When someone asks you if you know how to tuck in shirts, you say “Yes”, right? Of course, you do, because most men know how to do it. But little do you know that there’s a proper way to tuck a shirt in! Hell, there are even different styles for tucking it in.
You might have that expensive, well-designed dress shirt but not knowing how to tuck it right would make you look like a slob. Read on and let’s get you up to speed on the business of tucking in your clothes.
When Should a Shirt Be Tucked In?
Not every piece of clothing can and should be tucked in. You should consider three things when deciding whether to tuck or untuck a shirt. Although you are allowed to break the rules and experiment, it is better to learn the basics first.
First, identify what type of shirt you are wearing. The general rule is that tops with short and flat bottoms should be left untucked. Meanwhile, those with uneven hems or tails should be tucked. The tail or shirttail is the part of the shirt that extends below your waist, especially in the back.
Second, know the fit of the shirt. Is it loose? If yes, then it is better to leave it untucked. If it has a tapered or slim fit, it is advisable to tuck it in. If the shirttail covers your butt and goes past your crotch area, it should also be tucked in.
Lastly, determine the occasion. If you are going to a formal gathering, you should tuck your shirt unless it is designed to be left untucked.
What Types of Shirts Are Designed for Tucking In?
Aside from the dress shirts you wear at the office, there are different kinds of shirts that can be tucked in. In this section, we will discuss what these are. You’ll thank us later for all the great choices.
These can be worn tucked or untucked depending on your preference and style. For a more formal and crisp look, you can tuck it in and pair it with the standard coat, slacks, leather belt, and dress shoes. You can also leave it untucked for a more casual look.
This is the classic Steve Jobs look. You should tuck these in when layered with blazers or sports jackets. These can be left untucked when worn on their own.
You can wear these tucked or untucked. Feeling preppy? Tuck these in for a dressier look, similar to what golfers do.
Long or Short-sleeved Casual Shirts
Except for Hawaiian shirts which should always be left untucked, these can be worn tucked or untucked depending on the event. If you’re just having a night out with friends, then you can leave it untucked. Tuck it in if you’re going to a special occasion.
Business and Dress Shirts
You’ll be mostly using these for formal occasions so it’s best to leave these tucked.
Ground Rules of a Well-tucked Shirt
In order to be able to tuck your shirt right, you must first understand what to look for in a well-tucked shirt. Recognizing what to look for in a well-tucked shirt will not only make you look clean and presentable, it also shows you are refined. You wouldn’t want to look sleazy when facing that job interview or when meeting your date, right? Here are some basics for a well-tucked shirt.
You want a top with tails that exceed at least three inches below your belt line as it has better chances of staying tucked and neat.
In order to look polished, the shirt placket or the part of where the buttons are, belt buckle, and front seam of your pants must be perfectly aligned at the center.
No Excess Fabric
Your top must have no excess material hanging when it is tucked as this ruins your look. If this is the case, then have your shirt tailored or buy a new one that fits you right.
What Is the Proper Way to Tuck in a Shirt?
When tucking your top, you want to be able to do it properly to look sharp. Here is the proper way to tuck that nice dress shirt of yours.
First, you must have the right fit. It can make or break your look. If there is a “muffin top” or excess fabric hanging, similar to how a chef’s hat looks, then your shirt is too big. If the shirt hem doesn’t reach your butt, then it is too short and it won’t stay tucked. A good tuck makes the front of your body smooth and flat so make sure that your shirt fits you right.
Next, you must stuff the shirttail into your pants. Third, if your pants have a French fly or waist stay, make sure to button them. The French fly is a hidden extra closure with a fastener attached to an interior belt. This is located beside the main button in your pants. Lastly, pull your pants up, secure them, and make sure that your shirt is tucked properly by checking the mirror. Voila!
Types of Shirt Tuck
Not everyone tucks their shirts the same way but everybody has the same goal of looking clean and presentable. Who knew that there are different ways to tuck it in? In this section, we will teach you the different types of shirt tuck.
