The Yelek is a short version of the Anteri. The word Yelek means a vest or waistcoat in modern Turkish, and that approximates the role of the Yelek in an Ottoman woman’s wardrobe. It can be worn alone over a Gömlek and in the hot summertime. Or it can be worn under an Anteri for warmth or fashion. It can also be worn over the Anteri, but in that position the same garment is called a Hırka or Cepken. Cepken means “cloak” in modern Turkish and Hırka is the word for a cardigan. As shown in the illustration at left, the Yelek can be sleeveless. It can also have short sleeves as shown in the featured image of this piece. Or it can have super-long sleeves. Mine will have super-long sleeves so they show underneath my outer caftan and Anteri.
Again our featured image is from the wardrobe of Ayse Sultan, daughter of Murad III, who lived in the late 16th century. Her clothing is preserved in the Topkapi Palace. Her Yelek is nearly identical to her Anteri that we showed last week. Matter of fact, it’s made from the same colours of taffeta, but reversed. The outer material is orange and the facings are blue, both with the same silver gilt çintemani design.
For my yelek, I’m using some pink and gold brocade a friend gave me years ago that was too short to make a full robe. I’m lining it with the same green shot silk taffeta that I used for the caftan facings. I’m not facing it because it’s not going to be worn open. Of course the sleeves are going to be super long because they will be just about the only thing you see of the yelek when I wear it with the other robes. Have a look at the period illustration to the right. This is what my yelek sleeves will look like when worn with my anteri and caftan.
Yelek were often closed with the same passementari buttons and loops as we’ve seen on the extant entari (and you can see in Ayse Sultan’s yelek, above). But since my yelek will be worn under my entari, to reduce bulk, I’m closing it with small hooks and eyes.
For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of the finished yelek displayed on my dress form. You can kinda get the feel for the excessive length of the sleeves if you look closely. Read the blog next week for pictures of me in the whole shebang!
Putting it all together!
Get Reconstructing History’s best info on Ottoman Turkish clothing for yourself:
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.