Smocks And Tunic Dresses

The tunic dresses and voluminous smocks in the shops right now have the added advantage of hiding a whole host of imperfections, from chunky thighs to bulging tummies.

This year the collection includes voluminous painter's smocks in earthy colours with delicate pin-tucking around the collars and short cap-sleeved grey tunic dresses.

Some were layered over light silk blouses and worn over thick ribbed wool tights. Others were cinched at the waist with a belt – one way to give this new volume some shape.

The collection includes tunics in vibrant floral-prints or navy wool embellished with jet beading, as well as simpler pale pink crop-sleeved tunics with a satin border.

On the high street, Topshop has some of the best examples, from a lightweight chocolate crop-sleeved tunic through to a really voluminous chambray denim peasanty smock.

At Principles there are fine crochet long-sleeved mini tunics, while Jaeger and French Connection have room for structureless dresses, too.

Another Philo innovation worth thinking about is to wear a long crisp white grandad shirt as a dress over opaque tights or black leggings. You can wear this with simple ballet pumps or balance the volume of the shirt with some chunky heeled shoes.

But the real beauty of these dresses is that they can be layered over almost anything – jeans, skinny-leg cords or black leggings. Those daring enough could try some ribbed wool tights – or, if that seems a little too fashion-forward, then good old black opaques will do just as well.

There are some concerns that tunics can look like maternity wear, but look on the bright side: someone might give you their seat on the train.

Smocks And Tunic Dresses
The rules

Do be sure to wear high heels if you are layering over jeans.

Do select the right tunic for your body. As Victoria Beckham has shown, they are tricky if you have a prominent bust. Choosing the right dress, however, helps to draw attention away. Avoid fussy details around the collar and opt for block colours and matt fabrics.

Do avoid prints – unless you are young and slim. Plain tunics are more flattering.

Do cover bulges with less voluminous, straight-cut tunics. The more fabric there is, the more it can seem you have to hide.

Don't assume, however, that voluminous dresses will always make you look bigger. If cut well in the right fabric, like Jaeger's black wool version, they can be very flattering.

Don't wear these dresses with spindly high heels; they work best with chunky heeled sandals or knee-high boots.

Don't avoid shorter dresses simply because you don't have the legs to wear them. The beauty of these tunics is that they can be worn over trousers or jeans.

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