- Gary Gershoff / Getty Images
- Tan France is imposing the French tuck on the world.
- The French tuck is the act of tucking the front of your shirt into your pants while leaving the rest of it out.
- The “Queer Eye” star frequently inflicts the French tuck on his victims on the show, who wouldn’t know a dress shirt from a tank top.
- The French tuck is an awful look, though – and I got some experts to back me up.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“You’re going to have every straight man around the world doing a French tuck,” Karamo Brown tells his “Queer Eye” costar and resident fashionista Tan France in one episode.
The French tuck, for those few unaware, is the style where one tucks the front of their shirt into their pants but not the back.
Despite his name, France did not invent the French tuck – its origins are unclear. He is, however, the style’s biggest proponent.
Be it a farmer who’s got no time for himself, an introverted Walmart clerk, or a 60-something divorcee, whoever the “Queer Eye” team make over, one thing is certain: they will be ending the show with the front of their shirt tucked firmly into their pants, whether they like it or not.
- Netflix UK & Ireland / YouTube
And joking though he may have been, Brown’s prediction has not fallen far from the truth.
I was forced to consider this when watching Manchester City play soccer recently because their illustrious manager Pep Guardiola was there on the touchline, showing off a fully-executed tuck à la France himself. If France’s top-tucking rhetoric has diffused into the upper echelons of English soccer, is there really anywhere it hasn’t reached?
As I watched Guardiola pace around the manager’s box in his usual animated style I reached a conclusion: The French tuck looks absolutely horrible.
It sucks. It really does.
Here are my issues with the French tuck
- It looks like you thought about tucking your shirt in but couldn’t decide either way. What you end up with is something that’s not quite casual and not quite smart – it just looks messy.
- It also sucks in your gut, which is great, but creates a contrast with your butt, which looks bigger in comparison with the garment bunched up over it.
- Because the shirt is typically only tucked into the middle of your crotch area, it also billows out at your hips, making them appear wider than they are. Not a trait men typically aim for.
I tried the French tuck so that you don’t have to:
- Tom Murray / Insider
- Tom Murray / Insider
The full tuck is clearly a lot more flattering for my body than the French tuck, which, conversely, makes me look sloppy and disheveled.
The worst part of the French tuck, though, is the lie that it stands for. It embodies a faux nonchalance that says: “Oh, is my shirt not tucked in properly? I didn’t even notice.” But you did notice. You noticed when you tucked it in that way, and there’s something mildly pathetic about putting more effort into making it look like you’ve made no effort.
I obviously have some strong opinions on this, so don’t just take my word for it.
I spoke to a number of men’s style experts to get their view on the matter – and I’m happy to say I’m feeling pretty validated.
‘The French tuck is, as I like to call it, ‘the indecisive look”
Personal stylist and men’s shopper Sarah Gilfillan told me that, as I suspected, “the French Tuck feels too studied and try-hard.”
“I think most men, and certainly most of my clients, prefer straightforward tuck it in or leave it out advice,” she said.
Fashion stylist and image consultant Phill Tarling said simply: “The French tuck is, as I like to call it, ‘the indecisive look.’
“Not a look that will last. Just commit to tucked in or out.”
- Christian Vierig / Getty Images
Meanwhile, Colin Hunter, CEO of custom menswear company Alton Lane, said that the French tuck was “a far cry from the Italian concept of sprezzatura.”
Sprezzatura appears in Baldassare Castiglione’s 1528 “The Book of the Courtier,” and is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”
While the French tuck ultimately seeks to appear effortless, it’s fairly obvious that the wearer has carefully curated their look.
“When it comes to tucking in your shirt, generally it is best to go one way or the other. Default with tucked in and for certain occasions, you can go untucked,” Hunter advised.
If you’re set on a French tuck, there is a way of making it look better
The French tuck is more suited to some people than others. If you have a rugged aesthetic (think tattoos and a beard, probably) you’re more likely to be able to pull off this look, whereas, if you’re the type who normally opts for a more preened, preppy outfit, you’re almost certainly better off going one way or the other.
“Compare David Beckham doing a french tuck to [British actor and comedian] David Walliams and the rule becomes obvious,” personal stylist Daniel Johnson said.
“The latter man’s style is more accustomed to well-tailored classic suits and the former, well, whatever the hell he wants.”
- James Devaney / GC Images / Ricky Vigil M / GC Images
It also depends on what you’re wearing. Gilfillan – who has styled the likes of Ewan McGregor and members of Coldplay – warned that a t-shirt is much more suited to a French tuck than a regular shirt, “especially if it’s a little big to give it more shape.”
She also advised making the tuck off centre towards the side of your body rather than central, which David’s son Brooklyn shows off below – like father, like son.
- David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images
I will say that the French tuck does look better here on Brooklyn because he’s pulled it off to the side – there’s something slightly more believable about a side tuck than one straight down the middle.
However, I still think he would have looked better if he’d just tucked his shirt in.
Tan definitely (probably) prefers a full tuck
The most damning piece of evidence that the French tuck is bad? Its biggest proponent Tan France blatantly prefers a full tuck himself.
During my (sort of) extensive research for this piece, I scrolled through countless photos of France in a variety of outfits, and the overwhelming style that the fashion guru opted for was a full tuck – not a French one.
- Charley Gallay / Getty Images for Beverly Center
So why is France imposing the French tuck on the world? Only time will reveal his deeper, darker purpose, because – as we’ve proved – it can’t be for style reasons.