Better On The Hanger – Part III


In this final segment of the series “Better on The Hanger,” let’s discuss long tops. Many of us enjoy wearing long full tunic style tops, especially if they have pockets and bold colors or print details. We may feel that we are hiding a multitude of things. But are we?

Long tunics worn with pants and flats can make my legs appear to be shorter than they are, so I don’t have many remaining in my closet. In past summers, I wore four-inch heels with slim-fitting jeans and long tops, which gave me different proportions. (Long straight-leg pants that stop at the top of the foot are more flattering with flats.) Now that I am no longer wearing heels during the day, I find that tunics can be overwhelming. The combination can cause unflattering proportions that make me look shorter and heavier than I am. The high contrast of a long top worn with white pants visually cuts my body in half. Tops and jackets which end at mid-bottom make my legs appear to be longer since they show the full length of the leg.

As we age, our legs change shape, especially at the knees. I no longer feel comfortable in leggings or very slim-fitting jeans. When I try on something from my closet that no longer feels right, I don’t put it back. Instead, it goes in the donate box, which saves time and frustration later. It also alerts me to the fact that I no longer have a basic in that color, which fits appropriately. I always avoid emergency shopping. Carefully planned purchases work out much better for me.

I like this tunic by IC Collection because it has pockets and points in the not overly long hemline, which are more flattering than straight across. I do have to be careful what I wear with it. I believe it looks better with black pants than white pants because the color continues without making me appear to be shorter. This tunic is by IC Collection, and it was a gift from ShopMyFairLady.com.

The white jeans are the Sheri Slim style from NYDJ. The espadrille low wedge shoes are by Ralph Lauren a couple of years ago. The colorful clutch bag above is a few years old.

I hope that this series has inspired you to consider future purchases with an eye on design details as well as the color. When we aim to look our best, it may take a bit of practice. Have a beautiful weekend!

92 Comments
  1. Thank you for reminding us that details matter. I, like you, keep a donate shopping bag in the closet for when something no longer works for me. This series has been quite helpful.

  2. Because I like the detail on the top left- I’d have it cut and hemmed to a high/low top…just long enough to cover in the back and shorter in the front.

  3. I have tried to stay by the rule about the hip bone which makes many of my tops like the shorter top in the photo anyway. I am 5’3″ and the long tunic top only looks good on me if I stay very slim which I am slim but not very at the moment and if the tunic is fitted at the bottom.
    I have taken tunics and had the bottom cut off or fitted.

  4. Great look in both pictures but the point is the proportions do matter. Loved it tucked in and what an architectural difference!

  5. Actually, I prefer the tunic top on the left. The V neck and the cutouts on the sleeves, I like better than the scoop neck.

    You would look beautiful in a gunny sack tho!

    Doris

  6. I aim for tops that fall in between the tunic and the scoop neck tee you show in you last pictures. So many tees barely cover the waist band of my jeans so I’ve found a company with tees about 2 inches longer. They cover everything but don’t look sloppy. And I also love the white jeans with black top. It is a combination I wear frequently.

  7. I’m very short, so I have to be careful about proportions and lengths of tops with pants. I used to wear boot cut pants, but had to wear them with heels. I liked the way they lengthened my silhouette, But, since I no longer wear heels I prefer slim pants. I still have quite a variety of tunics, but I’ve noticed that they have gradually been getting shorter so they don’t overwhelm me.

    1. The hip bone rule is that a top should stop at just below the top of hip bone or a bit above where your leg bends. If I had a pear shape, I would wear slim fitting dark jeans with a flare that starts just above the knee and extends to the top of the foot or as long as possible. I would wear tops with details that make the shoulders look wider and draw the attention up to the face. The best tops for a pear shape stop below the natural waist. When you try to cover your bottom with a longer top, it can bring more attention to it.

  8. You are so right about long loose printed tunics! I feel instead of covering sins, they actually emphasize them and can make for a dowdy look. Even if one is not model thin, it’s better to have properly fitted clothes than a sack! Far better to have something not so baggy, not a huge floral or splashy print. I too like the black pants better with the black top. The white jeans are nice but to me the proportions are better with the scoop top.

