I recently read a fashion post suggesting that a woman in a professional environment should never wear her shirt untucked. I am fairly short (5’3″) and busty, and the tucked-in look usually isn’t very flattering on me. Though I can sometimes pull it off with a blazer on top, tucking my shirts tends to make my torso look very short and my bust look huge. Is it really necessary to wear only tucked shirts in a professional setting? I’ve always thought reasonably tailored, hip-length shirts were fine untucked, even in a conservative environment. What do you think?
Meanwhile, reader S wonders:
I was wondering if you could weigh in on a debate I’m having with a couple friends — we’ve been discussing whether it is more professional to wear a button-down shirt tucked or untucked with dress slacks/trousers. One person says untucked and tucked are equally professional, one person says tucked in is ok only if the trousers are worn with a belt, and one person says tucked in is always more professional! Thoughts? (And thanks!)
I’m curious to hear what the readers say here. We’ve talked about how to keep your shirts tucked, rounded up blouses especially for busty women, as well as done Hunts for crisp button-front blouses and silk blouses… but I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about whether you MUST tuck your shirt in for big events like interviews or presentations. For my $.02, as someone who (like reader A) is short and busty, the tucked-in look is rarely a good one on me, and I would consider an untucked, fitted blouse — worn with trousers or a pencil skirt — to be a classic workwear outfit. I would make a few caveats, though, for when you can wear a blouse untucked:
- the blouse should say “fitted” in the description, or have darts that make it fitted
- it should hit at the top of your hipbone, not just below your waist — I’ve found that the shorter blouses are intended to be tucked, ironically.
Silky blouses can be trickier, because the rules for crisp blouses apply to some of them (particularly ones with a collar and darts) — they should be fitted and hit at the top of your hipbone. In addition to those blouses, though, there are a number of more relaxed styles that are not fitted that also, I think, look appropriate untucked.
- the same rules apply as for crisp blouses for fit and hipbone, such as this lovely Hugo Boss (for — for example, I think these silk blouses will all look better tucked (or layered beneath sweaters) in a conservative office setting: Equipment ($208), Everlane ($78), Halogen ($68)
- you have more leeway if the blouse is uncollared, I think — there are a number of relaxed styles that are popular now, such as this Vince Camuto, ($98) or this plus-sized version from Talbots ($69) that give you the option of tucking or not
Now: would I wear an untucked blouse for an interview? I probably wouldn’t, to be honest — this is one of the reasons I tend to prefer untucked, fitted silk sweaters beneath suits, but that’s me. As for the belt question: I think most of the time a slim belt (less than 1″ wide, certainly) will make the look more polished — but that obviously isn’t always the case, as Brooks Brothers illustrates with the blue version of the pictured blouse.
Readers, what say you — when do you leave your blouses untucked? What types of blouses (or situations) “demand” a tuck? Also: how do you feel about belts and blouses?