Tucking In Your Shirt: How To Do It

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Is your shirt bunching up around your sides? Master the art of tucking in your favourite shirt within minutes with our handy guide.

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Whilst the basic rules of fitting are essential, the rules of tucking remain essentially ignored. It’s mainly because we know way too much about collar type variations and so very little about proper tucking. Let’s face it, when it comes to sharp-dressing, we care scarcely for sartorial nuances instead of practical endeavors. Is this wise? You know the answer yourself.

In order to minimise the discomfort of fiddly little lines and finally smooth out stubborn wrinkles from your cherished garment, we have to not only understand the difference between an untucked dress shirt and a tucked one, but also learn the expert-backed recommendations of tailored tucking.

Here’s what every man, regardless of his age and lifestyle, needs to know about tucking in his shirt.

Good Tucks

Tucking in your shirt has a beneficial effect on quality of your life and career. According to Fruit of the Loom survey results, men who regularly tuck their shirts in are living happier, more successful life. It has been reported, that tuckers are 22% more likely to say they’re optimistic about the future, they also indicate a 19% higher income than non-tuckers.

Whatever you make of these statistics, the seemingly tedious task of tucking is one that will serve you well. Whenever you sit down, reach for something or do anything besides standing around, a good tuck will never untuck, if you know a few helpful tricks.

Dress Shirt Tucked-In - SHOP: Formal Shirts
Tucked in Shirts from The Idle Man | SHOP: Smart Shirts

The Basic Trouser Tuck

Even thought the basic trouser tuck is the most common way to tuck your dress shirt without breaking a sweat, it still requires a brief explanation. Shirttail goes inside the trousers but above the underpants, shoved straight down all the way around the waist.

A less basic version of the same favoured approach lies in tucking the shirt in fully and then slowly untucking it, until about a one-inch swath of cloth is available. Fold the swath carefully over your belt, leaving an even overhang around the waistline in attempt to create an easy-going look.

Check out this video from GQ which shows you exactly how to effortlessly execute the ‘basic trouser tuck’.

The Military Tuck

One should feel silly for even doubting the military tuck routine. This method is good enough to hide away excess fabric in army uniforms, never mind loose fitting shirts. The military tuck is ideal for tucking a shirt into jeans too. It creates a pair of folded pleats, which are then pinned flat by the waist. Just follow the instructions.

Photo Credit: Mens Health
Photo Credit: Mens Health

Firstly, you have to pinch each of the shirt’s side seams (generally 2-4 inches) between a thumb and forefinger and pull tight to collect the excess fabric. The next thing you should do is to hold the seams backward toward your rear end to create a pleat that will fold over any loose fabric in the sides. The folds should sit somewhere behind your hips. Use enough pressure to pull the shirt front smooth and taut across the front of your chest. Finally, button up your trousers and belt them to hold the pleats flat against your body.

The Underwear Tuck

The underwear tuck has nothing to do with tucking your shirt inside your trunks. In fact, it is layer-on-layer system, logical and interrelated: underwear-undershirt-shirt-pants. To become a guru of underwear tuck, you should slip your undershirt into your underwear and then tuck your regular shirt into your trousers as you normally do. Now, you’re done.

Shirt Stays

However you look at it, “shirt stays” is an elaborate ritual, oftentimes regarded as radical, if radical is the new normal. All you need to do is to clip the tips of your shirt tails to your socks using a pair of small, elasticized garters. Pretend to tie your shoelaces and see if the shirt actually stays. Adjust your flexible buckles until you no longer feel stiff or rigid. This method is more appropriate for special occasions, like themed events, fancy weddings, Gala awards.

The Preppy Tuck

In reality, the preppy tuck is a deliberate half-tuck, which has been approved by Ralph Lauren himself. Pull your polo shirt tails from the chinos little by little to create wavy-looking lines. No large buckle belts allowed. The preppy tuck is perfect for the casual weekend.

Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren |SHOP: Polo Shirts

Side Tuck

No front or back involved, side tuck is the only choice for those in a rush. The technique focuses primarily on folding the hem on both sides of your shirt once your pants are already zipped and belt is on.

While we’re on the topic of shirts, check out this video with a few tips on how to keep your shirts nice and crisp, as we all know – no amount of tucking is going to fix a grubby shirt.

Bad Tucks

A bad tuck can transform a snob into a slob in a matter of days. These variations are even worse than they look.

The Half-Tuck

You’re either tucked or untucked, there is no middle ground. Unless it’s a preppy tuck, the half-tuck shirt always looks half-foolish, even on celebrities: hanging-down shirttails in front, messy folds with no signs of texture or proportion are tucked in at the back. Avoid the half-tuck accident at all costs!

The Tuck with No Belt

Belt loops and buttons will show, when you decide to tuck your shirt and ditch the belt, no question about it. Consider several options: removing the loops or keeping your belt/suspenders where they belong.


The etiquette of wearing an untucked shirt is self-evidently uncomplicated and unproblematic. An untucked shirt won’t ruin your reputation. It prohibits nothing beyond the common sense.

Statement-wise or not, being pro-untucked leaves plenty of room for mixing and matching summery colours, light fabrics, unusual designs, including the longline trend and roll-up sleeves. Make sure your untucked shirt is trimmed and preferably slim fit tailored, with a mid-way cut along the fly of your chinos or jeans, so you can effortlessly embrace the untucked casualness.

Untucked Shirts | SHOP: Shirts

Checklist for Tucking Your Shirt

Dress shirts, button-fronted sport shirts, fleece shirts – tucked.

T-shirts, rugby shirts, Breton tops, Hawaiian shirts, guayaberas – untucked.

Polo shirts – better with the preppy tuck.

Flannel shirts and linen shirts – both options work just fine, although better off untuck.

In addition to all that has been said above, we have prepared a meticulous checklist of things to consider before and after tucking your shirt:

  • Combine different tucking techniques to learn what works best for you.
  • Pay attention to the “gig line”. You don’t need to dress like a marine in order to keep it neatly centred. Simply check if your buttons line up precisely with the fly of your trousers.
  • If you don’t wear a tie, leave the collar unbuttoned.
  • A short, even hem (in polo shirts or t-shirts) is meant to be untucked. An uneven hem with “long tails” in the front or back, meeting on the sides by your hips, – better tucked.
  • Shoulder fit is no less important than a waist fit or a torso fit.
  • Take care of your shirt. You can’t minimize the maintenance; hence the algorithm for it is already defined: buy a shirt, clean it, iron it and then tuck it.
  • Any shirt sends an important message. Tucked-in shirt means “business”, an untucked shirt means “vacation”, not the other way around.
  • Experience trim fit. Shirts with trimmer options (custom fit) look especially sleek when tucked in.
  • Optionally, try switching to a different brand of shirt with shorter shirttails.

End Note

Notwithstanding the patronizing remarks, still, you can tuck it your way, though “your way” isn’t always the non messy way, right? Practice different techniques, experiment with length and keep in mind that a jacket is a no cover-up for your tucking mistakes.