Here a tunic is any long top that is worn over long pants or jeans. A dress can function as a tunic when it’s worn as a top. I have three dresses that function as tunics when I pop them over cropped straight or cropped flared jeans. Here they are with the jeans I’ve worn underneath them.

It might seem odd to wear pants under a dress to create the effect of a tunic, but if you run cold like I do, it creates an effective form of insulation. This works especially well in air conditioning, mild Summers, and warm Springs. I adore the drama of the silhouette. It conveys a sense of relaxed elegance that is practical and chic.

In these outfit examples all of the tunics are fairly covered, most of the bottoms are cropped, and none of the bottoms are leggings. The “long over lean” silhouette is at play.

1. Playfully Maximal

A playfully bright tunic is paired with trendy relaxed straight cropped jeans. The look is finished off with strappy sandals and a bag in a second pattern. I would have preferred a more casual sandal, like an espadrille or classic wedge in a light or bright colour, but it’s a lovely outfit nonetheless. I LOVE the dramatic length of the tunic. I bet those high side swooshing slits are magic in motion.

Anthropologie Fortaleza Ruffled Tunic

2. Neutrally Graphic

A much shorter neutral, graphic and dressy satin tunic is paired with skinny jeans and strappy ‘90s throwback thong sandals. The easy volume of the shiny oversized shirt creates a fun juxtaposition with the casual jeans. A pair of black cigarette or Ponte pants could work well too.

Munthe Emotional Tunic

3. Casually Boho

Wearing mismatched patterns that are essentially the same on the top and bottom grabbed my attention. Tie-dye squared! A top with draped volume in a soft dressy fabric creates an elegant ease that is comfortable and breezy. The closed-toe wrapped flats are an unexpected touch. I can see metallic sandals that echo the arm candy work well too.

Anthropologie Sybille Tie-Dyed Silk Buttondown

4. Architectural Dressy

This is the dressiest rendition of the four and could pass for cocktail wear because the fabrics and footwear are formal. An architectural and asymmetrical tunic worn over high-contrast bottoms is visually punchy because the contrast accentuates the drama of the hemline. I like that the pants are soft and tailored, and not hard and tight. The shoes pick up the palette perfectly. Add jewellery, watch, eyewear and bag as desired.

Wingate Werax Blouse