Those Who Give A Tuck…

Emmanuelle Alt

With Spring’s arrival on the not-too-distant horizon I thought it might be a good time to ask “What the tuck?”  Soon we will be shedding our many layers of winter clothing, bulky sweaters and all,  in favor of  button downs and loose fitting tops and T’s which begs the question of what to do with the excess shirt-age.   Of course, there is the full tuck or no tuck,  but what about all those 50 shades of gray areas of tuckage:  the half-tuck, the faux tuck, the semi-tuck or the one-tuck?  When did it become so confusing to negotiate the intersection between your shirt and your pants?  I’ve been thinking about the myriad ways in which tucking happens or doesn’t happen and my head is about to explode.   I will (hopefully) try to decipher these terms whilst I explain them to myself (if that makes any tucking sense at all).

J. Crew Half-tuck

It seems that J. Crew, Calvin Klein, David Beckham and Emmanuelle Alt have a lot to teach us about dealing with a shirt bottom.  The J. Crew catalogs have, for years, been major proponents of what is either known as the half-tuck or the semi-tuck (front in, back out) or mullet shirt.  Another variety of the half tuck, and one that I remember using back in the ’80’s when I worked briefly in what used to be known as display (now  visual merchandising) at a major department store, is to tuck one side of the front tail of the button down in and leave the other out.  I’m wondering now if there is any significance to which side is which as there reportedly used to be with one earring?  Regardless, it is a good way to feature a belt and to add shape at the waist without a full “stiff-looking” tuck-in.

David Beckham tuck

Another old-school trend (I believe it was from the ’50s or before as both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe were photographed in the midriff exposer) is to tie-up the front of the shirt tails; the prevailing method back in the day.  It is a look I still favor when confronting a long shirt however it is not without its styling issues.  Sometimes the placement of buttons does not allow for the tie-up to happen at the ideal spot (just meeting the top of the high-waisted pants).  Then I will constantly play out the definition of insanity (you know; how you keep doing the same thing over again, expecting a different outcome) throughout the course of my day, tying and re-tying and never quite getting it right.

Ashlee Simpson rocks the half-tuck

I recently heard the term “one-tuck” on a style show where one “fashion critic” referred to a loose top that perhaps should have been picked up on the side and stuffed (excuse me, I mean” placed “in the pants) in order to look neater under the cropped jacket.  Another of the fashion commentators disagreed that the tuck would ameliorate the fashion crime, arguing that the shirt was too big and baggy and should not have been worn at all, no tuckin’ way!  It is actually amazing how much space this whole issue gets on online forums and blogs.  Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules of tucking, some can carry it off while others look like they rushed out of the restroom and forgot to finish tucking in their shirt.  As with any style you’ve got to “own it.”  Just don’t take it too personally if someone suggests that you(r) tuck (is) off.

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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