Made in Houston

Summer Is Coming: Elle Milady's Wear-Everywhere Caftans

The latest collection of luxe Houston-made caftans is equally popular with beach bums and bridesmaids.

By Leah Rose May 2, 2016

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The clouds outside went from grey to glistening white and back again as Nancy and Suzanne Elmilady debuted the Elle Milady 2016 resort collection at Top Drawer Lingerie last weekend, turning the Uptown Park store into a sunny summer destination—despite the weather—with a rack of unbelievably divine caftans, rompers and gowns. Designed in neon patterns, paisleys and solids as well as neutral shades of grey, the collection's powerful prints and delicate drapery had customers captivated, as did the accompanying sangria. 

“We have shades for the woman that prefers to wear black and grey, like me,” said Nancy Milady, “but we also want to offer a line that, when she wants to branch out, this is where she can do it.” 

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Image: Leah Rose

Accented by drawstrings at the waist, hand-beaded necklines and slits revealing a coordinating lining pattern underneath, the traditional ankle-length caftans were the obvious fan favorites, but the Elle Milady collection also impressed with hooded versions, high-low hems, short caftans edged with pom-poms (yes, pom-poms), and sheer jumpers, each coming in a variety of prints and solid hues. Every piece is fun and flirty in its own right, with an element of gauzy sex appeal.

I selected a trio of pieces to try: a high-low hem caftan, a jumper and a hooded caftan (which was from the 2016 spring line that’s sold at Top Drawer; the other two were from Resort 2016). I’d thought I’d only feel comfortable in a full-length caftan, but I was curious. Each option converted me. The romper ended up my favorite, but only just. It’s muted blue, purple and green patterned sheer chiffon draped over my body loosely without exposing me. Adjustable straps attached to a drawstring meant the material could be raised for more coverage in the back and front or lowered to expose a bit of cleavage.

The hooded silk gown hung differently depending on how I wore the hood. If it was up, the deep v-neck seemed to reach for my navel, perfect for showing off a bathing suit underneath while maintaining a regal air. But when the hood was left draped behind me, falling nearly to my waist, the neckline offered modest cleavage.

The loosely cut chiffon high-low caftan was the biggest surprise. I snuggled into the dress, which unbeknownst to me had a fitted slip underneath, leaving me feeling comfortable while the caftan outwardly flowed untamed around me.

Suzanne and Nancy told me the Elle Milady caftans are popular bridesmaids dresses, and that most of the pieces are versatile, from easy-going daily wear, to elegant outings. The sisters bring in their favorite textiles from around the world and tailor them for the Texas woman, using cuts that are designed to flatter any size (some, like the romper, are actually one-size-fits-all). 

It's not just that everything is handmade; the showroom inside Spring Street Studios is designed for customer convenience, despite the sisters' day jobs as attorneys. Need bridesmaids dresses in 4–6 weeks? Done. Need a custom dress in two days? You got it. Or those looking for a dose of summer can find Elle Milady caftans in Houston at Top Drawer Lingerie and Blue Leaf and the jewelry at Tootsies.

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The Elle Milady Resort 2016 collection at Top Drawer Lingerie.

Image: Leah Rose 

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