T is for Tunic, and Totally Awesome!

Tunics: God’s Gift to Apple Shaped Women

I’ve said it in my general principles for tops, I’ve said it when discussing dresses, and I’ve even shared my favorite go-to solid tunic with you in the past: Tunics are totally awesome.

With very few exceptions, they are among the best and most flattering tops that apple shaped women can wear.

And if you do nothing but wear more tunics after reading these fashion tips for apple-shaped women, I will consider that a victory. 🙂

Even though I know this stuff inside and out, I still sometimes google “how to dress an apple body shape” just to see what new ideas I can find.  

Today we’re gonna dive in and look at all the ins and outs of tunics, and why I would make such a bold claim. We will review:

  • all the different styles of tunics,
  • what styles of tunics apples should choose, and
  • how to best wear tunics.
  • Some extra tips for plus size tunics

Like these jubilant graduates, you will be an expert in Tunicology by the time you finish this article.

What Is A Tunic?

We’re on the internet! So let’s ask the dictionary.

1. a gownlike outer garment, with or without sleeves and sometimes belted, worn by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
2. a woman’s upper garment, either loose or close-fitting and extending over the skirt to the hips or below

So, a tunic is a garment that is loose fitting, and either a shirt or dress. And also something worn by the sylin’ Greeks and Romans. Keep that in mind for your next sexy Halloween outfit!!

As always, if you like any of these specific tunic recommendations, please click on the pictures to learn more!

Everything I feature on my blog is appropriate for apple shapes, and, as a budget shopper, I cherry pick all the good deals.

Different Styles of Tunics

Tunic Shirts

Tunic shirts must be worn with jeanspants, or a skirt, or leggings. They are too short to be worn as dresses.

Tunic Dresses

Tunic dresses are exactly that – something that can be worn alone, as a dress, and you can show off your legs!

Tunics somewhere IN BETWEEN shirt and dress

This is self-explanatory. A super short dress or a super long shirt.

Use your best judgment on these. I tend to err on the side of caution, but some people can rock the VERY short skirts here, or wear only with tights (vs heavier leggings or other styles of pants).

You will also see these called “T-shirt dresses”.

V-Neck Tunics

Any tunic, shirt or dress, with a striking V-neckline.

These are sometimes also known as “plunging” necklines, depending on the depth of the plunge.

Apples look great in v-necks, and should pursue v-neck tunics with enthusiasm!


The “Artist” Shirt

I always imagine someone holding an easel in one of these. That said, they’re adorable! They’re usually button-down, and usually some kind of lighter natural material like cotton or linen.

Professional Blouse Tunic

Like its cousin the artist tunic, the professional blouse tunic is usually button-down, with a collar. These are generally made of high-quality fabric and better tailoring.

Great for professionals who need comfortable, flattering office wear! These also look great over jeans on casual Fridays.

long striped tunic

Sleeveless Tunics

Self-explanatory. Now, by sleeveless I do not mean “cap sleeve” – those can have the effect of making our shoulders look even bigger. Go for either shoulder-exposing tank-top sleeves, elbow-length sleeves, 3/4 length sleeves, or full sleeves. This will keep the body in balance.

Tunics intended for LAYERING

Now, this could mean a couple things. 1) The tunic is made from thin material, so you will NEED to include multiple layers on top, like vests, sweaters, or jackets. 2) The tunic is so plain that you will WANT to add to it with other style touches.

Tunics that stand alone – no layering needed

This describes any tunic that is decorative enough to stand on its own – such as one with a special print or design that you want to isolate.

Or, tunics which are made of heavier material like wool or knit fabrics that also make you want to wear it alone.

Tunics with asymmetrical lower hems

See above. That’s a classic asymmetrical lower hem. Here’s another, below. Note the multiple points of draping in the lower hem. This catches the eye and draws attention away from the belly.

Peasant Blouse” Tunics

Peasant blouse is a general term for loose-fitting tunics made with gauzy or crepe-like fabric, with decorative embroidery or paisley patterns.

Some styles of peasant blouse tunics have elastic over the entire neckline, so you can pull them down over the shoulders, for a more flirtatious and revealing look. These can also look quite exotic: and I know I’M already in the mood for vacation just from this next example. Beach and margaritas, anyone?

Tunics with Belts

Again, self-explanatory.

Many tunic shirts and dresses will include a cord belt, or even feature an eye-catching decorative belt. For apple-teenies, these belts can be shape-creating, and an asset. But for everyday or voluptuous apples, can problematic and detract from some of the original purpose OF wearing a tunic.

What Styles of Tunics Should Apples Wear?

OK, PHEW! That was a lot. But now we get to the good stuff – the fashion tips for apple shapes!

We can wear most of these tunic types. It’s amazing. It’s exciting. Again: we can wear MOST of everything I just described.  Let’s look at what not to do.

