Open Thread: How Doable is the Untucked Shirt with Jacket?

untucked shirt with jacketWe nearly posted this jacket at left for our TPS of the day, until we noticed the hideous buttons (seriously, they’re hids; check ’em out).  But it raised another question for us:  how doable is this look for the office?  Namely, the cropped jacket/cardigan with the untucked/tunic/long tank.  There are a variety of looks possible here — the too-short dress worn with pants, the blousy tunic, an untucked blouse, the fitted tank/sweater that happens to hit past the hips — as well as shrunken blazers, shrugs,

For our $.02: we’ve kind of always presumed it to be completely acceptable for a “business as usual” day — not reserved for casual Fridays, but not the outfit to sport the day you meet the new CEO.  The look is modern — people really weren’t doing this, say, 20 years ago — yet old at the same time (we seem to recall a fairly iconic image of Coco Chanel sporting a similar look).  We’d only wear the look as separates — say gray pinstriped slacks, a purple longish tunic, and perhaps a navy cropped jacket or sweater.

We normally do this sort of thing as a poll, but we thought we’d try an open thread today — please weigh in and let us know what your thoughts are on the look being acceptable or not for the office. Are we wrong? Is this look not doable for the office?  Are only some variations of the look doable for the office (blazer-like cardigan or shrunken jacket yes, but shrug no? fitted tank yes, but too-long dress no?)  (Or, do you only wear cropped jackets with dresses?)


  1. For my son’s high school graduation I wore a Chanel black and white tweed boxy jacket, a Tory Burch lace tunic that extended below the jacket, a pair of dark wash jeans, and some Manolo black ballet flats. Not bad, if I dispense with humility and say so myself. I approve of the look at a high level, even when worn with stuff like Chanel. I think this could do for work, but would have to get myself into a dressing room and actually try things on, as I believe it would depend on the details.

    • Anonymous :

      You have clearly dispensed with humility by name dropping where it wasn’t at all necessary to make your point. Outfit sounds great, though.

  2. I definitely agree it depends on the details. I’m fairly busty, and it’s very difficult for me to wear tucked-in shirts period. Because of that, I say it has to be okay! And frankly, I think an untucked tee/tank/etc. is better looking than an untucked blouse most of the time. Perhaps it’s the hem. But for me, shrugs (or anything that might resemble that length) are only acceptable on girls under about 19, and then only in the mall. Maybe I’m too conservative.

  3. Anonymous :

    If your shirt is long enough to tuck it in, tuck it in. Otherwise, you look half-dressed. You are still in the office, not out on the town. TRY to look like a professional during work hours.

  4. this look works perfectly so long as the pieces match with each other- one of my favorite summer outfits for work includes a pastel tweed chanel-esque cropped blazer i’ve had for years–but the only way i’ve been able to make it work involved a longish tunic type top and cream pants–the blazer is polished enough to elevate it to professional status.
    this could potentially work with matching suiting too, but it would have to be with a very particular top, maybe a fitted sweater or top that just happens to hit below the jacket- i have a purple lace top that has scalloped edges at the bottom hem that would look silly tucked in, but looks great peeking out an inch or so below my blazer hem.

  5. I think it really depends what you are going for. If you are trying to replicate a suit-type look (or similar level of formality), this is not going to get you there. If you want to look pulled together, but a bit, as you say, modern, then you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    FWIW, I am very tall, with very long legs and a short torso. My shirts are nearly always untucked due to the short torso, but they are usually button-down blouses with neat hemlines that can be worn in or out. Otherwise I look like I am trying to give Steve Urkel a run for his money!

    At my firm, the above look would _maybe_ be acceptable for a regular day, but just barely!

  6. Another vote for acceptable, with qualifications. I think it may be easier to pull off if, as KLo pointed out, it’s not a blouse. A knit with a little stretch would be fitted enough that it doesn’t look sloppy, and the length is very important– right around the hips is fine, any lower and you’re veering into Miley Cyrus territory. As I’m petite, that rules out tunics and dresses, but taller women could easily pull off a tunic.

    Although I’m in CA, shrugs are not an appropriate look in finance… however various blazer/jackets/structured cardigans would be fine. I think the length would be dependent on the proportion of untucked shirt showing as well.

  7. I’m wearing a sort-of-cropped Michael Kors cardigan sweater today. (I would not call it a “shrug” because it is much longer than that — it comes down to my waistband on my pants, but just barely.) My long sleeve shirt underneath is significantly longer, and not tucked in.

    As a very “short-waisted” person, the tuck-in loks really ridiculous on me. I never tuck unless I’m wearing a button down, in court, or meeting a client.

    I think there’s more ambiguity than Anonymous above seems to think. If the shirt is really long, or not very fitted, and it’s not tucked, you will look half-dressed. However, I rarely see the female attorneys at my firm tuck, and I don’t think that all look unprofessional all the time! If you look put together, you’re fine.

  8. I am actually a big fan of the untucked shirt with jacket look for the business casual office. It allows you to be a little “unbuttoned” without dispensing with the jacket.

