How to wear tunics or short dresses with pants

by Sylvia

How to wear tunics or short dresses with pants |

Wearing a tunic or short dress over skinnies and leggings is one of my favorite looks as I find it an easy, comfortable, flattering and often very stylish look to wear. When you check the What I wore section on this site you will find numerous examples.

This outfit formula can both be worn in a dressy way as well as casually chic.

My look of today consists of a short silk dress I found at the Vivienne Tam sale.

I have worn this dress without pants as well in the evening but my favorite way of wearing it is with either black or cream skinnies. The cropped skinnies are from Zara.

vivienne tam short silk dress worn over Zara skinnies |

I could not resist taking a picture with this fabulous car. You really don’t see many of these in Singapore.

how to wear a dress over pants |

Judith (The Style Crone) is also a great fan of the tunic over skinnies look. It is one of her signature outfits, proving that this look has no age limit. Today’s outfit also shows that you don’t have to surrender your waist either (as I did above).  I love how Judith mixes the chic (hat and dress) with the casual (jean jacket and skinnies) and created this really casually chic look which is perfect for a stroll in the park.

Judith wearing a dress and jacket over leggings |

Kay (Polyvore) created 2 versions with leggings and printed dresses.

casual chic with tunic sover pants |

Lorraine is looking lovely with her striped tunic worn over skinny jeans and cropped trousers.

Lorraine wearing striped tunics over trousers |

Sunny (home where story begins) is looking fab in her Old Navy leggings with a uniquely patterned Donna Morgan tunic. It is further accessorized with a bold Indian scarf, jean jacket, imitation Prada bag, nude flats and jewelry.

Sunny wearing a dress over leggings |

I absolutely love Greetje’s (No fear of Fashion) Acne tunic that she loves to combine with big bold necklaces. she also looks great with colored tunics.

Greetje wearing her beloved Acne tunic |

Greetje wearing skinnies with a bright tunic |

Ana (Mrs American Made) loves to wear her printed tunics with skinnies and long boots.

Ana wearing tunics with jeans | Ana wearing printed tunic over black pants |

Daenel (Living Outside the Stacks) gives the look a bohemian vibe showing that this outfit formula can look equally good worn with wide pants.

wearing tunics over pants with a bohemian vibe |

A few tips on how to wear short dresses and tunics with pants

  • Pay attention to proportion. There are no clear-cut rules although the 1/3-2/3 principle can help. Shorter women usually look better with shorter tunics and dresses. Trust your instinct when you look in the mirror.
  • The look is easiest to pull of with a wider short dress that rests on the middle of your upper legs. However, other options can work well too like longer peplums (see Greetje’s look) or longer dresses (see Judith’s look).
  • You can surrender your waist or accent it.
  • There are just so many options with this look that it is difficult to give clear-cut guidelines. What I would encourage you to do is just to play with it and have fun. Try a few combinations from your closet and see if it works. You may just be pleasantly surprised!

Thanks everyone for joining in this challenge!

Do you like to to wear the tunics / short dress over pants formula? Which is your favorite look from the above?


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alice - Happiness at Mid Life

I always struggle with dress and pants just doesn’t look right on me. I do like leggings with longer sweaters. All the looks are great here!



2 Sylvia

Thanks Alice. In the end you need to wear what suits you. I can understand that this look is not for everyone.


3 Ann

All of you have done this challenge beautifully. Like Alice, I struggle with the dress and pants look. I think it’s harder if you are petite in size. Great top with your white jeans Sylvia. Your shoes are just super with this outfit!

blue hue wonderland


4 Sylvia

Harder but not impossible 🙂 Thanks for the kind compliments Ann!


5 Linda Houston

Very interesting and helpful for us mature women.. I am petite—while in my book is short not necessarily “thin”. Need more info..for that type of body.


6 Sylvia

Hi Linda. Did you check out the how to dress after 40 section? There are lots of articles there about body type. We are all a combination of several elements. You may like to start with the how to dress when you are petite article.


7 Jennifer

Very good ideas. I am a big proponent of the leggings with a shorter sheath dress look.


8 Sylvia

Thanks Jennifer!


9 Greetje Kamminga

Lovely examples… I like all of them very much. Of course some of them are more up my alley thank others, but there isn’t one I would dismiss. So … a great post. One special mention for Judith… gosh that woman can look good!
(Indeed a very rare site: a beetle in good condition with “fire” on it. Beautiful.)


10 Sylvia

Thanks Greetje. Yes, I agree, Judith looks stunning.


11 Daenel T

Thank you for including me. I’m definitely a tunic/dress over jeans kinda girl. It just fits my lifestyle and taste. The leggings/ankle pants are still something I need to try. I think what confuses me is what shoes to wear, you know? I don’t want to look cut off.


12 Sylvia

Thanks for taking part Daenel. Shoes that can really work with shorter pants is shoes with ankle straps in a similar color as the pants for a longer leg line. But I also wear them with heeled sandals and ballet flats.


13 Belen de bellepoque
14 Claudia



15 Ana from Mrs. American Made

Thank you this series, Sylvia. It is such an inspiration for those days when I am not sure what to pull out of the closet! Everybody here looks fantastic. : ) Ana


16 Sylvia

Thanks for taking part Ana and great to know that these articles help inspire you.


17 kay kerns

Enjoyed all these looks, thanks Sylvia.

formula 5


18 Trina

I personally, don’t tend to wear this look too often, but I do enjoy seeing it on other women. I must say, Sylvia, I would wear that ensemble of yours today, possible the next day and then again a few days later. That dress looks perfect paired with your skinnies but I’m sure it would look just as good with leggings or plain. Lovely, lovely dress.
I enjoyed seeing all these wonderful ways of pairing tunics with pants, I really must give it a try some time soon.


19 Sylvia

Thanks Trina. Yes its a very versatile dress!


20 Lorraine

Thanks for including me Sylvia. I never wore tunics until I discovered 40+style and I would urge readers to give it a try. There’s a tunic out there for everybody! As an ‘hourglass’ I have to make sure they are not too straight, and these two are my current favourites.


21 Sylvia

Thanks for taking part Lorraine! Great to know that this site has inspired you to try something new and that it works too!


22 The Style Crone

Thanks for the inclusion, Sylvia. I’m loving the examples of tunics or dresses with pants, and the personal expression of the stylish women in this post. Your blog is a constant inspiration for me!


23 Sylvia

It was great to have you Judith. So is your blog to me. It seems like we are inspiring each other!


24 PamCT

I have a sleeveless maxi dress in taupe that has side slits up to the knees. When I add a pair of black leggings under the dress, the outfit becomes ultra chic. And I’m comfy!


25 Sylvia

Wonderful Pam. Hope you can show us some time.


26 Locus

Hi all
I am somehow not able to reconcile the seams of a pant (and the button and thickness around there) showing through a dress or a long top, I would rather wear a long top with full or 3/4th leggings. Also I would avoid a dress which divides the top half and lower half with a seam for this look, a shift dress with leggings is more me…


27 Sylvia

That’s perfectly fine Locus. The pants I’m wearing actually did not have a zipper in front and are quite flat which tends to work best for sure.


28 Theresa

I love, love, love all of Ana’s looks!! This is the style I have been trying to create, chic but not too formal. I really like that her waist is not hidden. I am tall with a large bust and anything that does not have a defined waist looks awful on me.


29 Angela

Hi girls, a tunic or top over leggings is a great idea and very flattering BUT I fail to understand why you’d do it in Singapore. Even wearing jeans whether they be a very light weight fabric or normal denim makes me hot just thinking about it. In the right weather, a very comfortable look!!


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: