Should I Tuck or Untuck My Shirt?



First of all, I wouldn’t say skinny jeans are out of fashion. I’d say other styles are rising in popularity and maybe getting most of the attention. But if you want to wear skinny jeans, you should feel free to do so in complete confidence that no one is going to shriek “Passé!” These days, it’s pretty much anything goes.

You are correct, however, in thinking that high-waist jeans, boyfriend jeans and even wide-leg culotte jeans are being talked up by everyone, Levi’s and Lucky Brand included. And you are also correct in thinking that whether you tuck or untuck is a question Hamlet may well have asked, had he not worn tunics and mourning cloaks.

After all, it’s partly about proportion, but it’s also about perception.

When it comes to proportion, remember: balance in jeans, as in all things. Skinny jeans look good with a looser, untucked top because the contrast doesn’t cut you in half. On the other hand, if the bottom is fuller — flared, loose, a culotte — you don’t want the bagginess of an untucked top because you will resemble a blob.

As the designer Michael Kors said when I called him for some advice, when it comes to the more relaxed jeans cuts, “it’s all about showing off the waist.” In fact, he suggested avoiding the tuck question entirely (sneaky guy) with “cropped T-shirts and sweaters,” which is very ’90s redux, or “a lightweight bodysuit worn with relaxed jeans and a sharply tailored blazer.”

Then remember that, historically, untucked shirts suggest a relaxed, off-duty attitude, while tucked-in symbolizes professionalism. Also uptightism. Somewhere in the back of everybody’s head is the memory of a parent’s voice telling them to “tuck in your shirt.” The sheer visual effect of the tuck — neatening the line, trapping the shirttails — is unavoidable.

Which brings me to the third way. Do not forget, as Michael suggested, the half tuck!

“Use a silk or cotton shirt and tuck the shirt in at the waist, at the center front,” he said. That gives you a way “to show off just the buckle of a great belt and the hint of a waistline, but covers up the back and the sides to give you a relaxed attitude.”

In other words: Have some cake and eat it too.

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.



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