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Untucked Vs. Tucked In — A Guide To Dress Shirt Length

Miguel Vieira

Most men over­look the impor­tance of func­tion­al­i­ty in favor of aes­thet­ics. While this notion may seem easy to digest at first, our inher­ent quest for com­fort even­tu­al­ly bears a strik­ing influ­ence on the choic­es of every­day gar­ments, with dress shirts being no excep­tion.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length

The deci­sion mak­ing process when pur­chas­ing a dress shirt is often focused sole­ly on ele­ments such as col­lar or cuff style, under­min­ing the impor­tance of fit, mobil­i­ty and com­fort.

How­ev­er, the truth remains that the func­tion­al aspects of a dress shirt can make or break even the most visu­al­ly appeal­ing ele­ments, mak­ing it a bur­den to sport.

On this note, let us address one of the most crit­i­cal aspects: the length.


untucked shirt length

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Solving the dress shirt length dilemma: tucked in or untucked?

While the vast major­i­ty of dress shirts are man­u­fac­tured to be worn tucked in, recent trends dic­tate a more casu­al approach, resort­ing to light­weight lay­er­ing and going untucked instead.

Choos­ing between a tra­di­tion­al dress shirt and its untucked coun­ter­part is as much a mat­ter of per­son­al taste, as it is suit­abil­i­ty. While the tra­di­tion­al ver­sion eas­i­ly adapts to dif­fer­ent ambiances, by rolling the sleeves up and undo­ing the top two but­tons, an untucked ver­sion car­ries an intrin­sic casu­al aura.

There are no rights or wrongs, it all comes down to per­son­al pref­er­ence.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - different lengths

via Primer Mag­a­zine.

You might have noticed that dress shirts with short­er shirt tails are overt­ly casu­al,  in a com­bi­na­tion of short sleeves or heavy­weight flan­nels, and usu­al­ly in bold pat­terns (madras, plaid, and oth­ers).

How­ev­er, untucked dress shirts don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly need to be so poor­ly stereo­typed, as pol­ished ver­sions can be found or cus­tom made to your lik­ing.

Due to its nature, an untucked shirt seems to alien­ate most men and requires a some­what devel­oped sense of style to prop­er­ly don. Hence, it should be a com­ple­ment for an already well-estab­lished wardrobe and not the core of your shirt­ing options.

To shed some light on this mat­ter, let us review the avail­able options in fur­ther detail.

Traditional tucked in dress shirts and their length.

A tucked in dress shirt will keep you look­ing sharp on more than one occa­sion; be it in a full suit at the office or out on the town with friends.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most off-the-rack dress shirts have pre­de­fined length mea­sure­ments accord­ing to indus­try stan­dards and indi­vid­ual size charts.

These aim to cov­er a vast major­i­ty of body types, which, as you may have noticed by now, do not nec­es­sar­i­ly incor­po­rate yours.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - traditional tucked

Take a long hard look at your wardrobe and choose your favorite, best fit­ting, ready-to-wear shirt. Where does the hem­line sit? Chances are it is either on the longer or short­er side, even if you’ve nev­er per­ceived it as such.

Despite the fact length has a per­son­al ele­ment to it, there’s a rule of thumb to keep in mind for shirts meant to be worn tucked: the back of the dress shirt should cov­er your bot­tom almost entire­ly, allow­ing for at least 1.5’’ of tucked fab­ric all around the waist.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - untucked shirt

For tra­di­tion­al shirts that are tucked, the length should ide­al­ly cov­er your rear. Pho­to cour­tesy of Teach­ing Men’s Fash­ion.

Any short­er and you risk untuck­ing the shirt from basic move­ment. Any longer, you’ll end up with a bulge on the thigh and crotch area due to excess fab­ric.

While short­er ver­sions con­stant­ly require to be tucked in, going longer is not the opti­mum solu­tion either. This is such a press­ing issue that in the old days, dress shirts fea­tured a snap clo­sure at the bot­tom, over­lap­ping your crotch to make sure they would remain in the right place through­out the day.

Some tuxe­do and evening shirts have this perk as a means to make it look pris­tine at any black tie event.

Embracing a casual look with untucked dress shirts.

On the oth­er side of the spec­trum, cov­et­ed casu­al shirts are the embod­i­ment of more relaxed styles. While casu­al doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean slop­py or unpol­ished, it allows for added ver­sa­til­i­ty when wear­ing shirts, name­ly pulling off the untucked look.

Sim­i­lar­ly with for­mal dress shirts, a rule of thumb applies here as well when it comes to length: the hem­line should sit rough­ly at the mid to low­er edge of your trouser pock­et.

Even though it is not set in stone, this rec­om­men­da­tion aims to pro­vide a clean look and enough fab­ric length to cov­er any prone-to-show skin.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - perfect length

Steps to getting yourself an untucked shirt.