  9. This series is a great reminder. Yes, planned purchases are a must for me. Also, I am liking “structured” clothing. Structured clothing works for me in all seasons except summer (I live in a four season climate). If I stay in air conditioning I am still okay. Daytime outdoor events, parks and recreation are a challenge to dress for. To stay cool, I feel frumpy. I think I need a sporty go-to uniform but not gym clothes, of course. I am thinking summer clothes either look too young or too old on me — especially the tops. I do like adding an art inspired necklace. I will stay tuned to learn more from you, Susan. THANK YOU

  10. I have always felt overwhelmed by long tops. The one you are wearing is very flattering because of the hemline. Love this series of posts!

  11. Thank you so much for this little series. The side-by-side visuals are very helpful. I am trying to be very mindful of my purchases and keep these tips in mind. I’m also changing my focus to one of quality than quantity. (Sales can be too tempting if I don’t control myself!) With that said, my closet is looking better and I’m not so frustrated when I need to get dressed. So glad I found your site!

  12. I think this is the best series you have ever done. The comparison photo at the end of these posts really highlight the difference proportion and visual lines make (and the other points you make). As always you look beautiful in both outfits but for me, seeing the comparison, was extremely helpful. We have different body types (I’m 5’8″ with a slight pear shape) but I feel I have a better sense of what to look at when standing in the front of a mirror. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to every post!

  13. I’ve commented many times on how much I love your blog Susan. However, I still find shopping a struggle . At the age I’m at, I wonder if I will ever be able to relax while shopping! I usually shop alone since its frustrating for me, so I’m not going to drag someone along to experience this as well. My daughter tells me I’m too hard on myself, but I always seem to have to go to great lengths to find anything I’m truly happy with. I usually end up with something I like well enough to buy.
    Anyway, I’ll keep reading.

  14. Excellent series! I am 5’8″ with proportionally shorter legs and only wear flats. Never felt comfortable in tunics but will rethink that because of the point at the hem of this tunic. Shirttail hems seem to make my legs look longer with any length top.

    Even non-tunic tops are very long the last few years. A third piece makes all the difference because I can tuck in the top, but too hot for summer. Given the rest of the top fits well, I’ve taken to buying petite size tops for the shorter length and met other non-petite women in petite sections doing the same thing! Saves a trip to the tailor.

    Was so pleased when I received my first top from your shop. The length is perfect for me, and I’ve bought a couple more. They wash well and look great!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for shopping with me. I have been visiting the Petites section more often these days also. I love not having to get jeans hemmed. I appreciate you, Kim.

  15. I am 5’1” and love the tops at Covered Perfectly, but they are way too long for me. Do you have a store or brand that you would recommend for us petites? Thanks so much!

    1. The tops from my shop are shorter than tunics, but still long enough for me. You might try the Petite section of your favorite store. Even though I am almost 5’7″ I can often find better lengths there.

  16. Hi Susan

    I love your style!!!! Thanks for inspiring all the woman out there, that you can look great even after 60.

    Well done!!

  17. What a timely post! My go-to summer outfit is a pullover top and white jeans. However, instead of a middle-age spread, I have a tummy bump What is a good length for tops when one has belly bulge? Also, is there a pullon white straight leg Jean that you would recommend? I like my Jag jeans but Peri straight are no longer available in white. Thank you!

    1. We are tempted to wear a longer top with a tummy bump but the length might actually be drawing more attention to it than we think. I find that tops which stop at the middle of rather than below my tummy look better. The Lior Paris straight leg jeans are very nice. You can find one style here at My Fair Lady.

  18. I’ve really enjoyed this series. Your analysis has been a helpful tool that I can apply. Please continue to provide this analysis in the future.

  19. As usual, the information you provide is invaluable! I was at my doctor’s office this morning, and in the waiting room another woman (a stranger) said to me: “Oh! You look so put together!” and all I could think was that it’s due to you and a few other helpful fashion bloggers whom I follow. But this morning when I was getting dressed, I remembered some of the tips that you specifically have provided over the years, and especially with regard to proportions, and I made a couple of minor adjustments to my outfit accordingly, and went out the door and received that nice compliment. And I wasn’t dressed up and my outfit was completely comfortable! Thank you, Susan!

  20. This was a super series. Even tho we may know what basically looks good on us, we really do need to make small but strategic changes and sometimes those are hard to figure out. This was very helpful.

  21. Susan , I took your navy crepe pants and matching navy top on a recent cruise. Following your advise, I found three toppers to vary the look for formal evenings. I was pleased with the fit and quality and will continue to look in your “Shop”. Gee, I’m 63 and just now learning how to dress my body. Better late than never!

  22. I love your very practical advice. I am short with narrow shoulders and a very modest bust, so if I wear any kind of tunic top it a) shortens my appearance, and more importantly, b) it just clings to my tummy most unattractively. I also feel like a mushroom!

