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A History of Moroccan Kaftans

moroccan Kaftan

A History of Moroccan Kaftans

Unlike most Moroccan girls, my first contact with a Kaftan was through embroidery at my aunt’s Kaftan atelier. She was a Kaftan fairy and I spent countless hours in her atelier learning beading and embroidery. I was fascinated by the intricate artwork involved in making a Kaftan, and my fascination grew bigger with time as I learned more about the richness of this Moroccan dress.

The Kaftan is a long one-piece dress embellished with elaborate ornamentation techniques passed down from generations of Maalems, the Kaftan artisans. The dress is trimmed with Sfifa, a Fez-made silk braid, and closed with a row of cherries-shaped buttons named Aakad which are made in Sefrou, home to the annual cherry festival.

kaftan dress embroidery details
Kaftan details

The caftan can sometimes be accompanied by a belt (m’damma) made of finely chiseled solid gold and encrusted with a fakrone (turtle) in the center, supposed to bring happiness and protect from the evil eye.

This very old outfit will however undergo many changes during its history.

Moroccan kaftan dress

In Morocco, every woman, and every little girl, have at least one Kaftan dress in their closet. The Kaftan is the first traditional dress a girl will wear in her life, and the dress she will be excited to wear in every next celebration.

Moroccan Kaftans are a Moroccan Woman Best Friend

The typical Moroccan caftan has a wide cut from the bottom, decorated with embroidery and sometimes stones and accessories. Depending on the designs, the chest, waist, bottom, and sleeves can also be embroidered and decorated. A beautiful belt, either in gold, silver, or made from the same materials as the dress completes the look.

moroccan caftan
Moroccan Princess Lalla Meryem and her beautiful daughter Lalla Soukaïna wearing stunning Kaftan dresses at the religious wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco.

Moroccan Kaftans are usually worn with high heels and accessorized with a clutch bag and/or a few jewelry pieces, which can be either discrete or dramatic.

red moroccan kaftan dress with embroideries
Stunning red Moroccan Kaftan dress with a simple belt and earrings

A Moroccan bride will often accessorize her caftan with a mix of large traditional jewelry pieces, including a tiara or crown. The more, the better.

wedding kaftan dress
Wedding Kaftan dress with large embroideries, jewelry and a tiara

In Morocco, Moroccan women can design their Kaftans from scratch with the help of a tailor, which I did many times and loved doing. The process takes a little longer, but the result is literally the dress of your dreams!

moroccan clothing

When it comes to colors, there are really no rules. Moroccan Kaftan dresses can be in either pastel, dark or flashy colors, or even a mix of the three.

caftan colors

Where to Buy Moroccan Kaftans

The best place to buy Kaftans from is Morocco, especially if you are looking for an artisanal piece handmade and hand embroidered. As I detail in my Morocco shopping guide, the best is to shop them directly from a respected traditional Moroccan tailor who can customize an existing piece or create one for you from scratch.

How to Design a Moroccan Kaftan

If you don’t know me yet, I used to spend most of my childhood years in my aunt’s traditional sewing shop in Morocco. My aunt was a traditional artisan in the field of Kaftans and traditional Moroccan clothing. I grew up seeing her create unbelievably beautiful Kaftan pieces for women and brides. That made me very sensitive to the quality of fabrics, the beauty of embroideries, and how a be-spoke caftan dress empowers a woman and makes her feel like a queen.

I have spent the last couple of years researching traditional Moroccan clothing in every region of Morocco and helping hundreds of women create their Caftan dream pieces. If you have any questions about the process of creating a traditional kaftan dress, reach out to me here. I’m always happy to help.

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Thank you for your help, Safa, I can’t be happier

Rated 5 out of 5
November 7, 2021

Safa, you made my wedding day! For the record, I was short on time and needed a caftan dress for my wedding day. I only had one month left and Safa was so so so nice and helped me design the piece and create it with the help of a Moroccan artisan. The Caftan was perfect! It fit me like a dream. The colors and embroideries were amazing and I just can’t thank her enough. Everyone asked me how I could manage to create such a beautiful caftan in a short period of time. Safa, thank you!!!

Rania Makhlouf

Response from Moroccanzest

aww thank you, Rania! I was so happy to help you design a caftan for your wedding day. You were fantastic in the pictures and the Caftan fit you like a glove! I’m glad I was able to contribute to this unbelievable day. Wish you all the best for your marriage, love, prosperity, and thousands of blessings. xx

designing my own caftan

Rated 5 out of 5
May 31, 2021

thank you so much for the tips. I followed your advice and I got in touch with a Moroccan tailor in Marrakech. I’m now in the process of designing a customized caftan with his help and I’m so excited. I combined a Turkish pink fabric my husband gifted me years ago with a cream Moroccan silk fabric. The ensemble will have embroidery in the center and pearls at the bottom. I can’t wait!

Jessica Merzak

Response from Moroccanzest

Your kaftan will look A-MA-ZING! I’m so excited for you, Jessica!

Style and colar

Rated 5 out of 5
May 24, 2022

Chic and luxury and sexy

Amel Meziani

Response from Moroccanzest

Thanks e! -xxx

My favorite moroccan dresses

Rated 5 out of 5
November 14, 2021

My mother is Moroccan and I remember she used to have 2 stunning kaftan dresses. I used to watch her wear them with her gold jewelry and she was so beautiful in them. Thank you for this beautiful article

Kimberley huston

Response from Moroccanzest

Oh, I feel you! A Kaftan is made to make every woman, whatever shape and age, look stunning!

Recommendations

Rated 5 out of 5
November 14, 2021

Hi. I find Moroccan kaftans alluring and elegant. I would like to buy one myself for a formal family occasion. However, I live in Switzerland. Could you please recommend some online shops selling good kaftans.

Maneha

Response from Moroccanzest

Hi Maneha, I no longer recommend websites as many of my readers have had disappointing experiences buying Kaftans online – Unfortunately, I have no control over the quality of kaftans these websites offer and I know how frustrating it is to receive a highly anticipated kaftan dress that finally looks cheap or that doesn’t fit. I sent you an email with more information about the process of working with a Moroccan artisan Morocco who can help you find or create a beautiful traditional Kaftan dress that fits your body. Hope that helps. -xx

Safa moroccanzest

contact@moroccanzest.com

I'm Safa, a Moroccan Native who used to spend her childhood afternoons exploring Medina streets and embroidering in her aunt's little Moroccan sewing shop. Years later and thousands of miles away from Morocco, here I am, reconnecting with my passions: Morocco, Moroccan food and Moroccan fashion and design. I hope you enjoy this little Moroccan bubble