A Tale of Two Caftans

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anthropologie vale maxi shirtdress

I shared in a recent Friday Shop post that I had dreams of being a “21st Century Mrs. Roper” but didn't like how I looked or felt in caftans.  While the whole internet seems to be in love with the concept of a nap dress, I've been gravitating towards elevated athleisure.  But with a recent Anthropologie order I realized it wasn't dresses in general, it was caftans.

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Dress: Anthropologie (Large Petite) | Earrings: Jenny Bird | Ring: c/o REALM | Shoes: Bella Vita (similar concept)

I ordered a few things, and the only thing I am keeping is this dress.  What's funny is this was the thing I was least sure about ordering.  I worried it may feel heavy on, that it may not fit my bust, that it would feel too structured and complicated for life that is primarily at home.  It's available in standard, petite, and plus sizes and two colors; when I saw the blue option I worried this would look too much like a bathrobe.  But I figured I'd try and see.  I am so glad I did.

anthropologie petite review

The dress is not heavy; it is viscose and has beautiful drape without weight.  It isn't lined but it is completely opaque.  I got Large Petite and there is plenty of room for my curves, and the sleeves and hem are a perfect length for me.  The buttons are nicely spaced, when sitting I didn't have it gape open anywhere.  The pockets are deep enough that I was carrying my iPhone Max, face mask with chain, and two lip glosses in them before these photos were taken.

It doesn't show in my photos or the photos online, but the fabric of this dress has a bit of sheen every so often on it, reminiscent of jacquard.  That plus the print does give a bit of an early '80s vibe; I could see this as a bow blouse or the wallpaper in a kitchen with an avocado-colored oven.  But in this relaxed collarless shirtdress style it feels more boho and the hint of shine elevates it and actually keeps it from looking completely vintage.

anthropologie tamarind caftan


Dress: Anthropologie (large Petite) | Earrings: Jenny Bird | Ring: c/o REALM | Shoes: Bella Vita (similar concept)

As for the rest of my Anthro order, I also got this top (really pretty and fits nicely on top but the blouse is longer than it appears with a curved hem) and these pants (really hideous and since I wanted to wear the two together back they both went) and this caftan.  The caftan is what sent me to Anthro in the first place, admiring it in a sale email they sent my way. The caftan comes in four different prints, and in regular, petite, and plus sizes; I liked the orange motif best.  Even though it's essentially the same fabric content as the shirtdress, this caftan feels heavy and is even heavier with a cotton lining.  Due to my bust, the dress ended up with a high-low hem.  The tiers keep it from looking like a tent but also add weight, bulk, and prevent the dress from catching breezes.  While the shirtdress made me feel luscious with my curves, this dress made my curves feel like a problem.

wardrobe oxygen anthropologie

I often state, “it's not you, it's the clothes” and this tale of two caftans (okay once isn't a caftan but it just sounded so catchy) is a perfect example of this.  Same body, shot on the same day (I changed in the car and moved about 20 feet to the different location).  Both dresses the same color story, both full-length with long sleeves, and the dresses are only $10 different in price, but each provides a completely different look, feel, and vibe.  And more important than all that, one made me feel fabulous and one made me feel frustrated.  I wonder if I didn't order the shirtdress if I would have liked the caftan better.  If I would have justified keeping it.  Oh well, what can you expect with this big chest?  Nothing fits it and hey, the print is pretty and it is comfy.  Well, it's not the fabric I really wanted but unless you're a size 6 finding a great fabric and a great print in a dress and not have it cost a kazillion dollars is a unicorn.  But the thing is… we don't need as many clothes as we justify buying and keeping.  We really don't.  And when we have to justify a purchase, be it for price, purpose, fabric, or fit, we're already admitting that we don't need it in our life.

vale maxi shirtdress anthropologie

As for this shirtdress, I enjoy it now with a messy ponytail and bare face.  I enjoy it with gold hoops and sandals.  And this fall I plan to enjoy it with my tall brown boots.  Like other maxi dresses I own, I've loved wearing such dresses into winter with a Thermaskin cami and pair of fleece tights underneath for warmth without bulk. I also may try it with my Universal Standard black Foundation turtleneck and black boots.

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  1. Surely we can come up with an updated name for this lovely dress # 1 Ms. Roper! I want to be this century’s Erma Bombeck!

  2. I adore everything about that shirtdress, and it looks so amazing on you! Personally, I am not a fan of caftans though I do admire them on others. I don’t find shirtdresses really work for me personally. . . but I bet that one would!

  3. I have the caftan and the hem is high/low which I also didn’t realize when I bought but it’s noticeable on the hanger and then I went and looked at the online pictures again and you can see that in the full length picture. Both dresses look fabulous on you! I love that the shirt-dress is more versatile though.

    1. You’re so right, it can be seen in the photos when I go back. I just think my bust made it more prominent and not in a high-low way but a big-bust imbalance way.

  4. Honey, I love the caftan on you. It looks much more relaxing and easy. Both look great , but I guess my vote is for the caftan! But you know how you felt in it. It took a great pic!

    1. I didn’t have any other photos because the lighting and my faces were so weird but after all the raves for the caftan I felt I didn’t show it well enough so I added another photo showing the side angle. I ended up deleting most of them, wasn’t going to even put in the post and now wish I kept them! LOL

  5. You look glorious in bold colors! The not-caftan is gorgeous on you and seems like a perfect surprisingly-four-season dress that should be cherished for its versatility.

    My budget would appreciate it if you could wear a pair of hideous earrings once in a while, please and thank you. When I saw Michelle O. with her exuberant hoops and her VOTE necklace at the DNC, I decided that I wanted and needed both. I found a reasonable and affordable necklace facsimile on Etsy, but I just made the mistake of wandering over to the Jenny Bird website and am now trying to justify yet another pair of hoops. It’s only Wednesday and the Chico’s blue necklace from earlier this week and the earrings from today want to live in my jewelry box. I hate it when the responsible part of my brain says “No. You don’t *need* it. You only *want* it,” and the fun part of my brain shrieks, “Ooh, pretty!!!!!!!!”

    1. LOL sorry! As for these hoops, they are NOT cheap but I’ve had them for I think two years? They haven’t chipped or tarnished, they’re not too heavy, and go with everything. Each time I think of getting new hoops I remember I have these. I highly recommend Baublebar for beautiful yet cheaper jewelry; no hoops like this but I have a lot of pieces there that are fantastic!

  6. I love shirt dresses, and early in the pandemic realized that I could wear them like many people wear caftans, especially once I take off the belt. (Maybe they are caftans for type A people?!). So I’m 100% with you in reclassifying your dress. This is why I love your blog: we have completely different shapes and styles, but you frequently express something that perfectly matches how I feel. And I’m forever in your debt for the smart wool inivisible mini socks and the EVA Birks.

  7. The dress looks … fine. But the caftan, at least in the photo you show, looks gorgeous. Perhaps it is the glimpse of leg, perhaps it is the pattern which is both more retro and more contemporary, perhaps it is the look of freedom. Maybe it looks worse from t he side but I love it and love it on you. Still, each to their own, I understand that we should all wear what we feel happy in.

    1. Funny, I was just about to post that I loved the caftan on, as well. But I also really don’t like shirtdresses and never ever wear them, so that’s probably coloring my response. It’s fascinating how subjective style is (and of course we’re just seeing one photo!).

    2. I realize I only shared one photo, when my disappointment came from all the other photos I didn’t share. So I updated with another photo, though even that didn’t share the true disappointment of this caftan because I deleted all the terrible ones, LOL!

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