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Flattering styles: How to wear a tunic

As we move through warmer seasons, it’s fun to transition to more airy and loose-fitting clothes after months of covering up in heavy fabrics from head to toe.

Tunics are a great style staple for women of any size, and they’re the perfect clothing item for embracing spring through fall. Is it a shirt? Is it a dress? Well, it’s a mix between the two, with a between-hip-and-knee length and flowing fit. 

Tunic tops come in tons of styles, fabrics, fits, colors and prints. You can’t go wrong by having one, or many, of these items in your closet. They’re often comfortable, flattering and appropriate for various settings, such as wearing to the office, looking casually chic on weekends or staying comfortable on a plane. If you’re interested in incorporating some tunic-style tops into your wardrobe, take a look at these guidelines for buying and wearing the style.

plus size model wearing a blue top with black capris.

Choose the right fit for your body

Tunics are known for being loose-fitting, and this breaks one of the fundamental style rules for plus-size women: wear fitted clothes to slim down. While it’s true that some tunics can cover your curves and make your body look shapeless or boxy, tunics with the right cut can be very flattering, no matter your body shape. Here’s a guide for finding the right tunic for your body type:

· Hourglass: Hourglass body shapes look great in many tunic styles, but it may be best to avoid tops with a lot of detailing, rouching or ruffling near the neckline, as they can make the upper body seem disproportionately large. To highlight a defined waistline, try belting the tunic around your middle.

· Triangle: Triangle or pear body shapes, on the other hand, look great in tops with details and fabrics that draw the eye to the upper body, since they create the illusion of an hourglass figure. Women with triangle body shapes should avoid tunics that cling to their hips or rear, since these options can draw attention to wider areas of the body. Learn: How to Dress a Triangle Body Shape

· Oval: For women with a rounded or apple body shapes, tunics with scoop or V necks can elongate the neck and make the body look taller. Consider tunics with empire or natural waists that can create more definition.· Inverted triangle: Women with broad shoulders and narrow hips can get away with wearing tunics that fit closely to the body, but should also look for ones with empire waists. The way empire-waisted tops cinch just under the bust line is very flattering and can create a more proportionate appearance.

Plus size model wearing a black top with distressed jeans.

Look for flattering hemlines

When looking for tunics, there are a few universal guidelines that all women should keep in mind. For one, it’s important to avoid tunics that hit right at the widest part of your hips, since the harsh line they create can highlight the area and make it look larger. To avoid this, look for tunics with asymmetrical or rounded hemlines – even if they fall to your hips, they’ll create a softer hip-to-leg transition and won’t add weight.

plus size model wearing a blue printed shirt with black capris.

How to wear your tunic tops

A jacket: You can easily incorporate this item into your ensemble when you wear a tunic. It’s the length of the jacket that really matters. To stay warm while you go out for a night on the town with your girlfriends, opt for a chain link leather jacket that hits right at your waist. Falling below the hips will accentuate the widest part of your bottom, but having the jacket hemline land a little higher will highlight your small middle. However, you can work the same logic by opting for a jacket that falls right at your knees. The longer length will keep you warmer, and the having it hit right where your leg naturally narrows will create a slimming style.

The right bottom: Most of the time, you will see tunics paired with jeans, shorts or leggings. Try to avoid pairing tunics with wide-leg jeans and baggy trousers. Because tunics add volume to the upper body, it’s best to balance them out with slim-cut pants or leggings. The appropriate bottom all depends on the weather and occasion at hand.

Are you headed to a day at the office? A tunic is comfortable, but it can also deliver a professional vibe with the right footwear and bottoms. Opt for black leggings (as long as your bottom is covered) that mimic dress pants, and pair the look with closed-toe pumps. The heel will get your outfit workplace ready and the added height will instantly slim your figure.

For a vacation to a warm and tropical locale, for example, you can wear tunics as beach cover-ups and then add a pair of shorts when you’re off the sand and grabbing a meal with your family.

If you’re getting a more formal meal, pants are a strong choice. Wear your tunic with a comfortable pair of stretch skinny jeans. The neutral denim will pair perfectly with any color tunic, and you’ll stay warm with the thicker layer on the bottom. However, you’ll want to opt for a pair of pants that cinches at your ankle, especially when your top has a flowing hemline. Too much volume in these areas can widen your bottom half, so let your tunic be the one to carry all that flowing detail.

Dress them up or down with shoes

As you can see, versatility makes tunics for women a wardrobe staple. With this item, you can go either casual or fancy with the change of just a few pieces. Do you want to look fashion-forward on a Saturday afternoon? Make your outfit both casual and chic with a pair of ankle boots. Your feet will stay toasty warm in a pair of genuine leather footwear all while you showcase a fun style. Or swap out sandals or flats for a pair of colorful wedges or comfortable heels to take your tunics from day to night.

Seasonal accessories: Add more intricate statement accessories to dress up a basic tunic or long tunic, or incorporate delicate fashion jewelry to make a louder top with a print really stand out. A knit hat keeps you warm, but it also adds some feminine flair to your look. Scarves are another great warm-accessory option to pair with tunics, and they can help enhance your figure. For example, the vertical lines of a long dangling scarf will elongate your shape. You can also wrap an infinity scarf around your neck to add volume to your top half and counterbalance a wider bottom.

Plus size model with a white long-sleeve blouse with jeans and a red beaded necklace.

Tunics: your blank slate!

While you don’t want to overcrowd a tunic outfit, they truly enable you to customize your look and show off fun fashion accessories. Think of tunics as something of a blank slate. Mix and match pieces to put together a truly unique outfit, complete with jewelry, and you’ll quickly have friends and family asking, “Where did you get that?” 

How do you like to wear your tunics? Tell us in the comments below.

Comments (3)

I also disagree about wearing the tunic with a skirt. A pencil skirt would look good. Also, the new shorter straight skirts and I really like the look with a fitted skort. I tie my tunic up on the side with a colorful hairband. Works great with the tunic tee shirts.

Igjet want it

I disagree with the comment shouldn’t be worn with skirts. Some tunics look excellent with a pencil skirt.

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