Why This “Matronly” Staple Is Actually Cool Again (& How To Wear It)

Is it a top? Is it a dress? What IS this thing, and how on Earth do I wear it? Yes, tunics are tricky. Some may believe they're just another trend that only works if you're seven feet tall, while others might think of a tunic as "matronly" or "mumsy" or just plain unflattering. But, actually, the opposite can be true. Similar to culottes, the tunic is quickly becoming a fashion-forward staple. In fact, a few of us here at R29 might argue that a tunic over cropped pants is the outfit for fall — and that's just one way to wear one. In the morning, instead of throwing on a T-shirt or your typical button-up blouse, slip into a tunic — it takes the same amount of minimal effort and looks exponentially more chic. But it doesn't stop there: We put together four easy tunic looks to convince you that this style is indeed worth testing out. Read on to get all the inspiration you need to try this tricky but totally worth it piece for yourself.
Behold, the aforementioned outfit of the fall season. A plain black tunic with a D-ring belt and side slits is a versatile piece for the coming months — sport it on its own now, and later, wear it over a turtleneck or sweater. Wear this piece with a cropped pair of printed trousers and a crisp white ankle boot. Then add some color with a blue suede handbag, and play off the silver hardware of the tunic with a simple silver cuff.
Your favorite pair of culottes also looks cool coupled with a tunic — this time, we're opting for a silky, button-up variation. Think of this ensemble as dressed-up pajamas, accented with an interesting pair of zipper loafers and simple silver earrings. A bold belt-bag works to break up the slightly monochromatic look, which plays with proportions but is a guaranteed chic ensemble.
Tunics aren’t always sleeveless or short-sleeved — you should also consider investing in a simple turtleneck version for fall. It’s cozy yet polished and believe it or not, it looks great over a longer skirt, whether knee-length, midi, or maxi. Opt for a playful print that can peek out of the bottom of the tunic. For work, you can pair this with a contemporary mule, a classic box bag, and some simple jewels for a comfortable yet professional outfit.
Perhaps the easiest way to wear a tunic is over a pair of jeans — though they can't be just any pair of jeans. With a boxier, more shapeless tunic, opt for denim that’s ultra-flattering, like this cropped fit-and-flare pair with raw hem detailing. Match your shoes to your top with a funky snakeskin shoe, grab a fringe crossbody, and finish things off with an on-trend choker.

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