The Basic Trouser Tuck
This is the most common and basic tuck and where most men start their shirt-tucking education. Your father probably even taught this to you. Part of looking tailored for work or a formal occasion is learning this basic tuck.
Let’s go through how it’s done. Shirttails are placed above the underwear and tucked inside the trousers. To do this, first put your underwear on, then put on your shirt and button it up. Next, pull your pants up, and secure them closed over your shirttails. Finally, even up your shirt by pulling at the pieces. It’s that easy.
The pro is that this is easy to do. The con is that your shirt might be easily untucked.
If you are in a rush and don’t want to think, then this is for you. An additional tip is to do this for a tailed look with a mid or high-waisted bottom and slim-fit top. Don’t do this with low-waist pants or trousers. Be warned though as this only works well with a good-fitting shirt. For your baggy one? You’ll need to do something like this next one.
The Military Tuck
It is called the Military Tuck as it is taught to the armed forces. Although there are a number of varieties for this, the basic principle is the same. This is a good trick to do when there is excess fabric around the waist and sides of the shirt. This happens when your shirt fits you larger.
How do you do this? First, have your pants on but leave them unbuttoned. You then pinch each of the shirt’s side seams and stretch them to the side. Fold the seams backward to create a pleat that folds over any loose fabric in the sides. Lastly, button your pants up and belt them so that the pleats fall flat against your body. You can use a leather belt to make sure that your pants will hold your shirt tuck. It also makes you look polished for attending formal occasions.
This works well with stiff, smooth fabrics that can hold the crease well. Most kinds of dress shirts and Oxford shirts will work well with the Military Tuck. On the other hand, linen clothes, polos, and t-shirts might be untucked easily.
This method takes time to practice but once you’ve got the hang of it, you won’t look back. You can experiment by performing the Military Tuck with different kinds of clothes in front of a mirror during your free time. This way you’ll be sure of what works with it.
The Underwear Tuck
This is a polarizing topic but it’s not so bad. It doesn’t require you to tuck your outer shirt in your underwear. The exposed underwear, when you pick up a pen from the floor, would be disastrous. This technique involves tucking your undershirt in your underwear. Some do it while some don’t, depending on how comfortable they are with extra fabric in there.
This is ideal for those of you who wear an undershirt. If you don’t, you can do the first two kinds of shirt tuck above. What you need to do is stuff your undershirt in your underwear. Meanwhile, your dress shirt stays outside your underwear but will remain tucked in your pants.
Why does this work? Instead of your trousers holding both your dress shirt and undershirt under a single tuck, your underwear eliminates the additional stress from your pants by holding your undershirt.
There are drawbacks to this though. If your undershirt is too long or too wide, your underwear might get too crowded which may be uncomfortable. Worse is if you’re wearing briefs, there might not be enough room for your undershirt. You should wear an undershirt with the right fit and wear boxer shorts instead of briefs if you are going for this kind of tuck.
What to Tuck and What Not to Tuck
Now that you know the different ways of tucking your shirt, let’s educate you on what you should and shouldn’t tuck. There are times when you can break the rules but this should be a general rule for you to follow.
Shirts to Keep Tucked
The dress shirt is a buttoned-up shirt with a collar and long sleeves. It has wrist cuffs where you can use cufflinks, as needed. These are usually made of cotton and come in a range of colors generally kept to the more traditional tones.
You can use dress shirts for formal events, special occasions, or if required by your profession. You can wear these tucked in, with slacks and a necktie, if needed. You will also need dress shoes to go with it.
If you want to be more playful, you can incorporate different colors or patterned dress shirts into your wardrobe to appear more casual. You can also roll up your sleeves if the dress code allows you to. Some men even wear patterned socks to add a hint of color.
Oxford Cloth Button-downs
Oxford cloth button-downs, also known as Oxford dress shirts, are the dress shirts for dressing down and semi-formal occasions. Its fabric is thicker, and almost always features a criss-cross pattern.
The Oxford shirt is extremely versatile as you can wear it in various situations, even for the office. You can layer this with a suit for more formal settings if you’ve got the right fashion sense. If you’re attending something less formal, you can pair it up with khakis to look casual.
