Polo shirts are a versatile addition to any man's wardrobe. Whether they're dressed up or down, they make the wearer look smart and presentable. But, when exactly should a man tuck in a polo shirt? The answer depends on a variety of factors - including the setting, the company, outfit and accessory considerations, the shirt in question, and current fashion trends.
So When Does a Man Tuck in a Polo Shirt?
There are a few factors to take into account when deciding whether to tuck a polo shirt in or leave it out.
The first thing you need to do is figure out the occasion. Are you going to work or are you going to the mall? Going to work in a polo shirt, in most cases, will require a tucked in shirt in order to reflect the necessary business-like image. Similarly, at special dinners where polos and khakis or other slacks will be worn, the shirt should generally be tucked in.
Going to the mall or something along those lines, however, is a casual affair and leaves you to do whatever you'd like. On off days, it could just boil down to the temperature. For instance, if it's hot, leave the shirt untucked to prevent yourself from overheating. On the other hand, if it's cold outside, tuck it in to retain that body heat!
The Company You Keep
The second question you should ask yourself is: who will you be with or likely to bump into? Even if it's not a work event, are you likely to run into clients? Or will you be around your friends, grilling out and having fun? If in doubt, do what you think everyone else will probably be doing. If there's a chance you'll be bumping into clients, it might be smart to tuck the shirt in just in case you need to project the more professional look of the two options. Think about the occasion carefully ahead of time, and the people you will be spending time with, and adjust your look accordingly.
You also need to consider what you plan to wear your shirt with. You can go either way with shorts, though untucked is usually the norm. The more casual the shorts (like cargos, for example), the more likely it is that you should leave the shirt untucked. Blue jeans can also go either way, but can look great (even for a date) with a tucked in shirt. With khakis or other trousers, the shirt should usually be tucked in. This is often an acceptable look in offices, especially when casual Fridays are a part of the dress code.
If you're still unsure about whether to tuck your shirt in or leave it out - just be sure you have a belt and the decision will be made for you. There is one case when you should always wear your shirt untucked and one when you should always have it tucked in. Leave your shirt untucked if you can't find your belt and tuck it in if you decide to wear one.
The Shirt Itself
The shirt itself must also be taken into consideration. A quick tip for you: a shirt is meant to be worn untucked if its hem at the bottom is completely straight. If it isn't in any way straight (that is to say: the hem is curved and ranges in length, instead of being straight all the way around), then you should always tuck it in. If you leave it out in this instance, it makes you look untidy and like a teen rebel at high school defying the rules of uniform.
Ultimately, it all depends on the look you're going for. Sometimes it's trendy to look a little scruffy and rough around the edges. In this case, it might be okay to leave the shirt untucked for casual occasions, or even for smarter occasions if you're wearing a jacket over it. Other times, it's fashionable to look smart. Think "geek chic"! If you're trying to pull off this look, there's no way you'd leave your shirt untucked or unbuttoned. It's important to consider the overall fashion style you're trying to project and then make sure your shirt look mirrors this.
Going Casual or Dressy
Because polo shirts can be worn in so many settings and with different types of pants and shorts, the question of when does a man tuck in a polo shirt is inevitable. Tucking the shirt in will, of course, take things up a notch, and when worn with khakis or other dress pants, can be used as part of a business casual wardrobe. Wearing the polo shirt out is very casual no matter what it's paired with, so wearing the shirt untucked is best saved for days off and casual get-togethers.
The Short Answer
In order to make the final decision, always take into account what kind of occasion it is, who is likely to be there, what you're planning to wear the polo shirt with, the style of the shirt itself and current fashion trends. The short answer to when does a man tuck in a polo shirt is during business casual events, sit-down dinners, if the shirt tail is extra long, and when you're unsure about whether the shirt should be tucked or untucked.