The clothing of Ottoman Turkey is fairly unique in that it’s modular. Usually in historical costuming, we complain about the people who won’t wear their sleeves because “it’s too hot” or cover their heads because “I hate hats” or wear a neck covering because “I can’t stand anything touching my throat”. But in Ottoman Turkey, women absolutely could wear fewer layers (and even no sleeves!) if the situation presented itself. Wearing a sleeveless yelek alone over your gömlek and shalvar is perfectly acceptable. Or piling on layer upon layer. Or lounging about with your anteri mostly unbuttoned.
Of course going out in public without the all-enveloping feraçe and two piece veil (yashmak) wasn’t done. You could wear anything you wanted at home. But outside, you’d have to cover up, head to toe.
Let’s run down the whole ensemble, shall we?
My gömlek is made from white linen, self-striped, with the panels held together by gold thread in a blanket stitch. You can read about its construction here.
My yelek is made from pink and gold silk brocade, lined with green shot silk taffeta. Here is its story. The sleeves are extra long and pushed up on the arm to create the effect seen in many Ottoman prints. The yelek is closed with small hooks and eyes.
My anteri is made from yellow and gold silk brocade, lined with blue silk taffeta shot with red, and faced with fuschia silk taffeta. Read about the anteri here. The neckline, sleeve ends, front opening, hem, and side vents are faced. The neckline is bound with yellow taffeta cut on the bias and the front is closed with found buttons of a Turkish design and a three-strand finger loop braid made from Spendor silk floss and sew to the join with the left overlap.
My outer caftan is made from red and gold silk brocade lined with yellow silk taffeta and faced with green silk taffeta. The story of the caftan construction is here. Quilting is here. The interior is padded with an olive-coloured wool crepe and the entire garment quilted vertically at intervals of approximately 2″. The sleeve ends, front opening, hem, and side vents are faced. The front is closed with five-strand finger loop braids of red and yellow Spendor silk floss. The braids are tied into Chinese button knots (thanks to YouTube channel WhyKnot for the instruction) on the right and sewn into loops on the left. All fasteners are functional. I did not finish the pockets but I may put them in later.
Linen shalvar, silk hip sash, terpush, and cepken are from other outfits. The shoes are Indian jooti from Step n Style. Brocades came from B.R. Exports. Taffeta came from Bangkok Thai Silks. Thread is Gütermann silk thread S303 in 100 meter spools. Needles are John James size 10 betweens. I think that’s everything…
Here’s a photo of me wearing the finished ensemble.
Here’s a video of all the detail bits.
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- cutting and sewing and finishing = 45 hours
- quilting = 39 hours
- making braids and knots and attaching = 10 hours
- cutting and sewing and finishing = 43.5 hours
- making button loops and attaching = 2.5 hours
- cutting and sewing = 14.5 hours
- finishing work = 3 hours
Get all the info on putting it all together for yourself with our Getting Dressed Guide:
Make your own outfit with Reconstructing History’s Ottoman Turkish clothing patterns:
For Men too:
And, Metin. Istanbul in the 16th century. 1994: Akbank Culture and Art Department, Istanbul.
Arnold, Janet. “The Pattern of a Caftan, said to have been worn by Selim II (1512-20), from the Topkapi Sarayi Museum (Accession Number 2/4415), on display at the exhibition of Turkish art of the Seljuk and Ottoman periods, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, November 1967.” Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. 1968, No. 2.
Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of linen shirts, etc. 2008: Macmillan, London.
Scarce, Jennifer. Women’s Costume of the Near and Middle East. Unwin Hyman, London, 1987.
Sevgi Gurtuna. Osmanli Kadan Giyisi. Kültür Bakanligi , Ankara, 1999.
© 2017 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice, the author’s name and website, and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.