Everyone knows that a shirt half-tucked into a pair of blue jeans or a sleek skirt looks effortlessly cool, but only folks who've attempted a half-tuck realize just how hard it is to pull off. "Half-tucking is an art form that requires some practice," says celebrity stylist Samantha Brown. Luckily, with the right technique, you can master all manner of half-tucks—from the very chic French tuck to the more casual side tuck—on almost every top in your closet.
Lightweight tees, bulky sweaters, and even oversized hoodies can all be half-tucked with practice and a few handy hacks. If you're new to the half-in, half-out game, don't fret. Instead, read on as Brown, along with fashion expert and stylist Audree Kate López talk you through how to live your best half-tucked-shirt life.
Meet Our Expert
Samantha Brown is a professional and celebrity stylist based in New York City.
Audree Kate López is a fashion stylist and editor based in New York City.
There are two main methods for achieving a half-tucked shirt look: the French tuck and the side tuck. "The French tuck is classic," López says of the most famously effortless approach. It involves tucking about three-quarters of the front of your top into your waistband and, according to López, "creates seamless lines and is great for blouses, button-ups, and even sweaters."
The side-tuck is exactly what it sounds like—a top tucked into one side of your waistband. Alternatively, you can choose to tuck in one front half of a button-down shirt or cardigan. "If you want to do this side half tuck with a sweater, t-shirt, or sweatshirt," López explains, "take a couple of inches, about the size of your palm, and tuck that into your waistband where your first belt loop is next to the button.
When it comes to choosing between these two approaches, López focuses on silhouette and shape. "The side tuck is great for a sweater, sweatshirt, or bulkier fabric that will look weird if you tuck too much fabric into your jeans." Meanwhile, the French tuck "is great for elongating your legs, and adding waist definition and is the smoothest, 'cleanest' option."
Regardless how what half-tuck you're going for or what top you're tucking, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing a half-tuck. First up is fabric. "The softer and silkier the fabric, the easier it is," says Brown. It's not impossible to half-tuck a bulkier top like a cable knit sweater or a hoodie, but it does become harder to keep the silhouette of your 'fit smooth and tidy. To compensate, consider wearing pants with a roomier waistband or a skirt with plenty of stretch in the waist.
Aside from ease of tucking, it's important to note that almost all half-tucked tops are likely to move around throughout the day. No matter how thin the material of your shirt, you'll experience some shifting. This means you'll likely have to readjust or re-tuck your top a few times. It's also a good idea to bear in mind that more delicate fabrics like silk and linen are likely to wrinkle when tucked in.
Now that you know all there is to know about half-tucking a shirt, read on to learn exactly how to half-tuck different styles of tops from hoodies to button-downs, according to fashion experts.
How to Side-Tuck a Button-Down
When side-tucking a button down, rather than doing up the buttons and tucking in one side, López advises that you simply tuck in one side of the skirt, leaving the other side hanging down. "Button the shirt from your collar to your waistband and then tuck the left panel of the shirt, with buttons, into your pants or skirt and leave the right panel, no buttons, out," she explains, adding that, "to make sure the tucked part of the shirt lays nicely, tuck the shirt flatly into your pants, and then cuff the side of the shirt under so it's at an angle along your hip."
How to Half-Tuck a T-Shirt
When half-tucking a T-shirt, López has a simple rule of thumb: tucking in the fabric between the front two belt loops. This will ensure that your half-tuck looks balanced rather than sliding to one side or the other. Brown adds that it's also vital to smooth your shirt as you tuck it in to ensure a smooth silhouette.
How to French Tuck a Button-Down
Unlike the side-tuck, a French tucked button-down shirt has both shirt tails tucked into your waistband. Because of this, it's best to choose a lightweight, non-starchy fabric like silk or linen that won't bunch up once you've tucked it in. Adding a belt can also help keep lightweight, slippery fabrics in place.
How to Half-Tuck a Knit Tee
With a knit top or any shirt with a bit of drape to it, you want to ensure you don't create any pulling or puckering so keeping your tuck front and center is especially important. "You don’t want to fully tuck in the fabric at your hips so it can drape over the waistband to the untucked back part," says López.
How to Half-Tuck a Bulky Sweater
If you've got a bulky sweater, López has a hack for you. "Take a clear elastic hair band, create mini pigtails on each side of the sweater or at the belly button, and flip the pigtails under the shirt."
Unlike a standard tuck, this approach won't come undone throughout the day, although you may want to bring along a spare elastic or two in case the one hidden under your sweater snaps or loses elasticity throughout the day.
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