  23. Hi, Susan! I love a column of one color when creating outfits for myself, since it’s so slimming. Although I am already slim, wearing the same color top and bottom (and including shoes and stockings if possible) makes me look taller and longer when I’m actually only 5’4″ and have short legs with a long torso. So people can’t seem to believe that I’m not taller than that. I always project a slim illusion (even when I weighed more). A high color contrast between my top and bottom doesn’t look right on me, both for my size and my neutral coloring. So if there are any others out there finding similarities to me when reading this comment, I hope my view on this is helpful! It’s not so easy for those who don’t have an artistic eye to see these things in the color and line of their appearance. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. — Angie

  24. I have loved this series! Especially with the side by side photos. Thank you so very much. Sometimes I see it and know, other times I just don’t like it but don’t know why. You explained a lot.

  25. Kathy, who makes the longer tee shirts? I would love to find some that are a bit longer than usual without being tunics!

    1. The company I’ve started getting my casual tees from is mail order called Duluth Trading Company. It started out primarily as a men’s workwear company and expanded into women’s workwear also. The material on the tees is just a little heftier than some others I’ve tried and as I said they offer some with 2 inch longer hems. I’ve been pleased with my purchases there so far. Thanks for asking!
      Kathy

  26. This was a great series, Susan. I have several of the Covered Perfectly scoop neck tops that are really long on me. I find they look much better if I knot it on the bottom on one side and kind of blouse it up.

  27. I have learned so much from you! Love these lessons. Since I have a similar body and am 64, I feel like you are talking to me!

    Kathy

  28. Actually, I like you better with the white pants. I’m not usually a fan of black on ladies our age but the black tunic with white pants looks very crisp and summery. I think you are tall enough 5o pull it off even without heels. It took me awhile to adjust to seeing myself without heels, now I love it. A face that isn’t in pain is so much more attractive.

  29. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when you do side by side photos. Then I can clearly see what you talk about.
    Thank you for your posts.

  30. Susan,
    Honestly there is not much of a difference between the 2 photos. Life is too short to agonize over something nobody else would even notice. You look beautiful, proportionate and casually put together in either. I don’t follow anyone’s rules, because inevitably in a short time that rule does not apply anymore and you come up with a new rule. It seems the women over 60 stay in some sort of old fashioned mind set of fashion do’s and don’ts and micromanaging their wardrobes, i.e agonizing over “an orange red vs. a blue red”. Realize you are so much greater than this Susan and the world has moved on from this mindset.
    Staying healthy, being loving, growing spiritually and dressing with a sense of style and common sense work for me.
    All the best to you,
    Joy

    1. So you say that “women over 60 stay in some sort of old fashioned mind set (sic) of fashion do’s and don’ts and micromanaging their wardrobes . . . and the world has moved on from this mindset.” Did I get that right?

  31. This is your only style tip I have ever disagreed with. The top looks great on you with white pants. It lengthens your body and does not shorten your legs. I honestly think you could wear a sack and still look wonderful!

  32. I think that’s a good point. A top that is shorter also gives more of a waistline impression.
    I’m an outdoors girl and shorts and short skirts are staying in my wardrobe for the time being. I wouldn’t go to work in anything above my knee, not because I don’t like how my knees look, that fashion choice is more about looking like the wise and competent staffer that I am.

  33. Susan, you are really getting to me! I’m going to have to change my entire wardrobe. How am I going to wear shorter tops and still cover my belly bulge? I do wear body shapers, albeit not uncomfortably tight ones, but I’m still uncomfortable with shorter tops. Your demonstrations clearly illustrate, though, how much better they’ll look on me. Arggh! I’m going to need a personal consultation! Help! —- Joking somewhat, but you know my body shape and you know exactly what I mean. Thank you for your sage fashion advice!

  34. i very much enjoy your ‘Better on the Hanger’ series and I hope you continue to do them. Your explanation enables me to view critically your outfit and apply it to mine. I definitely have a long way to go in understanding how to put outfits together. Thank you.

  35. You look so good in white pants, I have never worn them at all as I don’t think I am slim enough. I am quite confused about what sort of trousers to wear, I am only 5′ 2″ and have short not so slim legs, I was told that bootcut are a good idea for me, which is fine if worn with higher heels, but like you I don’t wear daytime. I don’t like baggy trousers I do wear leggings around home, but feel I would like some smarter but straight trousers (not quite so fitted as leggings) I am nearly 72 and live in England, style do you recommend.

