Istanbul on the Royal Progress: Overview

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Like my Byzantine costume, I don’t have a LOT of time for research, so I won’t be doing the same depth of research I’d do if I had more time and was doing a costume from a culture I was really committed to exploring long-term.

I started with Pinterest….

 Costume breakdown

“Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina”‘s “Ottoman Turkish Garb: An Overview of Women’s Clothing” from 2008 was an initial starting point. I used this to determine the various layers involved in the costume. She notes that the Ottoman period was very long, but the “golden age” was in the 16th Century. She doesn’t note if any of the garments are exclusive to any particular time-frame in the Ottoman period.

Some of the garment items she describes include:

Regular garments

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Gomlek: Lightweight, sheer undershirt with long and narrow sleeves and a round neck. Later period Gomleks have wide, long sleeves. Appears to be generally white cotton, silk, or linen. May have embroidery or tablet weaving along the seams and hem.

Hirka/Chirka: Very fitted thigh-length under-jacket, worn over the Gomlek. May have wide, elbow-length sleeves, long, wrist-length sleeves, or may be sleeveless.

Shalwar: Very soft and lightweight ankle-length pants. Wide at the thighs, narrowing at the ankle. Could be white, or patterned cotton or silk.

I think the Gomlek would be useful, however I think I could likely wear one of my other linen underdresses for this if need be. The pattern shown above shows a cut with more room at the hips, though I think I’d save this for one of the more visible layers.

The Hirka and Shalwar on the other hand seem pretty important to the overall look of the outfit, so those would be higher priorities to make.


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Tarpus: tall pointed or pillbox hat

Yasmak: two-piece veil tied over the hat and around the lower face. Worn when outside of the home, and made of linen, cotton, or silk.

Of course I want to make another ridiculous hat! The veil wouldn’t be quite so interesting to me, though I think I have some white sheer silk kicking around.


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Kaftan / Caftan: Loose outer coat with wide sleeves. Made of velvets and silks, often lined with fur. Worn for ceremonial occasions.

Ferace: Dark, loose, wool overcoat, sometimes lined with fur. Worn outside during cold weather.

Entari: Medium-weight A or bell-shaped coat. Fitted to the waist and shaped with side gores with an overlapping front gore. Usually floor-length. Round or v-neck. Closed down the front with small buttons and loops or long frogs. Often depicted unbuttoned from neckline to chest and waist to floor. Most often with wide, elbow-length sleeves, though also shown narrow and wrist-length. Occasionally extremely long maunche-like sleeves with slits. Most often made of silk, lined in cotton. Rarely trimmed, but the inside edge was often faced with silk. She notes that the neckline going under the bust is 18th-19th century, and not period for the time frame I’m looking at.

Yelek: Slightly fitted, crotch-length coat with elbow or wrist-length sleeves. Made of silk and lined with cotton. Worn over the Entari during cold weather.

It seems that two of the four items are for cold weather – which I won’t have to worry about in June I hope! The third is for ceremonial wear which means it MIGHT be something I’ll add to my optional list for court, but wouldn’t be a high priority. On other hand, the Entari seems like a high priority. I am not sure of the style I’d prefer though.

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Kusak: A soft, wide sash or girdle worn over the Entari.

Uckar: Leather or metal belt, decorated with gold, silver, or ivory plaques, semi-precious stones and beads.

Socks: Socks appear to be knitted.

Shoes: Indoor shoes appear to be soft yellow leather, embroidered brocade slippers. Outdoor footwear seem to be soft boots, with Nalins worn to the public baths.

Jewellery: Small pendant earrings, pearl or bead chokers, and finger rings.

Since I’ll try to make the Entari, making the Kusak is high on the list of things to make. If I do, I won’t worry about the belt, or I’ll do the belt instead. I suspect I could use my Byzantine belt for this? I won’t worry about socks or shoes, and will try to find jewellery or make something suitable.

Fabrics & Colours

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“Baroness Katja”‘s notes identify that the main fabric used in clothing was silk, woven in rich motifs with silver and gold thread. Woven motifs included floral patterns, trees, stars, crescents, geometric designs and fruits. Since I don’t imagine I’ll be able to find silk fabric with gold or silver woven motifs, I’ll likely opt to use block printing to mimic this instead. This appears to be a period method as well though; she writes that gold stamped designs are also seen. She notes that velvets were also common in Turkish Ottoman clothing.

She cautions against using a lot of stripes; noting that “few period miniatures depict striped patterns; those that do exist appear to be mostly of military scenes or middle or lower-class people.” She adds that stripes seem more common in 18-19th century artwork. (Likewise she advises to avoid paisley since that’s post-period too.)

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Lightweight silk was used for linings and/or facings, but Katja notes that they “never matched or coordinated with the outer fabric”. Cotton was specifically used to line coats. Wool, linen, and cotton was also used for the outer fabric of garments, but more commonly for uniforms, undergarments, or outer garments than silk.

Katja writes that dominant colours were bright, and that red, cobalt blue, lime green, and brilliant yellow were common.

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