To tuck or not to tuck—a shirt. Rich Jack is on the case.
Observing a tourist exit from a hotel in midtown Manhattan the other morning, I noted that he was wearing typical sightseeing garb—cargo shorts, graphic tee, sneakers and black socks—but I also noted that his t-shirt was tucked in.
Yes, tightly tucked in.
I was intrigued. As I continued my walk to work, I considered the gentleman’s stylistic affectation and concluded that his decision to tuck afforded him a sense of neatness and formality that set him apart from the throngs of other “untuckers.” He made an effort to fly above the typical. He was making a statement.
I began to wonder who set the rules for shirt behavior? If eight years of parochial school taught me anything, it was that God is spelled with a capital G and you tuck your shirt in! I was also taught that t-shirts are strictly casual and are to be worn out. I held to this steadfast rule over the years as styles and trends changed, save for a brief “Miami Vice” period that involved Italian sport jackets.
So, I consulted the modern oracle—the internet—and down the rabbit hole I went.
Seems there are others out there as curious as I am. A Google search of tucked shirts yielded 1,280,000 results with the first being a company named Untuckit whose sole purpose is to make fashionable shirts for men and women that are meant to be worn untucked.
What goes on here?
I discovered that GQ Magazine has established rules for Tucked vs. Untucked. The venerable New York Times suggested, “Dads can suddenly look stylish in a tucked in tee shirt.” The Art of Manliness offers advice as to “How and when to tuck in your shirt.” Real Men Real Style has had nearly 80K views of a video titled “7 Secrets to Keep Your Shirt Tucked In ALL DAY,” promising to “Stop Dress Shirts Puffing” and assorted Shirt-Tucking Hacks.”
There is a real thirst out there, folks.
The practical solutions offered merely exacerbated the issue. Seems there is a concern over “muffin topping”—the unsightly puffing out of a shirt that’s not staying tucked in. Enter the shirttail garter, an elastic, suspender-type accessory with upper clips that attach to your shirttail and lower clips that attach to your socks. This not only keeps your shirt tucked in but also keep your socks up. I would say muffin-topping would be the least of my problems if anyone I knew saw me in these.
And they come in patterns. Must we now drag socks into this?
Then there are Tucked Trunks, at $38 a pair—boxer briefs that go over your shirttails. They will not only keep your shirt from muffin-topping, but, I submit, also protect your virtue as they resemble a chastity belt. A running tally of orders displayed at the bottom of the Tucked Trunks website notified me that Fahad from Oman had just bought six pair. What does he know that we don’t?
Lest women think they are immune to the controversy, the website Babble adds the “Half Tuck”—tucking in just one shirttail—for those who just can’t make up their minds. Fashion is a cruel mistress.
So, what are we to do? So many questions, so many “solutions” and no definitive answers. As a native New Yorker, I have learned to roll with the punches, keep my head down and stop for nothing. Yet somehow I just had to look up at that tucked-in tourist.