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Behold the Caftan, the Ultimate Vacation Outfit

The caftan may have its roots in the ancient lands of the Fertile Crescent, but the multitasking garment is still relevant today. Doing triple duty as a beach coverup, a party dress, and everything in between, the caftan is a perfect travel partner.

The caftan serves so many functions it’s basically the Swiss Army knife of clothing—not too dressy for the beach nor too casual for a night out on the town. Which makes sense given the simple garment has its roots in ancient Mesopotamian and evolved to be worn by the swanky sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Covering the skin of all your extremities, it’s ideal for sunny days and conservative countries. Integral to its charm and versatility is how the caftan covers everything but somehow still manages to be sexy. It’s also apropos for those somewhere-in-between casual and dressy moments like sightseeing and lunch. In a pinch, the loungy look can even work for bed or a red-eye flight. All hail the caftan! Here are a few of our favorites.

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This Lovely Caftan

The Submarine Stripe Kaftan by LOVE Binetti seems to have been crafted with the stylish traveler in mind. Lightweight with a playful combo of sweet bib detail and cotton fringe, this one would work well in Zanzibar.

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This Tie-Dye Caftan

Named in honor of the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel, it’s easy to picture a traveler standing on deck in her Natori Cozumel Caftan waiting to pull up to shore.

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This Simple and Elegant Caftan

The only thing better than a regular caftan is a caftan with pockets. Give it up for the long sleeve caftan in double gauze by 9seed, a brand that serves the beach bohemian in all of us.

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This Colorful Striped Caftan

The artisan-driven lemlem brand was founded by Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede and is produced entirely in Africa. Wear the Eskedar Caftan on that trip to Addis Ababa you’ve been meaning to take.

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This Caftan That Is Very Space-Like

For a blingier version, the Sya metallic linen kaftan by SU Paris will take you from the beach to sundowners and straight onto the club.

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A Simple Etsy Caftan

Etsy is a great place to go caftan hunting. This linen maxi model from MyBaliCloset comes in more than a dozen colors and plus sizes and the price is right.

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A Somewhat Less Simple Etsy Caftan

Another stunning Etsy find is this pure black linen caftan with a risque open front and unexpected cotton lace at the shoulders from Cyprus based YUMEworld shop.

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This Queen-Like Caftan

The plunging neckline, cinched waist, and tie-dye pattern make this caftan the right pick for the Jersey Shore or a long weekend in East Hampton.

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This Striped Caftan

The black and white stripes! The electric blue pom-pom trim! The Paolina Striped Tassel-Trim Kaftan by Figue is everything and then some.

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A Chic White Caftan

Another black and white winner, the Valenza Dress by Nili Lotan, is light on breezy cotton gauze and heavy on embroidery. This caftan makes sense for exploring the wineries and castles of the ancient town of Valenza after which it is named, located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

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A Yellow Caftan

If money is no object, we will live vicariously through you if you end up in this sublime  Zero Maria Cornejo caftan in Smile Yellow. The linen-silk blend dress has pockets and comes with a grosgrain tie belt.

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A Caft-Man (Sorry)

Any man who can rock a caftan qualifies to be our bestie. The brown agate caftan by Mexcian resort wear brand HECHO is crafted from lightweight linen-poplin with an optional belt to keep things interesting.

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