InStyle’s special projects editor Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20-plus years. Needless to say, she’s picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles.
What do the ancient Romans and Greeks have in common with Tory Burch? They all realized that a tunic is one of the most versatile garments a woman can wear. Tory has made it a signature of her collection and you should make it a staple of your wardrobe.
Here's a few easy parameters: I am defining “tunic” as a long, loose-fitting shirt or sweater with sleeves that covers your hips. When searching for tunics to buy online, I noticed that many e-commerce sites label similar garments as mini-dresses. Don’t let that wording deter you. You can wear the short dress as a top over narrow pants or even a pencil skirt.
The main reason I gravitate towards tunics is comfort. The loose fit allows you to move freely and stay cool (a big issue for women in their 40s and 50s, needless to say!) I wore an ivory silk one from Alexander Wang with cropped black pants on Christmas when I was running around cooking and serving dinner for 10. With the addition of a favorite multi-strand necklace and tuxedo flats, I felt festive and ready for action.
Tunics can easily be dressed up or down, depending on the fabric and what you pair them with. In the winter, I prefer silk and cashmere ones, which work just as well with skinny jeans in the daytime as with satin pajama pants for entertaining or dinners out. Many cotton tunics can be worn year-round too, as long as they don’t have a beach-y vibe. A pleat-front tuxedo style is particularly versatile.
Last, but not least, tunic tops are incredibly forgiving for a variety of body types—and after all the holiday celebrations, that’s a real gift. Whether you have a tummy, wide hips, a flat butt, a large chest, upper arm issues (or no figure issues at all!), this shape is very flattering and easy to wear. The key is to balance the volume by wearing it with a slim bottom. It’s much, much harder to pull off this proportion with a wide trouser or a full skirt.
So, go ahead and enjoy. A wedge of Brie or a couple of mini crab cakes won’t kill you! Rest assured, your new “best friend,” the tunic, has you covered until next summer. And, then, there’s always your “next best friend,” the linen caftan!
Shop it: Tory Burch (at top), $295, toryburch.com; Joseph, $545, net-a-porter.com; Protagonist, $380, theline.com; By Malene Birger, $375, hampdenclothing.com; Tanya Taylor, $765, modaoperandi.com; Vince, $265, vince.com; Victoria Victoria Beckham, $980, farfetch.com