India Pearl Tunic by Sita De Vesci, $350, at
India Pearl Tunic by Sita De Vesci, $350, at
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The sundress has it usefulness, of course: Pretty, polished, practical. Dare we add -- predictable? But there are days when covering up is in order. And as a tried-and-true alternative to the ubiquitious summer frock, how about the summer tunic? So Babe Paley, so Jackie O, so boho-rich-girl chic.

It's a perennial classic, constantly popping in and out of style, ever since the Greeks and Romans started sporting them way, way, waaaay back in the day. It crops up in cultures around the world, in different incarnations, from the North African djellabah to the Indian kurta to the English smock. The tunic really had its moment a couple of seasons back, when Tory Burch co-opted the '70s and made it the must-have item from summer. But never mind the vagaries of fashion's ins and outs: The tunic remains a go-to staple in any grown woman's wardrobe. As Halston once observed, the tunic makes even the most non-X-rayesque among us look good.

This season, you can find a myriad of variations on a theme: Floral and fluttery, like Diane von Furstenburg's little red and white butterfly number. Or ornate and beaded, like Burch's white and silver beaded topper. Or Mexican campesino like Project E's hip skimmer. Or bold and bright like Sita de Vesci's embroidered turquoise silk. Toss them over a bathing suit for a quick coverup, or don them with jeans and earrings, and you're good to go. (Added incentive: Grab one now, and you're likely to find one on sale.)

Plus, it's got a marvelous way of hiding those blasted bumps and bulges.

-- Teresa Wiltz

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