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How to Wear a Tunic in the Summer

If you need a summer top that provides a little extra coverage, but is it still lightweight enough to wear in the heat, a tunic may be just the thing.

Tunics have long been considered a wardrobe classic, but many women avoid them because they have a reputation for sometimes looking matronly. 

However, the right one, paired with modern basics, and updated accessories, can look incredibly sophisticated. 

Luckily, now that  Lilly Pulitzer and Tory Burch, brands famous for their love of tunics, are seeing a rise in their “younger” demographic, more mainstream stores are offering their own versions.

Which is great because I get requests all the time for recommendations on what to wear if you prefer to have your arms covered, or if you’re inside the air conditioning and want to keep the chill off.

Now that the category is trickling down into bigger brands and stores, there are more stylish and affordable options than ever. 

So let’s break down a simple formula for how to wear a tunic. 

How to Wear a Tunic in the Summer 

How to Wear a Tunic

Tunic, $25  |  Pants, $35  |  Sandals, $198  |  Hoops, $38  |  Sunglasses, $60  |  Clutch, $48 

Outfit Break Down

First, let’s talk about this cotton blend tunic, by Old Navy. It’s currently on sale for an additional 35% off, making it only $16. At the time of publishing all sizes are available in regular and petite up to size XXL. 

You want a tunic to have a slim fit to avoid it looking oversized. It shouldn’t cling, but rather hang just slightly off the body. Here, you can see the combination of the v neck line and subtle vertical tonal stripe is going to help create a long, slim line to the body. 

I love how the soft blue pairs with crisp white jeans. 

It’s important that you pair this with a straight or skinny bottom to balance the proportions. Here, I used a reader favorite by Wit & Wisdom (on sale for $30 in limited sizes). But you can wear any white bottom in your closet with a slim, tailored fit. 

Then, I think a tunic requires a dramatic earring, so you can really lean into the “lady-that-yachts” vibe it gives. These double hoop earrings from Baublebar are perfect, and under $40. 

Finally, finish the look with accessories we regularly feature, like these investment Tory sandals, simple tortoise sunglasses, and this leopard clutch from Tuckernuck that adds pattern and texture to any outfit, year-round.

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Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

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How to Wear a Tunic in the Summer

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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Thursday 9th of July 2020

I love the crispness of the blue with the white! I'm new to your site and LOVING it! I do have a few fashion issues. I have foot issues and wear a thin insert in the bottom of my shoe.... could you recommend a pair of loafers and a pair of simple shoes like Keds that are deep enough in the heel to accommodate them? Also a post on caring for your nicer clothes..... again love this site!! Your practical about what women wear around the house everyday!


Thursday 9th of July 2020

What size do you buy in the Old Navy tunic? You and I seem to be built the same...I usually wear a medium but appreciate when you say to size up!