To Tuck or Not To Tuck – That is the Question


Karen asked me to give some advice on tucking – who should and who shouldn’t.

Basically, if you are short through the waist (and especially if you have a medium to large bust), don’t tuck, it will make you look even shorter through the waist.  This applies to H shapes, O shapes and some V shapes (though not all).
If you are and I, X, A or 8 you can usually tuck happily.
If you are an V shape, and not busty, you can usually tuck if your pants (that’s trousers for my English readers, not underpants) are low waisted (low-rise).
Why is this?  Usually, if proportionally you are shorter through the waist (which is common with the H, O and V shape bodies), you will not want to draw attention to your visually wider waist.
I, X, A and 8 bodies are usually longer through the waist and so create more balance when they tuck, and may also draw attention to their slimmer waists.  Plus, their legs are often shorter, which means leaving tops untucked will visually shorten their legs even more.
If you are busty, by the time the fabric goes out to cover your breasts, then back in, to tuck, you will be shortened by the extra volume, so it’s not as flattering.
If you are not tucking your tops, they need to be the correct length, which is often for many around the length or within an inch or so of your hip bone (the bone that juts out at the front of your pelvis).  This will give you a nice balance of longer legs and a proportioned body.


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  • I am a non-tucker but never thoguht of why -this makes sense! BTW, you’re new photo looks great -but you look totally different-love your bangs!

  • I carry extra weight at the tummy, and am moderately busty, so don’t tuck. not. But what I also need is a well-shaped (darted, fitted in a blouse) top with well-defined and placed armholes. If I untuck with loose, low armholes, I look sloppy.

  • Thanks for the post! I will print and study…

    Can one have the tails cut off of a shirthem to make them shorter and ‘untuckable’??? Is that something that is done or does it ruin the shirt?

    Must one always tuck when wearing a suit?

    Love the new photos too!

  • I tuck sometimes and don’t tuck others. Sometimes something that I always have tucked no longer looks right that way. Not sure if it was me or the garment that changed.

  • I’m learning so much here about why my instincts are right — and I’ll be less likely to ignore them now. I’m short-waisted and while I will sometimes tuck if I’m wearing a longer cardigan or jacket over the tucked item, I then hate taking said cardi/jacket off if it gets too warm!

  • Sal – thanks.

    Christina – thanks – thought it was time for some new photos.

    Duchesse – you are exactly right – untucked clothes need to be fitted, not boxy or baggy. High armholes give you a longer, leaner line.

    Karen – absolutely you can alter a shirt to take too long tail off if you don’t want to tuck it. I spend lots of time with my clients pinning shirts for alteration in just this exact way. Shorten front and back, and quite often I’ll pin in extra darts at the back and sometimes front to tailor the shirt more so it will sit better when untucked.

    La Belette – sometimes it’s the zeitgeist – over time our bodies change a bit, so some things don’t look as good wearing them in the way we used to. Sometimes it’s just as the fashion silhouettes change we no longer like the look.

    Mater – try having your tucking shirts altered so they fit slimly over your body and aren’t too long – then you can wear them cardie or no!

  • That’s a helpful hint, Imogen. I’ve got shirts that I can do just that with, but I should think about having the ones that don’t altered.

  • I’m short waisted and I never tuck…I guess my instincts were right on this one. Great post that I’m passing on to a tucking friend who should rethink it. 🙂

  • Thanks again, Imogen!

    I’m a non-tucker too, and people have refuted my short-waistedness. It’s crazy because I know that I look ridiculous and out of proportion when I tuck. My staple look is a fitted button down, untucked, over skinny jeans.

    Thanks again for breaking down why tucking works for some and not for others, like me.

  • Karen, I like a straight bottom with side slits but that is very hard to find. Or a very gentle curve that is not a man’s-style shirt tail.

  • Mater – I get lots of shirts altered, I like to have a gentle curve on the bottom, rather than a straight hem.

    Andrea – yes – it’s good when you realise that what you want to do instinctively is the right thing for you.

    Anon – I think if you think you’re short waisted and prefer the untucked look, then it works for you!

    Karen – if the garment is too baggy, yes untucked will look casual, but if it’s well finished and sits close to the body it won’t. The hem has to look like it wasn’t meant to be tucked, if it is like a men’s shirt that is obviously meant to be tucked it looks terrible, and very casual.

    Duchesse – you are exactly right!

  • Good advice, it’s great to read your blog and get some validation for what I’m already doing that’s right or a correction of necessary!! Thanks for being such a valuable resource.

  • This makes so much sense but as a tall X I find it’s hard to get tops long enough to tuck and stay tucked. And sometimes I think this draws more attention to my wider hips (as it’s also hard to find decent medium rise pants with a long enough inseam). Ahhh the dilemmas of a tall X!

  • Hi,

    Should one defer to body shape (X, V, etc.) or vertical body proportions when deciding whether to tuck? For reference, I am X shaped with a short mid-body and larger breasts that are slightly smaller relative to my hips.
    Thanks so much for all your great advice!

  • I’m an H with a short waist. Could I get away with a tuck if it’s placed high on the waist and then with a jacket to create vertical lines?

    • You can when there is a jacket over the top as it shortens the horizontal line – also it’s easier to tuck as an H when the colours blend (so more similar value colours) than when they are more contrasted.

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