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As a fat guy myself, I’ve often wondered if tucking in my shirt is the best option to streamline my appearance. Sleek like an oiled cow, ya know?
As a kid, I had to tuck my shirt in every Sunday and I found that it was a great way to get made fun of. Everything that I had managed to hide during the week at school was now on full display.
Apparently, a tucked-in shirt can make anyone look more polished and put-together but, since all fashion advice seems to be directed at people built nothing like me, how does this style choice affect those of us carrying a few extra pounds?
Well, it turns out that when done right, tucking in your shirt can emphasize your best features and downplay any problem areas. Here’s what I’ve learned about whether fat guys should tuck in their shirts, or not:
In general, tucking in a shirt or not is dictated by the activity or event and not by a person’s size. While tucking a shirt may be slimming for some body types, most overweight men are more comfortable finding shirts that fit the occasion but can remain untucked.
Table of Contents
4 Factors to Consider When Tucking in a Shirt
First off, the choice to tuck or not to tuck depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of shirt and the outfit you’re wearing, your body type (are you a guy with a big belly?), etc.
So let’s talk about how you can make this decision for yourself.
1. Your Body Type
If you’re a fat guy, a big part of dressing (if you’re trying to be attractive rather than comfortable) is about drawing attention to your best assets and “hiding” the others.
So, if you’re a big guy that happens to carry a bunch of weight on your lower half (as in, you have huge thighs and need special jeans) then tucking your shirt in can be advantageous.
A tucked-in shirt can sometimes accentuate a larger bust (yes, I’m talking about man boobs) or midsection, which may not be desirable. On the other hand, leaving a shirt untucked can add volume to your overall shape, potentially making you seem larger.
This is something you’ll have to figure out by looking at your own body but you’re looking to strike the best possible balance. In short, if you have a giant belly, tucking may not be your friend.
2. The Occasion
For me personally, the occasion is the biggest factor in deciding whether or not to tuck in my shirt. If not tucking in my shirt would make me look out of place, I figure it’s better off to look fat but presentable and not draw attention to myself.
However, for most events, you can dress up (or down) and still choose a shirt that does not need to be tucked in. For example, polo shirts can be worn either tucked or untucked, depending on the occasion while band shirts and streetwear should generally be left untucked.
So, in short, if the occasion is formal, follow cultural norms and just tuck in your shirt. You’ll just want to find a shirt long enough to do so and still look decent.
3. Fit of the Shirt
When I say “fit” here’s what I mean: if you plan on tucking in your shirt, get a shirt that fits well enough to tuck in.
Nothing is less flatting that getting a shirt that’s a bit too short and pulling it way down to tuck it in so that it’s stretched taut and your nipples are just about sticking out of the neck hole.
A well-fitted shirt with the right length can look great both tucked and untucked but, depending on your build, you may need longer shirts if you’re going to get all the way around your belly.
4. The Fabric Type
Lastly, the type of fabric of my shirt also affects whether or not I tuck it in.
Some materials might be more comfortable for tucking in, while others might wrinkle or feel too hot. For example, cotton shirts are generally easy to tuck in and can look great throughout the day, while more delicate fabrics such as silk might require extra care and attention to keep them looking neat and crisp.
Specific Shirt Styles and (My) Tucking Rules
Do note that I have made all these rules up. With that being said, unlike most fashion columnists, I have extensive experience living as a fat man.
So here’s my general guide:
When it comes to t-shirts, I usually don’t bother tucking them in, as they’re primarily designed for casual wear. If you’re looking for a more polished look, just wear a polo rather than a tucked-in T-shirt. It will look more intentional and still be comfy.
Polo shirts are a bit more versatile in terms of tucking. Depending on the length of the shirt and the look I’m going for, I might tuck it in or leave it untucked. In general, I choose a polo that hits the right length to avoid tucking it in.
However, if I’m going for a more polished appearance, I’ll tuck the polo shirt in and pair it with a nice belt.
With dress shirts, just tuck them in. Having an untucked dress shirt that tents out over your belly doesn’t fool anyone about your size and just makes you look unkempt. It’s far better to look fat and polished than fat-buy-trying-to-hide-it and less polished.
Decent dress shirts usually have a curved hem with an elongated front and tail, making them perfect for staying tucked in throughout the day.
Lastly, when it comes to button-down shirts, the general rule of thumb is to tuck them in if they’re meant to be tucked.
Shirts with visible “tails” or hems that vary in length should always be tucked. Wearing a button-down with tails untucked usually comes off as juvenile and less polished.
