Is the slightly disheveled look finally on the decline? It doesn’t appear to be when it comes to facial hair, but what about clothes? It seems that the popularity of the “wrinkled for life” oxford, or the pre-frayed collar are beginning to go the way of the dodo. This isn’t to say that all blends of the casual with the formal are passé, but it does mean it’s time to start approaching those trends from early 2k with a bit more hesitation.

Before you go throwing out all your fashionably distressed threads and restock, let’s take a look at a simple and ambiguously acceptable fashion choice a little more closely: tucking or not tucking a button-up.

tucked or untucked

The basic rules have been, and most likely always will be, untouchable. If you’re attending an event where you must be wearing a tie, tuck in. If it’s a barbecue and your wearing denim, let it out. But even though these seem like fashion standards, you no-doubt have been thinking of exceptions you’ve seen recently. Fashionable musicians arriving on red carpets with thin ties, shirt half untucked, and a suit coat slightly wrinkled; or a staged barbecue in a fashion add with buttoned up shirts tucked tightly in to cuffed pants… with bow-ties!

So where is the true balance? Is it subjective? The advice that seems best suited is to follow the rules that always seem to hold true. It is possible that you are a fashion expert: edgy, confident, able to make fashion contradictions seem relevant and chic. But most likely, you are an average guy who likes to look good. And by good, I don’t mean boringly adequate. I mean, people notice you and how well put together you are without the air of effort. Following the classic notions of formality and informality allow you to look classy and current, they are never a bad decision.

Another simple means of deciding whether to tuck or not is the cut of the shirt. If the button up has a mostly flat or relatively shapeless bottom, it’s usually no problem to wear that out. However, if the shirt is long in front and back with deep curves, tuck it in.

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