There are a few styles of tunics we should mostly avoid. This is extra true if you are plus size: tunics like this will not do us any favors:

  • Tightly belted tunics
  • Tight-fitting tunics, unless intended as a bottom layer
  • Tunics made from clingy fabric, unless intended as a bottom layer
  • Tunics with a specific pattern that is only over the midsection, and nowhere else on the tunic.
  • Tunics with a tight empire waist – you will mostly encounter these in the “peasant blouse” variety. Watch out, because tight empire waists on anything can have the unintended effect of amplifying our midsection and creating an illusion of maternity wear.
  • Tunics with cap sleeves – this can make our upper bodies look bigger than they are.

Ok, so I can wear most of tUNICS. Which ones are the absolute best?

The ones I favor for myself tend to have feminine or exotic embroidery or embellishments on the neckline, and also on the sleeves and cuffs.

I also LOOOVE sleeve embroidery and attractive neckline embroidery – these both serve to draw the gaze away from the midsection and up to the face, or even to the hands and arms. Also, embroidery is just pretty.


Bell sleeves specifically are gorgeous on tunics, because the bottoms tend to also “bell” out and flare from the body.

Bell sleeves can reinforce this flared shape on places other than our belly, and create more visual harmony in the garment.




SO Many Patterns

I gravitate towards uniform patterns on tunics, because these patterns do two things:

1) draw attention toward the overall beauty of the pattern and shirt

2) take visual focus away from any one body part – usually my big ol’ gut!

The rose-colored tunic here with the scoop neck and bell sleeves is just about everything an apple-shaped woman could ask for.

Can I Sex It Up?

Yes. Apples may also wear tunics that feature shoulder cut-outs.

Shoulder cut-outs draw the eye up to the shoulders and face.

That, and they’re suggestive in all the right ways. Great for clubbing!

Ok, ok- what do I wear WITH all these tunics?

Tunics are good because they’re easy.

Apple shaped women look best when pairing tunic shirts with leggings or skinny jeans. But, of course, tunic dresses can stand alone, and some tunics can be worn with wide-leg slacks – focus more on the button down and “artist shirt” tunics with slacks.

If you’re uncertain how best to wear this bad boy, try on your tunic with multiple bottoms and ask someone to tell you what looks better. Look at yourself in the mirror from multiple angles. Or, email me a picture – I’ll give you honest feedback!


Like most shirts, tunics can pair with dramatic jewelry, handbags, and stylish shoes. Some tunics are such a blank slate, such neutral and staple articles of clothing, that whatever you do pair with it, and how you build layers on it, will define whether your outfit is casual or dressy.

Example: a plain, solid, scoop-necked tunic. It may look like nothing special, but this puppy is a workhorse. Why?

  • You can pair it with jeans and a great handbag
  • You can pair it with vest and leggings
  • You can wear it over a pencil skirt with heels.
  • You can wear it with bermuda shorts and a fun hat on vacation
  • You can wear it under your favorite little jacket.
  • You can wear it with a flowing scarf and big earrings

Each time, and in each of these examples it’s your other articles of clothing and your accessories and shoes which dictate the overall tone of the outfit.

This allows you to get a shocking amount of mileage out of one comfortable, flattering item.

Ta Ta, Tunicologists!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the long and winding road to Tunic Expertise! Give yourself a pat on the tunic-covered back…you’ve earned it!

To see more recommended tunics for apple shapes, check out my Special Tunic Pinterest Board!



28 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love to wear tunics! I usually wear them with jeans or tights and try to get the colors to match nicely. Sometimes in the summer when it gets hot I like to wear a sleeveless tunic with short pants, but the pants usually get to the same length as the tunic and it doesn’t look good, but I don’t want to put on long pants. Do you have any suggestions as to what to in the summer time?

    1. Hi Paulina, thanks for the great comment. Sounds like you’ve already been won over by the mighty tunic! For summertime, I suggest wearing tunics with bermuda shorts (the long shorts which reach the knee) or even capri pants, which can be cooler than full-length pants because our lower legs can breathe. Finally, if the tunic is long enough, why not try it out as a dress? Enjoy!

  2. I am also a fan of Tunics. I love them because they are so comfortable to wear an like to wear them. I have to be honest I don’t have much time to look for all options so I usually buy them at a nearby local shop. That would be a different story if I knew where to look and your site gives great choices. I especially like the Long Sleeve Loose Casual Tunic T-Shirt Dress.

  3. I really loved reading this. It’s easy to talk about a piece of clothing, but it becomes much more useful when you explain what bottoms and accessories go best with them. I don’t think I own any tunics of my own, but after seeing this page I will definitely give tunics a shot using your styling suggestions 🙂

    1. Hi Brittany, thanks for the awesome feedback. I’m glad that this inspired you to try something new, that’s the goal! And it always helps to see how clothes can be put in context of the rest of the outfit. We have the fashion power!

  4. Hello

    I enjoyed your article on these tunic ladies wear, they do look awesome and very fashionable as well.