Overall, the key to looking good, regardless of body type, is to understand and embrace the various shirt styles regardless of your size.
Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as “tuck or not?” but includes several other considerations (which I hope you’re now ready to confront).
Adapt your wardrobe to fit your personal style and comfort level while making the most of these guidelines to create a well-put-together look.
Now that we’ve mastered the shirt-tucking part, let’s move on to two other factors that affect your decision, your pants and belt.
Shirts That Nobody Should Tuck In
Now that we have covered a bit of the nuance about the common tuckable shirts, here are a few that you should never, ever, tuck in:
Tank Tops. Just don’t do it. Tucking in tank tops is for people who want to get fancied up to head to Walmart and tuck in their tanktop before leaving their trailer.
Rugby Shirts. Not meant for tucking. Rugby shirts are designed for a more sporty and casual look so it’s best to leave your rugby shirt untucked to maintain the aesthetic.
Guayaberas & Hawaiian Shirts. Both of these are meant to be casual (and comfortable) so tucking them in would be at odds with the essence of the shirt. And nobody should be violating a shirt’s essence.
If you want to look put together as a fat guy with a tucked-in shirt, you’re going to have to put a bit more thought into the exercise than simply stuffing your shirts into your pants.
Here are a few types of tucks to add to your repertoire that will make you much more competent:
For a Basic Tuck, stuff your shirt into your pants. At least, that’s the gist of it.
Just be sure to do it before you pull up your pants at all and be sure that the shirt is nice and flat against your body.
This is probably the easiest and most common technique employed when tucking a shirt.
The Military Tuck takes the Basic Tuck a step further. First, tuck in my shirt as usual, and then pinch the excess fabric on either side of my waist. Next, I fold the excess fabric toward your back and smooth it out to create a more tailored look.
While this technique may accentuate your belly a bit more, it does give the appearance of a more fitted shirt which is usually enough to overcome the negatives of looking a few pounds heavier.
This is especially effective if you’re wearing a jacket or suit and don’t want a floppy wrinkled shirt underneath.
For the Underwear Tuck, you’ll want to first tuck your shirt into your underwear before tucking it into your pants. This may sound a little strange, but it helps to hold the shirt in place and prevents it from untucking throughout the day.
This is my go-to method if I’m going to be active (like setting up for something at work) as I really dislike having my shirt untucked and my hairy back sticking out.
Do note that your risk your underwear sticking out if your pants sag so choose your underpants accordingly…
Some people are a bit weirded out by this method so you’ll have to give it a try and see if it works for you.
You’ve probably seen Shirt Stays before even if you don’t know the name for them.
In function, they’re the same as those little clips that keep your fitted sheet from slipping on your bed. One end clips to the end of your tucked-in shirt while the other attaches to either your socks or a band around your thigh.
While not super comfortable, shirt stays are a must for formal events when you really don’t want your shirt to escape your pants.
The Right Combo For Tucking (Shirt, Belt, Pants)
When selecting a shirt, pay close attention to the fit around your torso. A snug but comfortable fit is what we’re aiming for. You don’t want the fabric to cling to our body and accentuate every curve, but we also don’t want it to hang loosely like a curtain.
A tailor is our best friend in this department and you’ll want to either get custom-made shirts or have your shirts tailored if you really want to flatter your figure (or lack thereof in my case…)
A properly fitting belt not only does wonders for my overall look but it not only keeps my pants securely in place. It also helps create a defined separation between my upper and lower body, which can be visually slimming.
I prefer belts that are not too wide or too narrow and that have a simple, understated buckle, as these tend to blend seamlessly with any outfit (and the buckle doesn’t cut into my belly).
In my experience, a great tuck all begins with the pants you choose to wear.
When picking out pants, consider factors like the rise (the distance from the crotch to the top) and the fit around your hips. I find that pants with a mid to high-rise work best for tucking in my shirt, as they sit on the true waist or a bit higher, ensuring a smooth tuck and a more streamlined appearance.
You can also tuck into jeans and chinos as they come in varying cuts and rises to accommodate different events and styles.
Now, be sure that your pants fit comfortably around your natural waist (for God’s sake, don’t wear them under your belly if you’re going to tuck your shirt in).
You’ll want pants that stay up (you may want to consider suspenders) but aren’t too tight around your hips as tucking your shirt creates a bit of extra volume.
At the end of the day, figuring out whether or not you should tuck in your shirt as a fat guy isn’t rocket science. Are you going somewhere that you should tuck in your shirt? Awesome, choose a shirt that can be tucked in and match it to your outfit.
If not, just do whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident. Happy tucking!