A History Of Fashion In The Ottoman Empire

Formal wear of the Ottomans
Formal wear of the Ottomans | Wikimedia Commons
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Given the ardency of cultural development and growth during the Ottoman Empire’s heyday, it’s no surprise that certain elements of its history continue to inspire Turkish artists, chefs, and designers to this day. We take a look at the history of Ottoman clothing – from the sultan’s garments to the clothing worn by women of the court – for a small glimpse of those imperious days.
During the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire reached a peak of economic and political power. As such, the textile industry also witnessed a boom, with weaving techniques and the quality of fabrics at their pinnacle. Of course, the sultans would have nothing less than luxurious kaftans composed of the most expensive fabrics, with gold- or silver-plated threads. In order to supply the substantial demand, special workshops designed court apparel and furnishings, sometimes even placing orders to other workshops in Istanbul and Bursa in order to meet the high demand.

Loved by over 40s

The stunning sultan kaftans (worn with şalvar, loose trousers) were made of fabrics such as brocade, velvet, satin and silk lampas, taffeta, mohair, and cashmere. International influence also played a major role, with various cloths ordered from renowned Italian weaving centers in Venice, Genoa, and Florence, as well as the diplomatic gifts from textile-rich countries such as Iran, India and China. One of most famous designs from this era was the Chintamani motif, which was composed of a wavy line with three circles. Other motifs such as flowers, branches with leaves, the sun, moon, stars, and the endless knot were also common. The sultan’s headgear was also a very important element of Ottoman fashion, beginning with the horasani (a woolen conical hat) and evolving to the mücevveze (a cylindrical hat wrapped in fine muslin).

A Lady from the Ottoman Court/Wikimedia Commons

As for the women belonging to the sultan’s family, a kaşbastı (a diadem embellished with a stone at the center) was worn on the head to indicate their rank. In the 17th century the head ornaments of women evolved, becoming increasingly ostentatious, with carefully selected set jewels. In the 16th century, a fez with a thin white scarf which covered the whole head and shoulders was also used. Women in the court wore an inner robe called an iç entari with an elaborate belt called the cevberi. These belts also became quite decorative, with attached jeweled daggers or embroidered key purses. As an outer layer, women also wore kaftans, which were lined with fur in the winter months, while all garments were made from the era’s prevalent textiles, such as brocade, silk and velvet.

During the reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730), significant changes began to occur in clothing as Western influence took its hold. As women began to enter the recreational public sphere, their aesthetic also changed with the ferace (a plain outdoors overcoat) becoming more colorful and embellished with gilded trimmings and ribbons. Headgear with crests and covered by a thin white veil were worn by women, who also carried silk parasols with jeweled hand grips. A movement toward Westernization in dress during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II in the 17th century caused the Westernization of military apparel, as Ottoman sultans began to dress like Western commanders in darkly colored suits with embroidered borders, plus a fez. By the 1850s, women’s interest in European goods increased and orders were placed resulting in an import of fashion that changed the Ottoman style drastically.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.