Think of the tunic as the more sensible not-too-distant cousin of the mini-dress.

They can be strappy, haltered, baby doll, floral or long-sleeved, but tunics are probably one of those most universally enhancing trends to hit the mainstream within the past five years.

Sure, there's a difference between frocks, tunics and jumpers (really!), but let's just address them as one entity for now: Tunics are lengthy, flowy tops that usually hit the hips or lower. You can pair them with jeans, shorts or leggings—but they more than likely don't look good with skirts. They're a classy alternative to the too-revealing skintight digs that have been polluting high schools, clubs, Newport Beach and Wet Seal for far too long. And best of all, tunics hide all the right things in all the right places, especially with a length that flows over the belly but is still cinched tight up top, adeptly showing off racks and waists.

Tunics are one of those rare instances in which the runway translates perfectly into the everyday. Chlo, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Chanel and Diane von Furstenburg are just a few fashion houses that were in on the secret almost five years ago, and they're putting tunics on the runways even today.

The rule of thumb for the summery tunic is to not have the same silhouette up top as you do on the bottom. Tunics always look great with shorts, as long as the hem of the shorts meets the hem of the top, thus achieving the previously discussed knockout-Brigitte Bardot-baby-doll effect. Leggings are okay, too (I guess) but just try to avoid the worn-out mid-calf variety (you know it's time to stop when it hits Limited Too). But if you're really feeling the need to pair that tunic with jeans, stick to skinny jeans or, if you must, jeans with a minimal leg opening—meaning no flared jeans with a flared, flowy top. It's just too much.

The girl on the left here is cute with the also always-enhancing halter tunic, but she's chosen to pair hers with some more tailored jeans rolled up to just above her ankles and peeptoe heels. With her swept-up hair, she's just '50s enough. The girl on the right here is one of those almost kind of outfits—close enough that I kind of, sort of feel bad for saying this. Her hair, makeup and jewelry are fresh and cute and stuff, but the flares she wears with her brown-and-yellow color-blocked tunic just shorten her—and she's not even short. Sometimes wearing that lengthier tunic as a dress or with some shorter shorts is totally okay.



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