can find if you do a little searching.  

Enjoy finding yours!