I have a question that some friends and I had been going back and forth on for a while. For women, when wearing “business casual” (nice pants and a button-down, but no jacket), is it necessary to tuck in the shirt? I think so, because the equivalent men’s outfit would definitely have the shirt tucked in, but I wanted to get your expert advice.
Men and women are not created equally when it comes to this professional image rule! In most industries (i.e. financial services, law and banking), men should tuck. Women, on the other hand, have more options, regardless of industry. Here are some insights:
The trick to carrying off an un-tucked shirt in a business casual environment and not looking sloppy or like you are half dressed is to be mindful of how it fits, how long it hangs on your frame and how it compliments the other items you are wearing. Shirts with long tails should be tucked. Those with a moderate tail can be left un-tucked. Often, you can treat the shirt like a jacket and layer it over a well-coordinated tee so that it has a more layered and therefore more professional look. This is a great choice for women with large bust lines who have a hard time getting a shirt to button and not pull. It is also easy to belt a shirt that is un-tucked which can add a business-appropriate style element and also waist interest (aka the sought after hour-glass shape!)
Also, some shirts have slits on each side which are indicators that they should not be tucked. These are actually referred to as shirt jackets in our business.
Hope this helps. One more tip — if you are 5’4″ or under, select shirts from the petite department. The silhouette has been scaled down for petite proportions.