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Fashion Challenge: Wear a Tutu


Celebrities wearing tutus - Lauren Conrad, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and blogger Rumi in a tutu-esque dress

Here at College Fashion, we’re big fans of pushing boundaries and making statements with what we wear. However, I’m sure we can all agree that there’s a fine line between looking quirky and looking crazy.

Tutus (to clarify, when we say tutus, we’re referring to both ballet-specific skirts and fluffy tulle skirts not intended for ballet) are fun, a bit unexpected, and a girly way to make a statement. But they can also be hard to pull off, as history has shown us. We all remember Lara Flynn Boyle channeling a ballerina on the red carpet:

Lara Flynn Boyle in a tutu

For the record, I actually thought Lara looked playful and fun in her tutu, but others had some not-so-nice opinions on the statement she made.

An equally iconic but more well-received tutu was included in the opening credits of Sex and the City:

Carrie Bradshaw in a tutu

I might be the only girl in the world who is not a fan of Carrie Bradshaw (I know, I know), but even I’ve got to hand it to her: She pulls off this tutu beautifully.

Finally, tutus have also been in the spotlight recently due to a little Oscar-winning film known as Black Swan.


Although the preceding tutu looks are notable, they don’t demonstrate how to pull off a tutu in the real world. Don’t worry, though, it’s a lot easier than you think to wear a tutu without looking like you’re crazy or wearing a costume. Read on to learn how to rock a tutu, then take some photos and send them in to inspire other CF readers!

Tips and Tricks for Wearing a Tutu

  • Unless it’s Halloween, don’t pair anything tutu-like with a wrap sweater, leotard, leg warmers, or a bun – these items will make your ensemble look costume-y.
  • Contrasting textures look great with tulle. Fabrics like leather, denim, or suede will keep your outfit from looking too girly.
  • Speaking of girly, a tutu paired with lace or sequins could be overwhelming. So keep the rest of your outfit toned down, and let your skirt have all the attention.
  • Because tutu skirts are voluminous, they generally look best paired with fitted tops. Add a cropped jacket for a super chic look.
  • An authentic ballet tutu might be hard to find, so try looking for a tulle skirt or dress. It’ll give you the tutu look without being too extreme.
  • Shoes, as always, are an important part of your look. I love how ankle boots and spike-y stilettos look with full skirts like tutus. For a really daring look, try wearing a tutu with combat boots or even Converse All Stars!
  • Chunky jewelry will toughen up the look of a tutu. Try a statement necklace or a cocktail ring.
  • Remember that this look is supposed to be playful and quirky. Rock it with confidence and you’ll be sure to look amazing!

Outfit Inspiration

How to wear a tutu with a striped shirt and jacket
Jacket, Tutu, Shirt, Boots, Ring, Necklace

A frilly tiered tutu skirt is toned down when paired with a striped shirt and simple denim jacket. Low-heeled combat boots give the outfit a street-chic vibe reminiscent of British style. Finish with a turquoise ring and this funky faux pearl necklace.

how to wear a tutu skirt
Tulle Skirt, Blazer, Shirt, Necklace, Stilettos, Ring

A delicate pink tulle skirt like this one looks perfect with a white t-shirt tucked into it. Next, a boyfriend blazer and a badass pair of stilettos contrast nicely with the girlishness of the skirt. Finish with a chunky necklace and ring.

Took the Challenge? Send Us Your Photos!

Did you wear a tutu (or tutu-esque skirt/dress) this week? Before you change clothes, take a couple snapshots and send them to fashionchallenge AT along with your name, college, a description of what you’re wearing, and the URL of your blog if you have one. We’ll feature your photos here to inspire other readers.

We can’t see what you girls come up with!

What Do You Think?

Do you own a tutu? If so, how do you like to wear it? Do you think tutus are OK for casual wear, or are they too costume-y for your taste? Also, what other pieces have you had trouble styling? We may feature your idea in our next Fashion Challenge post! Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

Posted on on March 10, 2011 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , ,

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33 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Wear a Tutu”

  1. 1
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I’m not at all a fan of the first, more extreme version of the tutu outfit, but I really like the second softer, toned-down version. The pink tulle skirt looks far easier to wear than the black mesh. Also in the spirit of outfit coherence I don’t think I’d like to see a tutu paired with denim and army boots – the white shirt and polished blazer makes a far better pairing without being too sugary.

