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Should I tuck in my shirt or leave it out?

Should I tuck in my shirt or leave it out?

This is a question I was asked last week on a personal shopping trip  and one that I frequently get asked by clients. So in an attempt to make it easier for you, here I'm going to dissect it and go through some points to take into consideration when deciding to tuck or untuck.

What shape is the hem?

As a general rule......if it has a straight hem - leave it out, a steeply curved hem - tuck it in, and a gently curved hem - you can do either.  You can see the floral shirt below has a straight hem and is left out. This style will often have a camp collar (flattened open collar), short sleeves or if it's long sleeved it may be more of an overshirt style to be worn over a t-shirt.

YMC patterned shirt - should I tuck in my shirt or leave it out

Floral "Malick" shirt - YMC at Opumo - £135

How long is the shirt?

This is one of the key factors in deciding. To leave the shirt out, it shouldn't completely cover your bottom, or be longer than the end of the fly of your trousers/jeans at the front. If it's longer than this, then tuck it in.  The Oxford shirt below is just the right length to wear untucked.

The exception to this rule would be if it's a very obviously casual style shirt eg: a check flannel, which it's fashionable to wear oversized at the moment so it's likely it would be longer.

Ralph Lauren button down shirt - do I tuck my shirt in

Slim fit button down Oxford cotton shirt - Polo Ralph Lauren at End Clothing - £85 to £55

How formal is the collar?

Another thing to take into consideration is how formal the collar is. Does it have collar stiffeners? Tuck it in. Camp collar? Leave it out. Button down or grandad style collar? This can go either way depending on the formality of the rest of your outfit. You'll see from the Oxford button down shirt below, it's similar in style to the previous one and it looks good both ways - tucked in and out.

Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt - when should I tuck in my shirt

White custom cotton shirt - Polo Ralph Lauren at Harvey Nichols - £85

What else are you wearing?

If you're wearing a smart, structured formal suit with a tie, then I hope it goes without saying to tuck it in! If you're wearing an unstructured suit in a casual fabric like cotton, linen or seersucker, with trainers or casual loafers then potentially you could leave it out.

If you're wearing jeans, brogues and a blazer then you're probably going for a smarter look and I'd suggest tucking in. Jeans, trainers and a bomber jacket? You're more likely to wear it left untucked for a more casual look.

With a printed shirt like the one below, he has on formal trousers and smart shoes, and could easily add a blazer, so it looks better tucked in. If he was wearing the same shirt with chinos and trainers then it's just about short enough that it could be left out.

Paul Smith shirt - do I have to tuck my shirt in

Floral print white cotton shirt - Paul Smith at Harvey Nichols - £215

What's the fabric and pattern like?

Although the overriding factor is the length, if you're still not sure then look at the fabric. On their website, the one below is shown left out but I think perhaps this is to demonstrate the length/finish rather than a suggestion of how to style it. Because it's in a smooth, plain cotton poplin and is a slightly longer length, I would advise to tuck it in.

If it had a print like the previous floral one, or was in a chambray fabric or a check flannel, they're more casual fabrics which would suggest you can wear it untucked for a more relaxed look.

Joseph poplin shirt - tucked vs untucked shirts

Poplin "John" shirt - Joseph - £160

Need help putting outfits together from your current wardrobe? Have a look at my Wardrobe Edits page to see how it works and contact me below if you'd like to find out more:

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"Sarah did a personal shopping session with me & I was very happy with how everything went. Cannot fault any aspect of the experience, & am delighted to have ended the day feeling comfortable wearing a whole bunch of stuff I would have walked straight past in a shop because it wasn't a boring garment in a boring colour."

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