  9. Anonymous :

    I think it really depends on the proportions of the untucked shirt and the jacket. The untucked shirt can’t hit too much below the hip and needs to be not to blousy to look professional. And the bottom of the jacket needs to come within a couple of inches of the bottom of the untucked shirt. That keeps it more tailored looking making it ok for the office.

  10. I agree that the look is fine as long as the details and proportions are right. The ‘too short dress’ look would not work at my office but most of the other options as long as you look put together.

    Also, my $.02 on the jacket – if the only thing you don’t like is the buttons (which are hideous) that’s pretty easy to fix (either at home or at the tailor). Buy some plain navy buttons and away you go.

  11. Not for the office

  12. Perhaps offices in Australia are a little more casual but this is a look you see quite often in Sydney, it’s autumn and it’s still very warm to walk around outside during the day but the dreaded airconditioning is still cold enough to demand a jacket or cardigan. I think the untucked thing works best with a slightly shrunken but structured jacket or cardigan and it is obviously essential that the underneath tunic/shirt is meant to be worn untucked, not mis-shaped or ragged or stretched at all. We have a brand here called Metalicus which specialises in longish tunics in many colours, which are worn over a camisole and generally under a matching shrunken jacket or long jacket. Most lawyers invariably end up with the black/grey combo but I also often wear the dark red too. It looks good over a pair of straight pants (usually black). I have to stress though that Litigators rarely wear this look up to Court!

  13. Definitely agree that if the proportions, especially of the shirt, are right, this look would work for a “regular” day in the office. At least my office (CA). I would avoid shrugs and the dress-over-pants look–I’ve never been a fan of those styles for any occasion, let alone for work.

  14. I think it depends on your office environment. If you work in an office where men primarily wear suits, I think this is just too casual. However, if you work in an office where men wear polo shirts and khakis, I think this look it totally acceptable. I work in a business casual office (state government). So, this look would be fine so long as I wasn’t meeting with a client.

  15. Definitely okay for the office, if it is a shirt and not a dress. I also generally avoid shrugs (didn’t those go out of style a few years back?) and dresses over pants. However, the tunic-over-pants (low hip length), with or without jacket, works well for the first few months when you are pregnant and not yet into maternity clothes, but a little bulgy around the middle.

  16. While men usually have to tuck in their shirts for a polished look, that is not the case for women. Definitely a woman can wear a blouse/shirt untucked depending on the design of the shirt, including the finished edge, and the shape of her body.

    Personally I prefer the hem of the jacket to be longer than the shirt or for them to be similar, but I’m just not a fan of cropped jackets. I think they make my short upper half look even boxier.

  17. I love this look for regular office days (wearing it now). I have a high natural waist, so tucking into dress pants never looks right on me and if I have to do so (suits) I keep the jacket closed, which isn’t comfy for long days at the office, which means I end up sporting the untucked shirt and jacket look a lot since I think the untucked shirt alone (except for sweaters) isn’t professional.

  18. Another comment re: the buttons – this jacket reminds me of the Balenciaga nautical contrast jacket that was huge about a year and a half ago, but shrunken. The buttons looked fine on the Balenciaga because they fit the structured, nautical look of the jacket. Can’t say the same here.

  19. As a short person with a high waist, I can say that if I had to tuck everything in I would always look like my skirts/pants were empire waist style (even with petites!). Most of the commenters above are right – it has to be the right kind of shirt, it has to have the right kind of hem, etc.

    It’s all about judgment, right? If you have the good judgment to know when something looks good on you, looks professional, and fits right, then you’re probably going to be able to pull it off. If you don’t have that self-awareness, you’ll probably make some blunders even if you always stick to tucked-in button downs.

  20. As a short person with a high waist, I can say that if I had to tuck everything in I would always look like my skirts/pants were empire waist style (even with petites!). Most of the commenters above are right – it has to be the right kind of shirt, it has to have the right kind of hem, etc.

    Yeah, I think this is the heart of it. I would look a lot more ridiculous (and, accordingly, unprofessional) if I tucked everything in than I do wearing nice pieces that look good not tucked in. I think some people aren’t quite sure what they’re asking here.

  21. The flip side from someone who is very long-waisted – appropriate or not (IMO, not very – too Mary Kate, and I can’t picture myself sitting next to a partner who is wearing slacks and a button-down and feeling comfortable), this style would only make me look even shorter of leg and wider of hip.

    Not saying that the shirt underneath has to be tucked – but I think it looks much better if it’s within an inch or so (on either side) of the top layer.

  22. The questions need to specify whether you want to know if it’s appropriate for business formal or business casual offices (even business casual offices have casual Fridays).

    Business formal means a suit. It really is that simple. Not a suit jacket. Not a suit jacket matched with a similar color pair of pants. A suit.

  23. I have yet to tuck in a shirt for the 5 years I have been at this (small, Bay Area) firm, under a jacket or a cardigan or even a suit, although I wouldn’t allow the shirt to drop below a suit jacket. With a small chest and a rather thick waist and curvy hips, I look terrible in tucked-in shirts, which place emphasis on exactly the most unflattering point on my body. A fitted or skimming shirt below or just covering my waistband is infinitely more flattering and comfortable.