  2. 2
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    And I really like Lauren Conrad and Taylor Swift’s tutu outfits – especially Lauren’s. The black lace is both girly and edgy enough to complement the ballerina look perfectly.

  3. 3
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I love second outfit! Too cute! Great job! How might I be able to wear something like that in a conservative environment? Any ideas? Thanks, this is an excellent post!

  4. 4
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I have a white tutu-like skirt I got a year and a half ago. It’s so simple and flattering, I want to wear it with everything! Pairing it with a fitted tee and a cardigan brings the perfect balance of dressy and laid back. I can wear it with Converses and add an edge I totally love, or I can wear it with black tights and black knee high boots for extra sophistication. It’s so versatile, I’d never trade it for anything!

  5. 5
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I really like the way Taylor Swift wore a tutu. I think I wouldn’t wear a tutu, but a tutu skirt (meaning a tutu skirt in a dress – like Hailee Steinfeld’s gown at the Oscars, or Oliva Wilde’s at the Golden Globes) I would wear in a heartbeat.

  6. 6
    March 10th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I used to wear a tutu when I did ballet but not now anymore so I am not really a tutu person lol. It would look wrong on me.

  7. 7
    March 10th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I love the inspiration photos. I like Lauren Conrad’s outfit and adore Taylor Swift’s outfit. I would love a dress like the one in the last photo to wear to all my end-of-the-year banquets and formal. I really like both of the outfits too!

    Does anyone know where I can get a dress like the one in the last photo?

  8. 8
    March 10th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I love these pictures. Sex and the City made tutus iconic because it looked good, whereas Lara Flynn Boyle paired with the shoes which don’t balance it out well – they just make it look more like a costume.

    The outfit photos at the bottom are really good too! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. 9
    March 10th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Seriously love this post and the outfits you’ve posted.
    I am a huge tutu fan- they make everything seem so girly and feminine.
    I love to pair them with biker boots or a military jacket for a contrast.
    Great advice :]]

    Charlotte xxx

  10. 10
    March 10th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I actually wore the second outfit for my birthday in September. I don’t know that I have any of the pictures (long story), though. It was an H&M outfit – pink layered tulle skirt, black blazer, white tank. Wore it with black studded strappy heels, diamond studs, a rhinestone clustered ring, and a rhinestone hinged cuff bracelet.

  11. 11
    March 10th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I have a rather full black tutu which I style quite often, and I totally agree that the key is to make sure that the rest of your outfit isn’t too girly. My favorite such outfit involves the black tutu, a fitted red flannel shirt, black tights, and black oxfords with pink and red striped chunky socks poking out. It sounds like a lot, but I think the bold colors rise to the occassion of the bold tutu.

  12. 12
    March 10th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I like the concept of a tutu skirt, however, as I already look young for my age, I feel it would just make me look like a little kid for everyday wear. The only time I would ever feel comfortable wearing a tutu (other than for dance) is as a costume or if I wanted to dress up super-spirited for a sporting event. Let’s just say I have a legit ballet tutu in my sorority’s color that I’m considering wearing to Greek Week sporting events lol ;D

  13. 13
    March 10th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    love this. I bought a tiered tutu style skirt from Rue21 a few weeks ago and haven’t worn it yet hopefully this will give me some inspiration once it gets a little warmer.

  14. 14
    March 10th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Carrie Bradshaw may be able to pull off a tutu but it can’t distract us from the fact that SJP’s face looks like a foot.

  15. 15
    March 10th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I have that whole Lauren Conrad outfit – the cardigan and skirt (in two colors). So, yes, I’m a fan of the style!

  16. 16
    March 10th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    i like
    just ad a leather jacket to balance edgy and femme

  17. 17
    March 10th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Paige, I don’t mean to call you out, but I think that’s a really rude thing to say. SJP may not be reading this, but she is a real person. I read an article awhile ago about how hurt she and her husband were when she was voted ugliest woman by some dumb man mag. Please try to remember when making comments like that that celebrities are real people too!

  18. 18
    March 10th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    These tips are great!! A tutu is something I have always seen on fabulous ladies like SJP but never been brave enough to wear myself. but theyre so fun and girly!