    I take it these are not meant for guys, some of them look like something the greeks would have wore. How long have these tunics been on the market, I have not seen any ladies where I live wearing these.?

    How would you choose a size if you wanted to purchase one of these for a lady friend?

    1. Thanks for the question! You would need to look at her other clothes, specifically the tags, to see what size she takes. I suggest looking at several items and then using the number that comes up the most often as your basis. The good thing about tunics is that they can be very forgiving, if you’re a little off!

  5. Whoa my girlfriend loves this type of style and I can see her in one of them, I am going to have to show her your website because I am sure she will love it. I got a question, just in case I do decide to surprise her, any specific color for her skin tone, which is kind of tannish skin tone?

    1. Hi Bassam, thanks for the great question! Tannish skin looks good with all kinds of colors, especially bright blues and pinks – these play well off the yellow undertones. Tan skin also looks fantastic in white. Hope this helps in your shopping!

  6. Yep, those Greeks and Romans really knew what it was all about! I must be going through a mid-life crisis or something because I’m reinventing my dress style and absolutely loving all of your tips! I live in a fabulous part of the world with rapidly changing weather though, so I’m wondering…what kind of jacket do you wear with a tunic?

    1. This is a great question! And it’s never too late to have fun with clothes and expand your usual repertoire.

      For jackets over tunics: it all depends on the fabric and fit. For the “under” layers, you can put basically anything on over top, long or short. For a lighter fabric like linen, I’d avoid wearing a heavy overcoat (mixing seasons).

      Even short jackets (think denim) or blazers look ok over tunics, especially worn open vs. closed. (this is a whole other article, but apples tend to be elongated visually by open jackets instead of closed ones — I can’t tell you HOW many gorgeous jackets I have that fit me perfectly everywhere except the middle — so luckily wearing them open works).

      Hope this helps, and thanks for the feedback!

  7. Hah! I knew there was a reason I love tunics – I’m an apple! Seriously, I have converted most of my tops to tunics over the couple of years. My only problem is that I am very tall (6’1) and thus need them really, really long.
    Thanks for these awesome tips.

    1. Hi Claudia – thank you so much for the great feedback. You sew, that’s so awesome and USEFUL for an apple! You bring up a good point about height – some people say there are no tall apples, and that simply isn’t true. Segourney Weaver is an apple and she’s also over 6′. Many female volleyball and basketball players are also apples. happy shopping! -Penelope

  8. Oh, I absolutely love me some good tunics. They are a staple in my wardrobe, and you’ve featured some gorgeous ones on here. I have a question… Would it ever work to pair a peasant tunic with wide-legged pants? I’m a sucker for both tunics and wide-legged/palazzo pants and often feel I have nothing to wear! I’ll try to cultivate a fondness for the “artist” tunics. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the question! I think that some people can pull off the combo of a peasant tunic and wide-leg pants – it’s really all about whether it creates a flattering silhouette for you. Some apples can actually create more balance in the lower body by wearing wide-leg pants (particularly for shorter apples, or those with extremely thin legs relative to the upper body). And yeah, the “artist” tunic is a great go-to good for most situations and events. Happy tunicking! -Penelope

  9. Just the help I needed Penelope, thanks! What I have needed is someone, other than my slender daughter, who has a straight-soft curve, to tell me how to dress this apple shape. A little know-how may save me money.


  10. I love tunics too! It is very versatile and flattering, hiding all the unsightly fats haha. Pairing them with leggings have the slimming effect. Any recommendation of online store for Tunics?

  11. Hi, great post, I found it really interesting.

    Being pregnant at the moment, I am bored of just looking in the maternity section all the time and love a tunic (especially as summer is on its way).
    I love how you have shown for all different shapes and sizes of women.

    The only downside to this post is my husband my not be happy that I will now be on my way to the shops to buy more! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Beverly, thanks for the great feedback! Yes, tunics are GREAT for maternity wear! And hey, you can always shop online on a budget if you need to appease your husband (less risky than being out in public with the gorgeous clothes and unknown price tags). There are a lot of great tunics that are inexpensive, even with shipping or international shipping 🙂

  12. I commend you for this site, its very needed especially in a culture that doesn’t really consider curvy girls. I am not very curvy but I would for sure buy this clothes, they are gorgeous. The great thing is that it seems to fit any shape, especially in summer this is perfect for me.


    1. thanks for the comment! I would agree, a lot of these recs are good for any body type, and I’m happy whenever anyone can get some value from my blog. thanks for visiting!

  13. Tunics have always been one of my Go-To styles!! I think they’re flattering on a lot of shapes. And, the cutest with leggings or jeggings and booties! Thanks for all the great info & style ideas!!

  14. I love Tunics! They are so free flowing and comfortable. You have a great selection here. My daughter could use some of these to wear for her pregnancy. I think they would look great on her. I like the shoulder cutouts too. Great post!

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