Tucking in a dress shirt properly is key to achieving a polished, put-together look. However, there are several techniques for neatly tucking in a shirt. Here is an overview of the main ways to tuck in a dress shirt.
The Military Tuck
The military tuck, also known as the army tuck, is a common method for neatly and tightly tucking in a shirt.
How To Do The Military Tuck
To do a military tuck:
- Tuck the front of the shirt tightly into your pants or skirt, pulling any excess fabric towards your sides before tucking. Make sure there are no lumps or bulges.
- Pull the shirt tails tight and flatten them against your lower back.
- Tuck the sides of the shirt in last, again pulling out any creases or lumps. Make sure the shirt lies flat and smooth against your body.
- Consider using shirt stays to keep the shirt extra tight and smooth. These elastic bands clip onto your socks and connect to the bottom of your shirt.
Pros and Cons
The military tuck creates a very smooth, tailored look since the shirt is held tight to the body. However, it can feel restrictive for some. It also requires frequent re-tucking throughout the day as the shirt loosens.
The Half Tuck
The half tuck involves tucking just the front of the shirt in, leaving the back untucked and loose.
How To Do The Half Tuck
To do a half tuck:
- As with the military tuck, neatly tuck in the front of the shirt first, removing any lumps or excess fabric.
- Leave plenty of excess shirt fabric hanging over your pants in the back, smoothing any wrinkles.
- Optionally, fold or tuck the loose back fabric of the shirt under at the sides for a cleaner look.
Pros and Cons
The half tuck creates a more relaxed, casual vibe. It can also be more comfortable. However, it tends to look messy if the untucked back fabric becomes wrinkled throughout the day.
The Full Overhand Tuck
This basic tuck involves tucking the entire shirt in with a simple overhand motion.
How To Do The Full Overhand Tuck
To do a full overhand tuck:
- Grab the shirt at both sides near your waist and pull it outwards to create tension.
- Tuck the center front of the shirt in first using an overhand downward motion.
- Move to both sides, tucking them in with the same overhand gesture.
- Finish by tucking the back of the shirt in using the same overhand tucking motion.
Pros and Cons
The full overhand tuck is quick and simple. However, it can lead to a looser, bulkier look with more wrinkles and a visible “muffin top” effect. The overhand tucking motion does not flatten the shirt fabric smoothly.
The Front Tuck
This style only tucks the front corners of the shirt in, leaving the rest of the shirt untucked.
How To Do The Front Tuck
To do a front tuck:
- Pull the front corners of the shirt out taut.
- Tuck just the corners into your pants using a forward-downward tucking motion on each side.
- Smooth the rest of the front shirt fabric over the tucked corners to hide them.
- Leave the back and sides of the shirt untucked and loose.
Pros and Cons
The front tuck creates a casual, relaxed look. It is also very quick and easy to do. However, only tucking small corners in can lead to a sloppy appearance if the untucked shirt fabric becomes unkempt.
Here is a step-by-step overview of how to do a classic military tuck:
- Stand with your dress shirt fully buttoned and untucked. Make sure it is neatly pressed with no wrinkles.
- Lift the front of your shirt up and pull the excess fabric tightly towards your sides before tucking in.
- Tuck the center front tightly into your pants using a downward motion. Smooth any lumps or bulges.
- Move to the sides, pulling the fabric taut again before tucking tightly into your pants or skirt using the same motion.
- Tuck the back in last in the same manner, ensuring the shirt lies flat against you. Consider using shirt stays for extra hold.
- Check for any creases or bulges. Re-tuck areas as needed to maintain a smooth, tight fit.
- Choose a properly fitted dress shirt – one that is not too tight or loose.
- Wear pants that sit at your natural waistline for the best tuck.
- Tuck your undershirt in first to prevent extra bulk.
- Use sturdy shirt stays for a crisp military tuck.
- Iron or steam your shirt to remove wrinkles before tucking.
- Periodically re-tuck your shirt if it begins to loosen throughout the day.
What is the best way to tuck in a dress shirt?
For a polished, professional look, the tight military tuck is best. It creates a smooth, wrinkle-free appearance. But a half tuck can also look sharp yet relaxed.
Should I tuck undershirts in?
Yes, always tuck undershirts fully into your underwear first to prevent excess bulk and wrinkles when tucking your dress shirt in.
How do I stop my shirt from coming untucked?
Using tight shirt stays that connect your shirt to your socks helps keep it very securely tucked. High-quality shirt fabric that doesn’t stretch also avoids untucking.
Should pants sit at your waist when tucking in a shirt?
Yes, pants that sit at your natural waistline allow you to tuck your shirt in fully. Low rise pants will leave your shirt loose with a sloppy appearance.
How often should I re-tuck my shirt?
Expect to need to periodically re-tuck throughout the day as your shirt becomes untucked, especially around the sides and back. Re-tucking once or twice ensures you maintain a neat look.
Tucking in a dress shirt neatly presents a polished, professional appearance. While techniques like the military, half, front, and overhand tucks have their pros and cons, paying attention to small details goes a long way. Wear properly fitted shirts and pants, tuck undershirts in smoothly, and use shirt stays for the most crisp, unwrinkled tuck.