    The combo pictured would be perfectly appropriate in my office for a “business as usual” day.

  24. Love this look for the PTA meeting, but to work the t-shirt would need to be closer in length to the jacket.

  25. Anonymous :

    I rarely tuck in my shirts. For court I will but keep the jacket buttoned or have a shirt shorter than my jacket but untucked and snug, and unbutton the jacket when seated.

    For another survey, how do you feel about seperates. I hate the all one color suit look. I usually wear a gray skirt w/ black super thin stripes with a black jacket, a tweed wool skirt w/ a tan jacket, black and beige pin striped skirt w/ beige jacket, etc. I don’t own any all one solid color suits. Opinions?

    Finally, long skirt, 2 or 3 inches past knees, are black knee high boots acceptable? I wore them to court in snow storms (in a fairly casual rural state) and got lots of compliments and no dirty looks. But I can’t help feeling hookerish in them, no matter how long the skirt.

  26. Black knee high boots are acceptable in my office on attorneys and staff alike, with or without a heel and with knee length or shorter skirts. The only times I’ve seen women in them in court, they’ve looked inappropriate, but that has also been with shorter skirts — I imagine they’d be just fine with a longer skirt. Especially if it’s snowing!

  27. I have to say, I think it’s all about what looks good on the person. For instance, yesterday I wore an untucked button down over slacks. Looks fine for the office. But when I went to meet a client and put on the jacket, the blouse was just slightly longer. I don’t think it looked -terrible- but I will NEVER wear that combination again.

    On the other hand, I will definitely wear a fitted non-button-up that is close to the length of that jacket, that’s what I usually wear (which is why I thought the button-up would work, clearly I do NOT have “the eye”).

    Anonymous @ 2:03am, I think boots like that would be fine. I’ve seen my female partner in the firm wear looks like that and I have once or twice. I do kind of feel hookerish as well, so usually only in the office, not if I’m meeting clients.

    I also hate buttoning my jackets, I feel like it makes me look like a barbie, with the lapels emphasizing my -large- bust but the skirt/buttons on the jacket make it look like I don’t have (as much) of a belly. That means that I like more professional-looking button-downs and have to be careful of my fabrics, but it’s not terrible.

  28. In this case we think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; for an appropriate and professional look in the office, women’s shirts need to be tucked, just like their male counterparts.

    This may well be a generational differentiation, but as someone who hired hundreds of people over the years, it isn’t about what is “most flattering” when that trumps professional standards.

    Shirts & sweaters hanging out from underneath jackets is just plain sloppy-appearing, and sloppy simply isn’t professional, not in the corporate world.

  29. Anonymous :

    I also think it depends on the shape of the woman. The super skinny model it looks great on. Someone more overweight it might create a nasty spare tire, muffin top look, peaking out under the jacket.

  30. I know I’m a bit late to comment, but I have a jacket I bought from The Limited a few months ago that has become a sort of staple for me. It feels like a suit jacket in the fabric, but it only comes down to my waist. The sleeves are short, hitting an inch or so above the elbow, with a cuffed look. The jacket clasps in front. I generally wear it with longer shirts over my pants to create a longer-looking torso, since I have a short torso and longer legs (I don’t mind making my legs look shorter and I live with my hips looking a little wider). I’m still pretty new to the working world, only a year in my job, but if this isn’t work appropriate, I definitely want to change! I’ve been going to work thinking it makes every outfit I wear more professional, but it sounds like a lot of people would disagree with me. Our office is business casual, most men wear button-downs and slacks, but never a tie or jacket. I am an engineer, so I don’t have a lot of women (besides the admin assistants) to get office-appropriate attire examples from. Any ideas?

  31. Anonymous :

    Women wear more sweaters and non-button-down shirts than men. These sweaters and other knit tops that women wear often look best untucked. Men often look better tucked b/c that’s generally a more professional look for button-down shirts. As many other posters have commented, when women wear button-down shirts, the shirts tend to look more polished and professional if tucked. The exceptions to the tucked button-down looking more professional are the right fit and the right hem (and good enough judgment).

    When men wear sweaters, they don’t generally tuck them. If they did tuck, they would likely look ridiculous. This holds whether the sweater is on its own, under a jacket, or over a button-down shirt and tie. It also holds true whether it is a v-neck sweater, a turtle-neck or a sweater vest.

    On a related subject, wearing the shirt longer than the jacket is relatively fashion-forward. There are a lot of people who will not accept anything fashion-forward as professional. Period. It will not become professional to someone of that mindset until it is very widely accepted and has been for quite sometime. And even then, there will still be some holdouts. See the entry about women wearing pant-suits vs. skirt-suits. Ask about open-toed shoes. Ask about skirts without pantyhose.

  32. I have a long narrow waist and more rounded hips. Wearing an untucked top which rides just below my jacket enables me to wear a shorter jacket, highlighting my small waist. It gives the same effect as wearing a blazer cinched at the waist. I do, however, prefer to wear a top which doesn’t contrast too much with my skirt or trousers. Something with a cool texture (lacy or silky) is a nice touch.

    Please check out my post featuring a pregnant woman who wears a suit with an untucked top:

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