A tunic is a loose fitting top that typically hits below the hips. But, like every style, there are many variations on the traditional silhouette. Some women’s tunics are long sleeved, and hang straight or may feature some draping or flare, while others are sleeveless and fitted. There are even tunics that are long enough to qualify as dresses. The tunic is great for all seasons—look for lightweight fabrics in warmer weather, and sweater tunics for when it’s cold out.
Like many of our favorite styles, we have to look all the way back to ancient Egypt to see the original. In its earliest form, the tunic was simply a rectangular piece of fabric, doubled over with a hole for the head. It would have been secured with ties around the waist. Tunics were also worn in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. In fact, the English word ‘tunic’ was derived from the Latin ‘tunica.’ Men, women and children sported the look, and the garment’s pattern and color was used to denote social status. Of course, we can’t look at the tunic’s history without considering the middle ages—the tunic was what was hot for medieval knights, and even their ladies.
Most women’s tunics have a relatively forgiving fit and hang well below the waist, so it’s best to avoid baggier skirts or trousers on the bottom so that you don’t get swallowed up by your outfit. Try pairing a tunic with leggings or skinny jeans. If your tunic is long enough, you can wear it as a dress with tights. In either case, booties or wedges are a nice way to add some leg, balancing the length of the shirt.
Tunic shirts typically fall into casual wear. The more traditional garment is collarless and knit from soft natural fibers, making it perfect for a brunch date or stroll on the beach. A long and loose tunic top is a must-have for vacation, as it does triple duty as a shirt, a dress, and a swim cover-up. But the look isn’t just for boat drinks. Tunics have been adapted for professional wear by shortening the length, modifying the collar, and changing to a dressier fabric. So, while the basic silhouette is maintained, the style is more appropriate for the office. In this scenario, pair a silky tunic top with slim trousers and pumps.