  36. Susan,
    Thank you for this series, “Better On The Hanger”. At 62 you would think I’d know some of these basic dressing rules, but I don’t. I would appreciate more instructions like this and on choosing clothes for your shape and skin type, especially now that I have transitioned from the working world to retirement.
    Thank you again for your very informative blog.
    Laura

    1. I am working on a wardrobe planner for my retirement now. Stay tuned! I am starting this project a few years early so that when the time comes, I will have what I need and nothing more.

  37. Thank you for your post. It is helpful to me. I have gained weight, seven visits to the Hospital, since May. One infection after another! When I feel better I will work getting my health back and dropping weight. I love longer tops but I have noticed what you said. Once again for your post.

  38. Thank you for your advise. I’m 5’ 7” and 71. I worked professionally as a medial office manager. I had to stop working due to cancer when I was 52. Since retiring I have really struggled to fine myself stylewise. I no longer have to up everyday and as you said my body has changed. Clothes that used to look good I don’t feel comfortable in. I have been wear oversized tops and end up feeling frumpy or sloppy. I am going to reevaluate tops I buy on your advise. Thank you so much!

  39. I love your insights about the advantages and disadvantages of tunics, especially with light pants. I also put clothes that don’t work anymore in the donation bin and do better shopping with a plan. I look forward to learning more from you.

  40. The model has a perfect body and she looks amazing in both versions but better with the short one. Unfortunately it does not work for everyone, specially with big hips.

  41. Best styling blog ever. I am 76 & have been through the stages you are going through. You are right on! We weight the same but I have very slim legs with big boobs, full waist. I hate jeans with the yoke above my butt. It makes bumps under tops. I need recommendations for med weight denim slim leg pants that have a larger waist.

  42. My pear shaped, very old lady body needs different clothing. I have long legs, a short waist, and a small narrow bust.
    I am sooo confused any suggestions?

    1. Look for clothing designed with all the details at the shoulders and the bust (colors, patterns, lines, ruffle features, etc.) Your tops should never be tucked in, but you can use a belt over tops to cinch in your waist at a lower than natural waistline point. Wear dark slacks and A-line skirts that skim your body.

  43. I like the flowy blousy look next to the uptight straight and tight lines of the other model’s outfit (even though she’s lovely). People move in clothes. So, a blousy look is not as boring as a one shot photo may appear it to be.

  44. I’m 56 and overweight (working on that). Not exactly petite all over, but find that petite sizes often fit better in pants if the legs aren’t too short. All that to say that the insight about making legs look shorter with long tops is something I haven’t thought about but realize I am doing! Knowing I can still were my long tops with similarly colored pants for a better look helps! Thanks for the tip!

  45. I so appreciate your comparison of outfits in this series. I, too, am an inverted-t shape and 5’7”. Since I consider myself rather tall, I really hadn’t considered how certain jackets with front, top pockets looked on me until I re-evaluated how they looked on me because of your blog. It makes sense that I used to naturally would gravitate to slim-lined jackets that didn’t hit too long. I am short wasted and some didn’t flatter me if they had too much fabric or were belted. Thanks again for your tips.

  46. Love your style can’t believe I came across this site have seen a lot of things I would live to wear and great idea’s how to put the outfit to Heather so trendiest

  47. This model, active beauty Susan has been a great inspiration in all her photos and ideas. Thanks to her…I now look better!

  48. I am 82 petite not over weight, love tailored, casual clothes. But nothing looks good on me. My hair is white, straight and full. Help.

  49. Am i not seeing this correctly? I think the woman looks thinner in the long tunic as apposed to the shorter top (blk top w/white pants). Is the goal to look slimmer or to have longer looking legs? Personslly, i always want to look slimmer!

  50. You made me think about the fact that I have lots of tunic tops. I am 5ft. and a little heavier around the middle than I should be. Was not thinking how those tops are cutting my legs off!!!!Thank you for pointing that out.

  51. Your reasoning is so truthful.My knees now look like bagels,and I have shrunk from 5ft4in.down to 5ft 1 in. I love bright colours but is there a time,I’m 72,when I need to tone down.

  52. I’ve been looking at your wonderful pictures for a while now…..looking not reading. Lol. Big mistake. So now that I’ve “learned to read” I’m fascinated with the whys and wherefore of your choices. This is so helpful as I continue my journey waaay past 50. Thank you so much!
    Katie

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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