Should I tuck in or unfold my shirt?
As summer approaches and old-fashioned skinny jeans, what’s the status of tucking shirts into other varieties of jeans? Is there a rule of thumb that shirts should be tucked into which jeans and when? – Yael, Dix Hills, NY
First of all, I wouldn’t say skinny jeans are old fashioned. I would say other styles are gaining popularity and perhaps getting the most attention. But if you want to wear skinny jeans, you have to feel free to do so with the confidence that no one is going to yell “Gone!” These days, that’s pretty much anything.
You’re right, however, that high waisted jeans, boyfriend jeans, and even wide leg jeans are talked about by everyone, Levi’s and Lucky Brand included. And you’re also right that whether you fold or unfold is a question Hamlet might well have asked, had he not been wearing mourning tunics and coats.
After all, it’s partly a matter of proportion, but it’s also a matter of perception.
When it comes to proportion, remember: balance in jeans, as in everything. Skinny jeans look great with a looser, non-tucked top because the contrast doesn’t cut you in half. On the other hand, if the bottom is looser – flared, baggy, culottes – you don’t want the puff of an un-tucked top because you’ll look like a drop.
As designer Michael Kors said when I called for advice, when it comes to more relaxed jeans cuts, “it’s about showing the size.” In fact, he suggested avoiding the fold-back issue altogether (sneaky dude) with “cropped t-shirts and sweaters,” which is very redux from the ’90s, or “a light bodysuit worn with relaxed jeans and a well-fitting blazer “.
Then remember that, historically, un-tucked shirts suggest a relaxed and laid back attitude, while tucked-in shirts symbolize professionalism. Also nervousness. Somewhere on the back of everyone’s head is the memory of a parent’s voice telling them to “tuck your shirt in”. The sheer visual effect of the tuck – cleaning the line, trapping the shirt tails – is inevitable.
Which brings me to the third way. Remember, as Michael suggested, the half tuck!
“Use a silk or cotton shirt and tuck the shirt in at the waist, mid front,” he said. This gives you a way to “just show the buckle of a large belt and the hint of a waist, but cover the back and sides to give you a relaxed attitude.”
In other words: take cake and eat it too.
Your style questions, answers
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a fashion reader’s question, which you can send to her at any time via E-mail Where Twitter. The questions are edited and condensed.