Wearing a well-fitted shirt will certainly make you look like James Bond – suave and sophisticated. But how can you possibly get the shirt to look right each and every single time? 

There are some people that never seem to make a fashion faux pas. Trust us – they have, it just takes lots of practice! And when it comes to wearing shirts, one of the techniques you need to practice is the tuck, and when to do it.

The overall look of your outfit depends on whether you’re wearing the shirt alone or layered over a basic t-shirt, such as the Henley shirt from Fresh Clean Threads. You should adjust the types of tucks to match the rest of your outfit. 

There are some rules to master the art of the tuck, or the untuck for that matter. Read on to find out more!

A basic guideline

The basic guideline for tucking is the following:

  • If the shirt has a flat bottom hem, it’s a sign – a sign that it needs to be untucked!
  • If the shirt varies in length all the way around, then this is your signal to tuck it. In fact, it should always be tucked in! Though it isn’t really forbidden to wear this kind of shirt untucked, it can make your look appear immature, and that’s not the vibe we’re going for!

Types of shirts

According to the type of shirt, this should guide you into when you should or shouldn’t tuck. As we mentioned over, it’s easy to assume “it’s a shirt, it needs to be tucked”. There are cases where this rule really doesn’t apply.

  • Undershirts – An undershirt is lightweight, and can very easily be tucked in. That way, the different layers you may be wearing won’t poke out and will look very polished when tucked into your chosen pair of pants. 
  • Polo shirts – These can be tucked in or not according to your choice of pants. Some stylists recommend wearing them tucked into a pair of chinos or dressier pants. Polo shirts are a hassle-free option. If they come with pockets, they are acceptable in casual situations while those with no pockets are ideal for semi-formal and formal occasions.  
  • Printed shirts – No matter what print – Hawaiian, animal, abstract… do not, we repeat, do not tuck them in! Printed shirts are meant to be shown, and that means the hem has to be shown too! 
  • Overshirts – Overshirts are layering pieces that are thrown on over any of your outfits. They are already going over a shirt, a sweater or a t-shirt, so do not tuck them in! See the overshirt as a lighter alternative to a jacket, that way, no fashion faux pas are made!

Types of tucks

Now you know what to tuck in and not what to tuck in, let us explain to you the various types of tucks that exist:

  • The basic tuck – The one we all know and have done at some point in our lives. Zip down your pants. Then put the shirt inside your pants and zip them back up, and voilà! 
  • The underwear tuck – If you’re layering several pieces, then tuck your undershirt into your underwear. Then tuck your shirt into your chosen pair of pants, that way, you don’t have two pieces of slightly different lengths and fabrics tucked into your pants, and therefore could be popping out quite easily. 
  • The military tuck – Start to do the basic tuck, but straighten out any creases before grabbing fabric from both sides of the shirt. Fold these sides back on themselves for a more fitted look, and you’re good to go! 
  • The French tuck – There’s something effortlessly casual about the French tuck. It’s between a tuck and an untuck. It’s when your top is too loose to be tucked in or when a full tuck seems too conservative. Just lightly tuck into the front of your pants, and let your top slightly drape over the top.

Dress For the Occasion

Formal Events

Many stylists recommend choosing the type of tuck based on the occasion. If you’re aiming for a formal or even semi-formal look, it’s better to opt for the standard tuck. Keep in mind that wearing a polo shirt to a formal occasion is considered inappropriate. When picking an outfit for a corporate event or a birthday party, you should opt for the classic dress shirt. 

The dress shirt perfectly adheres to the formal dress code, as it gives you that instant put-together and sophisticated look. However, one of the most common style mistakes men tend to make is wearing a dress shirt untucked. In fact, an untucked dress shirt is considered as a violation of etiquette, which signals disrespectful behavior.

When attending a formal event, you are often expected to wear dress pants with a formal shirt tucked underneath. So, reserve the full tuck for an upscale lounge or a wedding party, as it will give you a classy look. 

Keeping It Casual

Casual settings let you enjoy lots of freedom with the untucked look. Some casual shirts that are worn untucked include t-shirts, guayaberas, and Hawaiian shirts, which are perfect for no-fuss, casual settings.

Yet, even with casual outfits, it’s important to keep in mind the fit of the shirt to achieve the right look. 

Let the fit of the shirt guide you – to achieve the tailored aesthetic, you must think about symmetry. Remember to tuck in shirts with uneven hems or visible tails that feature varying lengths throughout. This way, you’ll hide the pronounced tails for a suave look. 

When it comes to shorter hems and rests that look even, you can leave the shirt untucked. The flat bottom hem crafts a symmetrical look, no matter what you pair your shirt with!

Final Thoughts

Now you have mastered the art of the tuck, we can guarantee that all your outfits will be sleek. Once you consider the fit of the shirt and the occasion you will wear it to, you will figure out the right way to style it. So, say goodbye to fashion faux pas, and hello to a more sophisticated wardrobe!