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How to wear a caftan this fall, according to an expert

Whether you dress it up or rock it as loungewear, it's the perfect no-fuss garment.
Split images of three different Women outside wearing stylish caftans
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/ Source: TODAY

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One of the year's breakout television shows has been HBO's "The White Lotus," which follows the exploits of resort employees and guests during a Hawaiian vacation. But as popular as the series itself is the fashion: with many of the show's female stars dazzling viewers in a collection of colorful caftans, perfect for a tropical holiday.

Shop TODAY chatted with the series' costume designer, Alex Bovaird, about how women can take the show's captivating resortwear style from their TV screen to real life.

What is a caftan?

"Technically, a caftan is [a dress] that goes on over the head," Bovaird explained. "It's a pullover, but if you're dipping your toe into the caftan waters, you may also want to try a kimono-style caftan that ties in the front and has flowy sleeves."

Bovaird says kimonos are particularly great for any body type because they can be tied around the bust or waist or left open as a top layer worn with shorts or jeans.

Bovaird says caftans can come in different lengths as well as long- and short-sleeve and sleeveless styles. They're also available in a variety of fabrics, from solids to prints to sparkles, making them easy to pair with any social situation.

How to style a caftan, according to an expert

Bovaird's biggest tip for pulling off a caftan is confidence.

"You have to feel like you're pulling it off," she said, "because you can't ever go out and not be sure about what you're wearing. You can't feel uncomfortable."

Once you've found a caftan you feel beautiful in, Bovaird says to think about what you'll wear under the garment.

"On "The White Lotus," we always would start with what's underneath," she said. "You have to have the right undergarments and feel secure. For example, I wear short caftans and I work really hard and am on my feet all day, often bending over, so I wear bike shorts underneath mine. Get a silky slip or slip shorts that make everything feel tucked in and make you feel like you can move freely in your flowy caftan."

Despite its easy, breezy appearance, caftans can also be worn during cooler months! If you're working from home or treating yourself to a self-care day, wearing one like a tunic and pairing it with your favorite pair of leggings is a no-brainer. Heading outside? Layer it with a light turtleneck, thermal leggings and longer-length coat.

When it comes to accessories, Bovaird says it's all about matching your extra flair to your caftan of choice.

"If you have a lot of print going on, you might want to go a little softer with the accessories," she said. "On "The White Lotus," we kind of went for it with the jewelry to lean into that luxury feeling, but you probably don't want a necklace if you’ve got a lot of print going on, but maybe you do want big earrings."

Caftans can also be belted if you're looking for more definition in your waist. And, your shoes should match the occasion you're dressing up for.

"If you're going [on a vacation to] the beach, wear sandals," said Bovaird. "If you're running around town, try a wedge. If you're going out, I would do high heels because they give you a lift, give your legs a nice shape and take things to the next level."

For those looking to "go a little bolder" in the real world, Bovaird says it's most important to have fun.

"When you wear something that glamorous, it harkens back to the Gatsby era," said Bovaird. "I just think women, especially when they're going out, should feel like they can step it up in terms of elegance and opulence."

Best caftans, according to shoppers

The Cinched Waist Caftan Dress

Floral and beautiful, this long-sleeved caftan from Summersalt has a tie waist and is made from breathable and wrinkle-resistant fabric. We love the variety of floral patterns, from soft green and white blooms to vibrant pink and violet blossoms.

RanRui Caftan

This Amazon caftan dress has slits along each side to allow for easy movement and is made of comfortable rayon. It's also available in a variety of bohemian patterns and solid colors!

H&M Crinkled Kaftan Dress

This V-neck caftan features voluminous cuffed raglan sleeves and woven crinkled cotton fabric. Its calf length makes it perfect for pairing with leggings or thermal tights.

Mer-Sea Patio Dress

A sleeveless caftan, this strappy dress is perfect for wearing for a casual night at home or for date night. Available in brick or black shades, this solid print caftan even has pockets.

PAX PHILOMENA Swansong Maxi Caftan Dress

This maxi-length cotton caftan is one size fits all and has an adjustable tie waist to give definition to your midsection. Its gorgeous blue borders paired with the Indian floral print, making it an interesting piece worthy of any wardrobe.

Anthropologie Ocean Beaded Caftan

This stunning Anthropologie caftan is giving us major Grecian vibes with its blue accents and beaded and embellished neckline.

Intention Caftan Tunic Dress/Top

Whether you go with green, white or black, this stunning caftan from Intention is perfect for wearing as a dress or tunic-style top. Paired with your favorite earrings and a pair of high heels, this dress is sure to make a statement.

Everlane The Caftan Dress

A classic caftan, this relaxed fit dress from Everlane is made from organic cotton and comes in both black and sequoia red. We love the lightweight fabric and simple checkered pattern of this button-front caftan.

Marie Cinched Caftan

Vibrant red combines with black and white in this long caftan dress, which would look perfect with trendy accessories like a felt fedora and oversized shades.

PAX PHILOMENA Nirvana Short Caftan

Achieve a moment of fashion zen in this Pax Philomena caftan. Perfect to wear over skinny jeans, we love the vibrant blues and persimmon shades in this caftan, which has small peacocks within its fabric.

Shibori Caftan

This hand-dyed caftan is made of cotton and adorned with beautiful indigo blue patterns. Its short length makes it perfect for everything from a vacation-worthy beach coverup to a cute date night dress paired with tights, a chic peacoat and strappy heels.

H&M Tie-Belt Kaftan

This tie-front wrap dress has short, kimono-style sleeves and a charming wide front tie. H&M shoppers also adore how comfortable it is "without sacrificing aesthetics."

PAX PHILOMENA Aquarello Midi Kaftan Dress

The vibrant print on this mid-length caftan is block printed by hand onto white fabric, that is then dyed light blue. The unique printing process leaves each fanned design with a crackled appearance, making each dress completely unique.

Mer-Sea Riad Long Caftan

This stunning earth-toned caftan is made from lightweight organic cotton and has an interior tie to perfectly accentuate the waistline. It's also made in India and patterned with a hand-designed and colorful print.

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