Also known as a polo shirt, this is a form of a shirt with a collar, a placket neckline with two or three buttons, and an optional pocket. It is usually made of knitted cotton. Originally used by polo players in the past, you can either wear this tucked in for a more formal look or tucked out for a more casual look.
Pair this with slacks, khakis, or jeans depending on how formal the look you are going for. This can be worn with penny loafers or even your favorite sneakers if you are going for a dressed-down look.
A short-sleeved button-up is a shirt that has a placket encompassing the front of the body all the way. It has a collar, short sleeves, and usually a woven cotton material. You can wear this on hot days when long sleeves are too uncomfortable.
Although not made for formal occasions, you can tuck the shirt in your khakis for a more dressed-up look. For casual days, you can leave it untucked. You can also wear the button-up with khaki shorts for a laid-back look. Sneakers are also a good option when choosing your footwear.
Also known as the lumberjack shirt, the flannel is a long-sleeved shirt, made of soft-woven fabric, typically wool or cotton. It has a plaid pattern, which is its distinguishing characteristic.
You should tuck it in if you plan on layering it with a sweater, leather jacket, or blazer. If you plan to wear a t-shirt under your flannel shirt, it will look better untucked and unbuttoned. You can pair this with sneakers for a casual look or boots for a more dressed-up look.
Chambray is a relatively lightweight cotton fabric that appears to be similar to denim. The difference though is that denim is thicker and has heavier weaving. Due to its lightness, you can wear chambray in all seasons and use it for layering.
Tuck it in, then layer it together with a sports jacket, colored trousers, and some topsiders for a cool vibe. You can also wear a chambray shirt instead of a cardigan over your favorite t-shirt then combine it with khakis and your staple white sneakers to get that casual look.
Linen is a light yet extremely strong fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. An ideal shirt for spring and summer, it is lightweight, soft, highly breathable, and naturally crumpled.
As a general rule, linen shirts should be tucked in your pants for formal occasions. You must keep the sleeves rolled down except for casual events or warm days. These can be paired with your blue denim jeans, chinos, or even shorts. You can layer it with a light blazer and wear it with loafers for a dressy look.
T-shirts and Short-sleeved Henleys
The t-shirt is the most basic shirt of all. A t-shirt is a short-sleeved casual top, usually made of cotton. You can wear it with chinos or denim jeans. Tuck it in and layer with your blazer then pair it up with penny loafers for a dressed-up look.
Meanwhile, the henley shirt is a casual top with a scoop neck and a short row of buttons in the center of the neckline. Henleys are similar to t-shirts in use although a bit more elevated due to their style. You can tuck this in when layering with a sports jacket or blazer.
Shirts to Keep Untucked
Jackets and Hoodies
The jacket is an outer garment extending to the hips with long sleeves and a fastening down the front of your body. You wear this over your shirt as a layer so you don’t need to tuck this in. Jackets are versatile. These are usually paired with formal wear such as your dress shirts but can also be layered with t-shirts for a more casual look.
Meanwhile, the hoodie is a hooded sweatshirt, jacket, or top. Hoodies are more casual and can be paired with your t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Thus, you should also leave your hoodie untucked.
The cardigan is a typically long-sleeved knitted sweater fastening down the front. It is mostly used for casual styles but you can also wear this at work. A smart casual look can be achieved by layering this over your Oxford shirt and chinos. Since this is also an outer garment, you should leave this untucked.
The polo shirt can be untucked for a more casual style. You can pair this up with denim jeans, khakis, and chinos. To finish the laidback look, you can wear this with sneakers. If you’re going for preppy, wear your polo with slim-fit shorts and topsiders.
T-shirts and Henleys
Your t-shirts and henleys should be left untucked most of the time if you will be wearing these casually. For t-shirts, these come in a lot of varieties you can choose, from slim-fitting shirts to oversized tees. This means you can pick the fit which would best complement your body type. Pair these with your jeans and favorite sneakers, then layer with your favorite hoodie. For henleys, you can do the same as well. You can even wear these with shorts.
