Where Should a Tunic Top Finish?



I would like your opinion on the hem length of tunic type tops. I’m a knitting designer and teacher and this topic comes up in my Fit and Flatter classes. I think women slimmest when the hem hits just below the crotch so that the leg length is undetermined by the viewer and therefore looks longer. One of my designer buddies says the crotch must be exposed for the legs to look the longest. I suspect that we are both right and have failed to take a third factor into consideration, perhaps colour contrast or thigh shape. Do you have any thoughts on this?


hot to find your best tunic length

hot to find your best tunic length by imogenl featuring a white tunic

The answer to this depends on a myriad of factors:  body shape, thigh shape, body proportions (leg length), widest point, colour contrast … so let’s look at a few of these.

1.  Body shape – If you are  a I or V shape and have slim thighs, then you may want to end shorter, if you are an A or X shape then you’re more likely to want to end a little longer.  If you are an 8, H or O shape you may find that you need a slightly longer tunic so that you don’t look boxy.

tunic length curvy legs

tunic length curvy legs by imogenl featuring an embellished tunic

2. Thighs – do you have curved thighs (saddlebags)?  If so, then you’ll want to end a tunic top below the widest point of your thighs.  If you have straight thighs then you can choose to end higher.  In the picture you’ll see that the grey leggings are a shorter leg and curvier thigh, whilst the grape leggings are longer legs and slimmer, straighter thigh.

3. Leg lengths – are your legs shorter or longer proportionally?  Leg break to knee should be about the same length as the length of your head, then knee to the ground should be about another 2 head lengths.  If you have short thighs (this is VERY common) then you will want to cover your crotch (so we can’t see where the legs start, it actually makes them look longer, but then keep the tunic above the knees to elongate your legs.

X shape vs 8 Shape - widest point

4. Widest point – you may remember this picture from my body shapes post.  If you don’t want to make your legs look wider than they already are, don’t put a horizontal (hem) at the widest point of your thighs.  So an X shape would have a lower tunic hem than an 8 shape (as in this example) as their widest points are at different places.

5. Colour contrast – the less you contrast the colour from tunic top to legging, the shorter it can be without making an obvious demarcation.


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  • My problem with the tunic length is it is too long over my buttocks, thus making me look heavier than I am. I look best in shirts that only come 3 – 4 ” below my natural waist. Will that style ever come back?

    • For most people that length is leg shortening and not the ideal – if you have long legs then you can get away with it. All fashions come and go – so there is always a chance it will turn up again in the fashion cycle!

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