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TO TUCK OR NOT TO TUCK—ALL YOUR SHIRT QUESTIONS ANSWERED

HOW TO WEAR YOUR DRESS SHIRTS AND SPORT SHIRTS THE RIGHT WAY

If you’ve been watching Netflix recently, you’ve likely seen that the new version of Queer Eye is taking over.  The Fab 5 from the show have been featured everywhere from Buzzfeed to GQ, and their style tips are spreading like wildfire. Tan France, their fashion designer, has had the world abuzz with his menswear suggestion: The French Tuck.
Images via Netflix
The French Tuck is essentially a half-tuck that can be used for more casual shirts. It’s not new, but it’s making waves across the style community.
Tan’s style tips got us thinking about how men wear dress shirts in general, and the mistakes we often see being made. We get lots of questions from men wondering whether they should tuck or not, how to roll their sleeves, and generally how to look good in a dress shirt. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re wearing your shirts properly.

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR SHIRT

A lot of people categorize all button-up shirts as dress shirts, but there are significant differences between how a dress shirt can be worn and how a sport shirt should be worn. Knowing the difference between the two is the first step to looking your best.

SPORT SHIRT

Sport shirts are a casual button-up, with either long or short sleeves. They are meant to be worn under a sport jacket or on their own and typically have more pattern, a casual fabric, and a soft collar and cuffs. Sport shirts tend to be shorter, and therefore can be worn untucked. The length of a sport shirt should be around mid-crotch.


DRESS SHIRT

Dress shirts are typically quite structured, with a somewhat stiff collar and cuffs and less pattern than a sport shirt. Dress shirts are meant to be worn with a tie or suit, but you can still wear a dress shirt more casually if you ditch the jacket and/or tie. Be sure to roll your sleeves if going without a jacket. Dress shirts fit longer than a sport shirt, and should come down to the bottom of your seat. Typically a dress shirt is as long as a sport jacket when untucked.

STEP 2: GET THE RIGHT FIT

TOO BIG

Dress shirt that's too big

If your shirt is too big, it will sag at the shoulders and give you too much material around the body, whether it’s tucked in or not. If the cuff is too big, the sleeve will also slide into your palms.

TOO SMALL

Dress shirt that's too small

If your shirt is too small, the buttons will pull and it won’t stay tucked in when you move around. You’ll also notice it’s restrictive in the shoulders and back area.

THE RIGHT FIT

How a dress shirt should fit

A properly fitting dress shirt will make any tuck a whole lot easier, and it will look much sharper. The shoulder seam should hit right at the edge of your shoulder, and the sleeve should end where your palm meets your wrist. A perfectly tailored shirt will fall to the first thumb knuckle when unbuttoned. It should sit clean on the top of the palm when buttoned. The body of the shirt should be slim, but you should be able to move freely without the buttons pulling in the chest.

STEP 3: CHOOSE YOUR LOOK

There are more ways than one to wear a shirt, but make sure you choose the right shirt and the right tuck to avoid looking sloppy. If you’re not sure when to wear each of these looks, check out our Ladder of Formality post.

1. DRESS SHIRT WITH A JACKET, STANDARD TUCK

Dress shirt with jacket
This is the most professional look in this article, and it’s also the most simple: If you’re wearing a jacket or blazer, always tuck your shirt in. If the shirt fits properly, the tuck will always look great. You can add a tie and/or pocket square to the look to finish it off. Leave the top button open if you are skipping the tie.

2. DRESS SHIRT WITHOUT A JACKET, STANDARD TUCK AND ROLLED SLEEVE

Dress shirt with rolled sleeves
When wearing a dress shirt without a jacket, always roll your sleeves. This creates a more intentional appearance, rather than looking like you just forgot to put your jacket back on. You typically want to avoid wearing a tie with this look.
Fold, fold, slide.
How to roll dress shirt sleeves
To do a proper sleeve roll, undo the bottom button, then fold the sleeve twice at a cuff-width each time. After folding, slide the sleeve up just below or above your elbow.

3. SPORT SHIRT WITHOUT A JACKET, NO TUCK

How to wear an untucked sport shirt

Some sport shirts can be worn without tucking them at all, though they need to be the right length. The shirt length should be around mid-crotch (it is what it is). If it’s any longer, tuck it in. If it’s shorter, your shirt is too small. Shirts that usually work great for this are short-sleeved sport shirts and anything with a soft construction.

4. SPORT SHIRT WITHOUT A JACKET, FRENCH TUCK

How to wear a french tuck

We don't do the French Tuck ourselves, but we actually don't mind it. If it fits with your personality, go for it, but it needs to be done with a sport shirt, not a dress shirt. The softer construction creates a looser, more casual look. A French tuck with a dress shirt would just look messy.
You’ll also want to choose jeans or a cotton chino not a dress pant and leave the tie and blazer behind. The whole point of the French Tuck is to look a little laissez faire, so keep it casual.
For a proper French Tuck, be sure to tuck in only at the front, leaving the sides and back untucked.

5. SPORT SHIRT WITH OR WITHOUT A JACKET, STANDARD TUCK

Sport shirt tucked in

You can also wear a sport shirt with a standard shirt tuck, either with or without a jacket. Again, if the shirt fits properly, this won’t be difficult to pull off. Adding a belt will polish off the look. If you aren’t wearing a jacket, you can roll your sleeves here again.
Fold, slide, fold
How to roll a contrast cuff sleeve
Sport shirt rolled cuff
Sport shirts will often have a contrast cuff, which you can show off by rolling the sleeves a bit differently. Leave the bottom button undone and roll it once at the width of the cuff. Slide the sleeve up to about twice the width of the cuff, then roll the bottom of the sleeve up once. Tada!
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Whatever look you choose, if you follow these rules, you’ll always be looking sharp. If you ever have questions about how to style a shirt--or anything else--stop by for a visit. We’ll have you looking your best in no time.

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