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Here’s To You, Mrs. Roper

The dress that made a nosy middle-aged neighbor the epitome of chic returns. Long live the caftan

I first met my own Mrs. Roper, the meddler from the 1970s and ’80s sitcom Three’s Company, in the form of a seventy-something neighbor named Dolores. We chatted through the fence between our yards. She was wearing a turban, horn-rimmed, rose-tinted glasses, and the most amazing rainbow-striped caftan I had ever seen. As she puffed on her Virginia Slims, I realized the power of a caftan. I thought of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and of Tuesday Weld as Joan Didion in Play It as It Lays. What other garment so wholly embodies L.A.’s ability to turn something comfy into a fashion statement? The fabric alone determines whether a caftan can be worn to the pool or to a premiere. This spring dressier versions hit the catwalks. Looks varied from Grecian goddess (at Farah Angsana) to geisha girl (Issa) to cosmic high priestess (Naeem Khan). No matter the style, take a cue from my neighbor when accessorizing.

How To Wear It

Pairing a caftan with these accessories completes the look

Gladiator sandal: As far as footwear goes, a strappy sandal is the best option for a casual effect. Saint Laurent studded silver sandals, $1,595 at polyvore.com

Turban headband: A full turban may be a little too Norma Desmond, but the turban headband offers a more contemporary take. Eugenia Kim headband, $99 at shopbop.com

Chunky necklace: Helen Roper was quite fond of wearing an oversize costume necklace with her caftan; you can pay subtle homage with a square-beaded one. Kate Spade necklace, $148 at katespade.com