  19. 19
    March 10th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Oh wow! This is funny since today I just wore a blush colored sheer ruffle dress (like the bottom of Taylor Swift’s in her picture, but a black drawstring waist and a ruffle along the neckline.) from Target with a black blazer, a long pearl necklace, black opaque tights, and black high heeled oxfords. This was my outfit for work today! I didn’t think that it was tutu-styled. Either way, I love this look.

  20. 20
    March 10th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Love the second one !

  21. 21
    March 10th, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Am I the only one thinking that I can’t really call these skirts tutus? Because really, to me they’re just skirts. Floaty, tiered skirts but skirts nonetheless. A real tutu (to me) is the extremely poofy, traditional sense of tutus. Ah well.

  22. 22
    March 10th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    @ Paige, I still laughed…but…
    …@ Shaina, I guess you’re right…except that SJP has CHOSEN to be in the public eye and sometimes you end up on the “worst dressed” page. That’s life.

    I like the skirt idea, already have a black one.

  23. 23
    March 11th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I love tutu/tulle skirts, they’re so feminine and girly! I’m hoping to get a few for my birthday soon! :) I like the more subtle ones, but I love the more fluffy dramatic ones a little more!

  24. 24
    March 12th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I really like the black tutu with the striped shirt because it’s more my style. Hoping to find something like that! And I kind of agree with Paige, even if the way she put it was kind of mean. SJP is really not that great looking and that may be the reason I feel like her outfits don’t look all that great on her either..

  25. 25
    March 12th, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thanks for the feedback girls! @Katie, the brown tulle dress in the photo worn by Rumi Neely is Lanvin for H&M. It was released last November-ish, so you should still be able to find it on eBay perhaps!

  26. 26
    March 13th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for giving Rumi Neely a spot! Anyway, her outfit is pretty much the only one I like. For some reason, I don’t like tulle skirts and tutus unless they’re on the dance floor, or on formal dresses. Essentially, I don’t like casual tutus.

  27. 27
    March 19th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My closet is full of tulle stuff. I’m not preppy or girly but tutus can influence my style. Paired up with chunky accessories, killer heels or converse can put more of my personality in it. I sometimes add jeans underneath.

    Or for a nighttime party look I add a cute top or go for a tulle dress and switch up the jeans and chunky accesories for more delicate pieces and fishnet leggings.

    (: <3

  28. 28
    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Not sure how I missed this post! When I go to work everyday I make tutus, and while I don’t consider the examples traditional tutus, they are cute. There are so many options for tutus and each style has it’s own feel – long for a romantic look, short and dark for an edgy look, bustle for a sexy look and so on. I’m biased, but I love tutus and I think they’re a great way to play with color and style without breaking the bank.

  29. 29
    April 8th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Tutus are sooo much fun and can have so many looks!! My girls and my granddaughter all dance.. I recently made a tutu for my grandaughter and everyone loved it; so I started a business called Tutu You (you can find us on FB). I have had so much fun designing tutus, the possibilities are endless from girly- girly to not so girly… they are always beautiful and fun!

  30. 30
    August 16th, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I love wearing tutus! Tutu Spirit has THE BEST selection. I have lots of fun girl colors- but the team colors are really fun for football games! I get tons of compliments! Love them!!

  31. 31
    February 24th, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Thanks for the ideas. I sell tutus on Etsy, and I’m going to share your blog on my Facebook page – Poof Tutus if you want to check it out. I’m also planning to wear one of my tutus to a special party soon, so I am very grateful for the suggestions.

  32. 32
    March 19th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I think, there is no need to “put down” this romantic skirt with a help of grunge boots and leather jackets. Lets play it sweat, like Nicole Kidman did in the Bewitched, pairing creamy-rosy skirt with a soft light-blue jacket. ballerina shoews and romantic curly hair updo. This style of hers get very popular, and many young women on the Internet wrote, that they would like to buy and wear the same clothes.

  33. 33
    July 12th, 2014 at 6:39 am

    @Laura – This may be old and you may not read this, however something someone posted made me so mad I just had to post a reply. What you’re basically saying is an actor purposely becomes a celebrity for the sole purpose of being put down. Am I right? So by your logic if they choose to live that sort of life then they deserve the bullying, something we would consider to be wrong if it happened to an average person like a child. Celebrities are human beings too. Nobody chooses to be called mean and rude names. Why don’t you post your photo for us to judge and I’ll be very honest. I won’t hold back. Promise!

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