Tunics come in many shapes and sizes, which makes them difficult to classify, not to mention hard to choose from. They differ in terms of length, how they fall on the body, the general style of the garment, the neckline, the texture, the colours, and many other aspects. Essentially, though, they are loose-fitting articles of clothing that flow below the waist and hips, usually extending toward the knees or ankles. Nowadays, anything longer than a T-shirt but shorter and more drapey than a work dress qualifies as womens tunics as well.
Tunics have been worn since time immemorial, but it's only recently that ladies have started sporting these clothes. The style is thought to have originally been worn by Ancient Greeks and Romans, then Celto-Germanic peoples, Byzantines and Anglo-Saxons. Long jackets called 'tunics' were worn by British soldiers in the Crimean War, and then the style crossed over from military to clerical use. The style ladies wear today is less like the traditional mens wear described above, and more like the kurtas worn by ladies in the Indian sub-continent.
It's hard to go wrong with a tunic, but any lady interested in avoiding a fashion faux pas should know the basic types of womens tunics to be found in stores. In terms of length, they can be tunic shirts or tops and tunic dresses. In terms of fit, they can be belted, ruched, flowing, bohemian, batwing, butterfly, and kaftan or fitted tunics.
Given their loose, drapey base, they tend to go well with form-fitting jeans, leggings and even tights. Skirts may also go well with womens tunics, as long as they're several inches longer. In terms of outerwear, ladies don't tend to wear anything other than shawls or boleros over their tunics, especially in the summer time. Butterfly, batwing and kaftan tunics are tailored with droopy sleeves that tend to hang over the sides, which is why they aren't particularly well suited for wear under an overcoat. Sleeveless, waist-fitted tunics, however, can be matched splendidly with lace blazers and even sporty jackets.
As they are so comfortable, airy and easy to take on and off, womens tunics make excellent beach attire. Some are so flattering that they could pass for ravishing evening wear, though most tend to be casual and more suitable for daywear. Some can be see-through or with low necklines or bare shoulders, which is why they are reserved for occasions that aren't particularly extravagant. Shopping sprees, lunch dates, coffee with friends, picnics and weekend outings are more appropriate for this type of garment, which simply oozes a laid-back attitude.
Ladies tunics are never dull, but they tend to draw attention to themselves especially due to their interesting patterns and colours. With tribal prints, animal prints, floral, geometric, kaleidoscope, colourblock, damask, paisley and abstract prints adorning their tunics, ladies are always in the spotlight. The colours tend to be vivid and vibrant if they're inspired by Indian or African motifs, or light and pastel-like if they aim to emulate natural elements.
Many tunic styles feature embroidered motifs and appliques, while some boast piping, overlay or pleats. There's no limit to the creativity designers can put into the making of ladies tunics, and they spare no cost in making them shine. Paillettes, sequins, beads, pearls, mother of pearl beads, semiprecious stones like turquoise, jasper, garnet, onyx, aventurine, jade, amethyst, obsidian and agates, or even crystals and diamonds can go into the making of these gorgeous tunics.
Tunics are so light and versatile that they can be worn with just about any type of shoe and handbag. Wedges and totes, pumps and satchels, ballerina flats and messenger bags, stilettos and baguettes, mary-janes and fold-over bags all go very well with a tunic and perhaps a matching belt around the waist. As for jewellery, bangles, chandelier earrings, tribal necklaces, chain ankle bracelets, and just about every type of accessory will do, be it made of metal, wood, rope, plastic or precious elements.