The Evolution of the Tunic Shirt
Tunics have become an essential style in many of our wardrobes. Wear your tunic as a tunic dress, a beach coverup or as an oversized dress shirt tucked into your favorite See ROSE Go track pants. We all love a good tunic. Tunics come in a variety of styles from the long tunic, t-shirt tunics, and tunics that have long sleeves or are sleeveless. But how did the tunic shirt silhouette become the timeless style icon it is today with the styling appeal and staying power beyond centuries?
The style dates back all the way to the ancient Mediterranean world. According to Britannica, a tunic “was fashioned from two pieces of linen sewn up the sides and across the top, with holes left for the head and arms. It reached to the knees or lower, was with or without sleeves, belted at the waist, and held at the shoulders by clasps,”. The word tunic comes from the Latin word tunica. In Ancient Greece, the tunic shirt was the main style in a wardrobe, worn by both men and women with one main difference being the stitching of the garment. Women’s tunics were typically gathered at the shoulder in an ornate way resembling dainty buttons. The men’s tunics were more simply stitched together. Typically these ancient tunic tops were made with natural fibers like linen and wool and were cut into a v-neck shape. Even children wore tunic shirts, and their tunics were often decorated with different colors and embellishments.
During the 3rd century, the dalmatic tunic became a new tunic shirt style. Described as “a long tunic, T-shaped garment with wide sleeves and a slit at either side of the skirt”, these tunics were often made with colorful tapestries that featured wool accents around the hems and neckline. During the 11th century (time of the Byzantine Empire), members of imperial families were seen wearing dalmatic tunic shirts that were adored with appliquéd decorations and gold accents. In the 14th century, the loose fitting tunic style was replaced with the fitted body garment, and nowadays the word tunic often refers to a long blouse. Over time, the tunic silhouette has changed depending on gender. A woman’s tunic became distinctly different from a man’s. As time passed, female garments became a way to showcase beauty and were less about function.(Read more about the power of pockets and the history behind why we love pockets in women’s clothing). These garments would place status on display. For example, the stola was a style of tunic that was long and sleeveless. It was worn over another tunic to symbolize marriage. All married women were entitled to wear this style of tunic according to Roman law. Through variations in fabric, embellishments and law one thing remains constant, the tunic remains steady as a refined, versatile and functional design. Modern day style has embraced tunic shirts in all fabrics and forms. From pullovers, to coverups, to tunic sweaters, with styles that are short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeveless, and loose fitting or form fitting, there is a tunic shirt style out there for everyone of any age!
Why We Love the Tunic Shirt Silhouette
One of the many reasons we love a tunic is for the ease, versatility and long line silhouette. If your aim is to create an effortless outfit of the day (aka OOTD), tunic shirts provide that less-is-more mentality. A true wardrobe warrior, the tunic shirt checks all the boxes, especially in terms of plus-size fashion, because the long silhouette of the tunic shirt creates clean, long lines that flatter any woman's figure. Even better, because of the tunic's versatility, wearers are able to get a great return on their cost-per-wear, or in other words, a great bang for their buck! It's a shirt, it's a dress, no - it's a TUNIC! ; )
How to Style the Tunic Shirt
A tunic's power is in its versatility and functionality. Tunics can be worn on their own as a dress, paired with our Tailored Track Pant, tucked or untucked (read our French Tuck How-To Guide), or even as a lighter alternative to a cardigan on those warmer days. When you find the right tunic for your wardrobe there is endless style potential! A pro-styling tip from celebrity stylist Meaghan O'Connor is to follow the 3 look rule. When considering a purchase, even a tunic purchase, ensure you can wear the piece at lease 3 ways within your existing wardrobe. This way you now you can truly enjoy this item on repeat for years to come.
One of my personal favorite ways to style a tunic is over my go-to pair of skinny jeans with a half-tuck. It is a guaranteed pulled-together outfit that looks like I put in way more effort than I actually did while getting ready. Another option is to pair your tunic with a cute, chunky belt and wear it as a belted tunic dress to accentuate your waistline! Looking for a work to weekend idea?! We suggest leaving your button up tunic over the back of your desk chair. At moments notice, it's ready to be thrown on over a sports bra for that afternoon Zoom call. Then outfit repeat as the perfect day dress for your weekend outing to the farmers market.
Here are some other ideas for how to style your tunic shirt:
- Going casual? Wear your tunic over biker shorts and pair with sneakers! Apple picking anyone?
- Date night: wear your tunic as a dress and switch out your go-to sneakers or ballet flats for some super cute heels.
- For light layers: throw on your unbuttoned tunic over a simple t-shirt and pants, like our tailored track pant! The perfect outfit to stay warm on those crisp Fall days.
- For the cooler days: put on a pullover sweatshirt or sweater over your tunic shirt, and pair it with your comfiest pair of leggings or jeans for a look that keeps you feeling warm and cozy!
If you’re still looking for some more style inspiration check out some of our favorite looks in our Signature Tunic Shirt!
See ROSE Go has reimagined the tunic, fusing all the ease and function of its style ancestors with the modernity of technical fabrics and sophisticated design. Keeping movement, comfort and style in mind, design details include cooling and wicking benefits that offer body-heat regulation, a deep-back pleat for easy arm mobility, a slightly dropped shoulder giving a relaxed fit, and an elongated tunic length that delivers versatility as either a shirt or a dress. Not to mention, the See ROSE Go tunic also features refined piping details at the collar, cuff, and center front placket for that distinctive See ROSE Go signature AND POCKETS! You know we love the power of the pocket here at SRG.
The Signature Tunic Shirt comes in three different colors; Charcoal, Poppy and Tech White. All styles are made from Reclaimed fabric that has been left over from other companies' overproduction. Our use of reclaimed fabric for many of our pieces is part of our sustainability initiative. In our Tunic Shirts you’ll not only look amazing when wearing them, you'll feel amazing about wearing them. You can find the selection of our Signature Tunic Shirt here!