To tuck or not to tuck. That is the question.
And apparently, it’s a loaded one. I have always been a little baffled by the responses I’ve had from women over the years whenever I suggest tucking. The shock and horror.
But here’s the secret:
When done properly, tucking your shirt in creates waist definition and the illusion of longer legs. When done incorrectly, it can accentuate tummy bulge and make you look sloppy.
Today, I’m going to show you when, why, and how to tuck so that you make the most out of any outfit. This step by step process will help you decide if tucking is right for you, and how to do it strategically.
Step 1: Look At Your Body
The biggest challenge many women face when it comes to tucking is tummy bulge. How do we define our waist without amplifying any belly bloat. This can especially be a challenge for women with a straight or apple-shaped body type (a Style Dial Blue in my system, but this can also apply to a Style Dial Purple or Green). But there is a way to tuck strategically so that you define the waist and minimize the tummy.
Let’s discuss two tucking strategies and how they relate to the tummy.
The front tuck is best reserved for those times, or those women, who feel good about their tummy. Maybe you’re tummy is flattish that day, or your jeans are holding everything in nicely, or you’re just blessed with a flatter tummy area. The front tuck is your friend.
The front tuck creates a Concave Arc that defines the waistline and highlights a relatively flat tummy.
Double Side Tuck
The double side tuck is a great strategy for when you want to define your waist but don’t want to amplify or draw attention to your tummy area. It creates a Convex Arc that is very flattering and helps minimize the tummy and create a slimmer look overall. This is created by tucking in both sides of a top, and leaving the front out to create that arc. I find that this works best with woven tops or thicker knits, and not flimsy knits.
If Your Waist Is Straight
Try an asymmetrical tuck for a straight or undefined waistline. It will create a visually flattering diagonal line that gives the impression of a defined waist, without adding bulk to the tummy area. Try this if you are a Style Dial Blue, Purple, or Green body type.
Full Tuck or No Full Tuck
A full tuck looks best on someone with a defined waistline and a relatively flat tummy. This is especially true if you’re tucking a fitted top into fitted bottoms. A flowy top with a full tuck is much more forgiving.
Short Legs vs Long Legs
Tucking is most essential on women with shorter legs, because wearing a longer shirt untucked can further shorten your legs and lengthen what might already be a longer torso. For women with shorter torsos, an untucked look can often work, provided it looks current, but a tucked look will still look more flattering.
Look At Your Top
The next thing to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to tuck is the type of top you are wearing. Here are some things to take into account.
Look At Your Bottoms
After you’ve looked at your body and your tops, the next thing you need to consider is your bottoms. What will you be tucking that shirt into? Here are some general guidelines:
- If your bottoms are flowy, tuck to add waist definition and create balance.
- If your bottoms are fitted, try a flowier tuck or no tuck at all.
- If your bottoms are high waisted, do a full tuck with long or flowy tops, and a half tuck with shorter tops. You want to show that waist! If your top hits nicely at the waist then you can leave the top untucked
- For low to mid rise bottoms, half tuck long and baggy tops. Otherwise, wear tops untucked. Tucking into low rise jeans can be tricky because you can lose your waistline.
And now, for your questions! I did a post in my private FB group asking for questions about tucking, and had so many good ones! Many are answered in the post above, and in the video, but here are a few I wanted to address:
The short answer? No. The shape of the hem doesn’t matter unless it’s a decorative or asymmetric hem (see Look At Your Tops, above) or unless there is a lot of volume. A decorative hem is designed to be shown, but a curved hem can be tucked without losing any of the style of the shirt.
Great question! As a Style Dial Blue, Dessie will want to experiment with an asymmetric tuck, and maybe one that is tucked on the lower side of her hip to balance out the hip discrepancy. Leaving a shirt untucked at the back can add shape to a flat bum. My best advice is to try different tucks and take pics. Wait a while and then take a look. You might be surprised by what works. (Also, although tucking seems trendy now, it’s actually more of a classic way to wear our shirts.)
First, let me say that every belt loop doesn’t need a belt. Belts are optional, so use them when you want extra definition or as an additional visual element in an outfit. For more on belts, see my belt video.
I focus more on flattery than on personal style type when it comes to tucking, but a full tuck is more classic while the other tucks can look more contemporary and more relaxed. And yes to minimizing a tummy with a tuck. See my tip about the Convex Arc under the “Look At Your Body” section, above. Margie Seiple also asked about this: “Best way to hide your tummy if you want to tuck.”
Yes! That works so well to achieve just the right amount of blousey-ness. Thanks for the reminder!
Belting is optional! Use a belt when you want to further define the waist or add an interesting visual element to the outfit. Otherwise, skip it. I have more tips on belts here!
Great question! It does not depend on the waistband. Most waistbands work very well with a tuck. If you don’t like the look of an elastic waistband, blouse the top out so the waistband is not as visible. Belt looks also don’t matter when it comes to tucking. And no, you don’t have to wear a belt just because there are loops. Belts are optional. I have more belt tips in this video.
Body shape does make a difference! See my first point, above. Size does not, except in relation to stomach size. If you have a fuller stomach, see the tip on Convex Arcs, above. Most women will look best with a tuck of some sort. Wearing a shirt long and shapeless will, for the most part, cause you to look heavier and shorter. Sara Santibanez asked a version of this question, too. “Which style dial and where / how to tuck. All tucked in, front tuck, side tuck, asymmetrical single side tuck etc.”
Sometimes, you have to try a tuck to know if it will work. Front, side, and tiny tucks where you only put a bit of the fabric into the waistband can all work with long or bulky shirts. If you find the shirt is too long to tuck, and there is too much extra fabric at the bottom for even a front tuck, then the shirt should be hemmed.
Absolutely! Those of us with shorter waists and full busts need to tuck more than most, or our waistline completely disappears. Make sure you are wearing a good supportive bra so that your bust stays nice and high, and then try a small front tuck to define the waist without further shortening it. The other option is to try a shirt that hits at your best waistline measurement, which might be below your natural waist if you are short-waisted. (For your exact waistline measurement, check out the Fashion Fit Formula). Then you can skip the tucking question entirely.
Nada Manley says
Hi Heidi! Thanks for the comment! I had my daughters at 36 and 37, so I too was nursing a bit later! Enjoy those babies!
So interesting! Maybe I will be able to try it someday when I’m not nursing a baby! And, yes, I know this group is for women over 40, but I have nursed three babies since turning 40 (one born at 39).