1. Dress Shirt Length: For tra­di­tion­al dress shirts, the over­all length is as shown below (i.e. 29″).  For an untucked vari­ant, the mea­sure­ment would in fact be 2.5″ short­er — or 26.5″ vs. 29″.

When mea­sur­ing the length for an untucked vari­ant, the length should be tak­en up to the mid-fly region of your jeans / trousers. Con­sid­er the image below to help you find the right mea­sure­ment.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - measuring up

2. Shirt bot­tom cut:  The shape of the bot­tom hem must be appro­pri­ate, with­out pro­nounced “tails” at the front or back — which is essen­tial­ly a clas­sic cut. Instead, you should select a square-cut bot­tom hem, like that of a polo shirt.

Deo Ver­i­tas offers both vari­ants when design­ing a cus­tom shirt per the images shown below.

Untucked Vs. Tucked In - A Guide To Dress Shirt Length - hem types

Tucked shirts have a pro­nounced tail where­as untucked shirts should fea­ture a square bot­tom hem. As shown from Deo Ver­i­tas’ shirt design­er


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3. Shirt fit: The fit must be impec­ca­ble and look tai­lored, even more so than on reg­u­lar dress shirts. As the entire shirt is on dis­play, it’s crit­i­cal to ensure a prop­er fit, so no excess fab­ric is cre­at­ing bulges on the front or back.

Fur­ther­more, due to its tee-like aes­thet­ic, the shirt should be fair­ly snug to the body, espe­cial­ly on the waist, with­out restrict­ing move­ment.

4. Details on the dress shirt: The fin­ish­ing details are very impor­tant, name­ly the fine stitch­ing of the hem­line and plack­et, mak­ing good crafts­man­ship that much more valu­able.

Most qual­i­ty mak­ers don’t sac­ri­fice details any­where, whether untucked and vis­i­ble or tucked-in, and out of sight. Stream­lined short­er point col­lars are a trendy choice that one should con­sid­er.

5. Shirt­ing fab­ric & pat­terns: Using an appro­pri­ate com­bi­na­tion of pat­terns and fab­rics for an untucked dress shirt can’t be under­scored, due to the inher­ent­ly casu­al nature of the look. Con­sid­er linens and flan­nels for fab­rics, and checks for pat­terns.

Linens by their very nature can look casu­al, so opt­ing to go with sol­id col­ors will still work well on untucked shirts. Light­weight poplins in white also look great casu­al and untucked. Deo Ver­i­tas’ col­lec­tion pro­vides a good start­ing point when you begin the fab­ric selec­tion process.  If you’re look­ing for a white dress shirt our pur­chas­ing guide is a great start­ing point and ref­er­ence.

If you’re look­ing for more info on how (and when) to wear an untucked shirt vs. a tucked in shirt, check out this great video tuto­r­i­al from youtube menswear influ­encer Ben Arthur.

What you need to know about untucked dress shirts.

Despite com­mon belief, untucked dress shirts pose a great alter­na­tive when it comes to putting togeth­er ele­gant attires, if cho­sen appro­pri­ate­ly.

Besides ready-to-wear options, which often do not por­tray its full poten­tial, the indus­try has wit­nessed a recent emer­gence of brands and com­pa­nies claim­ing to spe­cial­ize in untucked shirts.

An inter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non to say the least, giv­en they offer noth­ing cus­tom shirt­mak­ers haven’t been deliv­er­ing for sev­er­al years now.

These “spe­cial” shirts are sim­ply made with a square hem, cut short­er, and made slim­mer to resem­ble a t-shirt like sil­hou­ette, often over­look­ing the remain­ing afore­men­tioned aspects.

In fact, cus­tom shirt­mak­ers have been invest­ing more and more in pro­vid­ing the lat­est vari­a­tions on tra­di­tion­al dress shirts, includ­ing untucked ver­sions.

They will be able to assist you in choos­ing the appro­pri­ate length while adjust­ing oth­er mea­sure­ments to your indi­vid­ual body type and pro­vid­ing a wide range of fab­rics and style options to cus­tomize your shirt.

Untucked or tucked in? Pick a length for your dress shirts based on lifestyle. 

As with most oth­er ele­ments on a shirt, choos­ing the right length is sub­jec­tive to per­son­al taste and pur­pose.

If your lifestyle revolves around more for­mal envi­ron­ments, then untucked dress shirts are not like­ly to adjust, except in very par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tions. How­ev­er, if you’re allowed a more casu­al feel on your dai­ly rou­tine, then you should def­i­nite­ly con­sid­er a cou­ple of vari­a­tions on this style.

Just make sure to take into con­sid­er­a­tion all of the above and cus­tomize your new shirt accord­ing­ly.

Custom Dress Shirts from Deo Veritas