Oxford Cloth Button-downs
For your Oxford shirts, you can wear these untucked when going for a more casual look. Going to the bar? You should leave your shirt untucked. Pair these with jeans or khakis and sneakers for your footwear. If you want to look relaxed, you can also wear these with shorts and topsiders. There are lots of options for your Oxford shirts.
Tropical Print i.e. Hawaiian shirts
Also known as the “Aloha shirt”, the Hawaiian shirt is a style that originated from Hawaii. These are short-sleeved, collared, and buttoned dress shirts printed with floral patterns. You can wear these for casual or smart casual events. Mix and match these with khaki shorts or board shorts. Please don’t tuck these in as you will look absurd.
You can wear these untucked for a dressed-down look. Wear these together with khakis or jeans on a smart casual Friday and pair them with your topsiders or sneakers. For a laidback style, you can wear these untucked with shorts as well.
How to Keep Your Shirt Tucked in
Isn’t it annoying when your shirt keeps getting untucked and you have to tuck it in again? Don’t worry, here are some tips you can follow to keep your shirt neatly tucked in.
To keep your shirt tucked, always make sure that you have a well-fitting dress shirt. This will stay tucked as it has fewer chances of forming a muffin top compared to a loose-fitting shirt.
Moreover, buy pants that have rubberized tape on the insides of the waistbands. If your trousers don’t have these, you can also have them sewn or added by a tailor. Other device hacks you can use are shirt locks, Magnetucks, Tukz, shirt grippers, and shirt stays.
One of the best ways to keep your shirt tucked is with shirt stays. Shirt stays are rubber straps that have clips holding the bottom hem of your shirt. They are elongated and attached to your socks or the bottom of your foot. The tension allows movement, but also continually pulling the shirttails downward, keeping your shirt tucked in.
There are different varieties of shirt stays such as the straight, the stirrup, and the y-style. All of these will help your shirt stay tucked and neat.
Why It’s Better to Keep Your Shirt Tucked in for Formal Events
On specific occasions such as formal events, wearing an untucked shirt could come off as unprofessional. The outfit might look good regardless of the dress code, but dressing according to the occasion should be your goal. It shows that you respect the event and other people who are attending. You wouldn’t want others to disrespect your wedding, right?
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Tuck In T-shirts
Often, we get some questions on the proper attire. We got you. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about tucking in your shirt.
Do I need a belt for my pants when tucking in my shirt?
Most of the time yes, especially when your shirt is tucked and your pants are slacks or of the formal kind. You’re better off if it’s a leather belt with a buckle. If you’re wearing jeans, you can get away without wearing a belt.
How do I know if the shirt fits me right?
This is so important as the fit makes or breaks your look. For dress shirts, the collar should touch the skin all the way around your neck but shouldn’t press around it. You should be able to slip two fingers in between your neck and collar. The shoulder points must also sit perfectly at the edge of your shoulders. It shouldn’t be too tight nor too loose.
For the torso, the placket must rest lightly against the midpoint of your ribcage. There should be no billowing, if too loose, or stretching, if too tight. The sleeves must also have a smooth, even taper around your arms.
Finally, the proper shirt length must end a few inches below your beltline, allowing your shirt to stay tucked even when you raise your arms.
For t-shirts, the proper fit can vary from muscle tees to oversized shirts. Find the best one that suits your body and style.
Can I do a half or front tuck?
The half tuck involves having the left or right side of your shirt tucked while the opposite side is untucked. The front tuck, as the name suggests, requires having the front hem of your shirt tucked while leaving the tail untucked. These styles of tuck are hip and cool but you should reserve them for casual days. Doing a half tuck at work will make you look unprofessional.
A Final Word From The Trending Man
Kanye West might be able to get away from breaking style and etiquette rules but until you’re filthy rich and you’re a popular personality, know the rules when it comes to tucking or untucking your shirt. Besides, you’ll avoid cringing when you look back at your old pictures. You’ll thank yourself years from now that you followed the dress code. Always keep it classy.