Expert opinions sought on Turkish/Ottoman women's clothing of 1922 by former academic turned fiction writer

Louisa Cameron's picture

I was referred to your group by one of your colleagues. Thanks so much for admitting me! I have been reading about and viewing historic photographs of Turkish/Ottoman women's clothing in the early 20th century for a historical young adult fiction manuscript I am revising for an interested publisher.

The Turkish family in my novel consists of wealthy, Muslim, ethnically Turkish Ottomans who support the Young Turks' modernization agenda and live in the European Quarter of Smyrna/Izmir in 1922. The father has an export business and works with French business partners. The mother of the family and her sixteen-year-old daughter wear Western-style clothing, with the mother also wearing a short (ie not to the floor) çarşaf, which is about the size of a hijab today. The mother wears this contextually. For instance, when she attends a Western style ball with her husband, which is attended by mostly non-Turks, she does not wear her çarşaf.

The daughter wears Western clothing, as she attends an American girls' high school and lives in a non-Turkish area of the city, although she does wear a çarşaf when she visits the Turkish Quarter. 

Any advice on what my female characters should be wearing would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you very much for considering my questions. If you wish to know more about me and/or my as of now unpublished novel, you can find me online at To respond to my questions, you can of course respond on this discussion post, or you can email me privately through my website's form. Thank you again!

Louisa (Panayiota Cameron)

Dear H-Turk community,
I have received wonderfully helpful replies to my questions in this post via email, and I have also received many visitors to my web page (I usually don't!).
Thank you so much for your kindness and interest!

Hi Louisa,

You might want to watch my 30 minute documentary on Halide Edib, an early 20th century Turkish writer and activist. Part of telling her life story entails her changing choice of clothes throughout her eventful life, which included fighting for independence alongside Ataturk. The film is now available for free on YouTube.

Sharon Wood