How to Determine Your Dress Shirt's Untucked Length?

There's a lot of debate about the length of your untucked dress shirt. Some say that it's untucked if it falls more than 3 inches below the waistline of your pants. If this is true, it should be shorter for taller men and longer for shorter ones.  So, the debate should probably be about the definition of "untucked" rather than the "shirt' itself.


Smiling young man in short dress shirt

Untucked shirt length is different for every person, so the best practice is to measure your shirt and compare it with standard measurements.

How long should your untucked Dress Shirt be?

For shorter men, an untucked shirt should be about half an inch or shorter in length when compared with someone taller. For example, if you are 5'10", go for a 21" long shirt. On the other hand, if you are 5'5", you want a 22" long shirt. So, you may choose how much longer or shorter you would like the untucked shirt for people about the same height as the person standing next to them.


Man putting his hand behind his head

One problem with this advice is that it assumes shirts are flat when measuring length. Actual shirts will stretch as you move around vertically. For example, if you need your untucked shirt to fall 20cm lower when standing, it should be 22" long when lying flat (but only 21" when lying flat in the other direction).

Another concern, it assumes all shirts have a rectangular cut. In reality, they haven't, and some shirtmakers like Van Heusen make have curved hems.

How to Measure an Untucked Shirt?

Tailor measuring dress shirt length

Do not fall for the myth that you cannot wear a regular shirt untucked. A casual shirt can be worn untucked, and if you follow this advice, the length will be just right for your height.

  • Lay your shirt flat on the table with buttons on the right side and bottom. Get the measurement on its side.
  • Measure the length of the hem along the side, ignoring any gusset or curved hem if present.
  • Compare this measurement to our measurements below for untucked shirts. Add about half an inch (15mm) to this measurement for taller people.
Dress shirt and sewing materials
  • If the shirt is longer than the desired length, you can always shorten it by taking in the hem. This way, your tailor will not need to guess what lengths each shirt should be.

Who Should Wear an Untucked Shirt?

You must have the correct length f you‘d like to wear your shirt untucked. If you are short, make sure it is not too long; if tall, it's not too short. Some men like their shirts to be longer than typical shirts. It includes guys with longer torsos, especially if they have muscular torsos.

Muscular man in blue untucked dress shirt

Some are not very tall but have long legs. On the other hand, tall men tend to wear their pants high on the waist, so the length of their shirt has the correct measurement. Shorter men do not have this option and must choose longer untucked shirts to accommodate their legs.

Short Torso

Men with short torsos (less than 34-35 inches) and long legs (greater than 32-34 inches). They fall between two extremes. Either they will have the shirt fall too low when standing or too high when sitting. Since it is impractical to have the shirt too high on the torso, they should choose longer untucked shirts.

Broad Shoulders

Young man with broad shoulders

Men with broad shoulders, large chests, and bigger waistlines have their shirttails tucked in during everyday activities. If you are a man with all three of these features, then chances are very high that your shirt is too short.

Athletic Men

Athletic men want to flaunt their physique with shorter, more stylish untucked shirts. And also those guys who have a combination of the short torso and long legs. They include many large men, so consider this advice carefully before choosing an untucked shirt length if you are overweight.

Tall Men

Tall man in white dress shirt

Taller men who need their untucked shirts to be just a bit shorter than most people. Be careful not to choose a short shirt since that will make it look shorter when standing. And wearing it untucked can stretch out your shirt quicker than usual.

Tucked or Untucked?

Some celebrities wear their shirttails untucked, while others prefer them tucked in. It is challenging to know which pant length people prefer since they wear both styles in most of their films: If you own a shirt that is longer than 16.5 inches when standing and relaxed, then the shirt may be untucked.

Some Conditions May Apply
Man wearing sunglasses in black dress shirt
  • A form-fitting dress shirt with a narrow torso. - in this case, it may be more comfortable for you to wear it tucked.
  •  A wide or round figure which is often called "big-boned," "thick," or even "fat" -  the extra length you need can help compensate for your larger frame.
  • Very tall, especially if you have an exceptionally long torso - untucked Shirts that are too short can look like they're choking you.
  • You work in a conservative profession such as law or finance and want to keep your shirt tucked in at all times.

Looking Good Both Ways

Man buttoning his shirt

We can't tell which pant length is better since it depends on the figure and body type. However, untucked shirts almost always hit their waistbands when standing, so these outfits are good examples of why both styles look good on tall men.

Trim Waistline

If you have a nice waistline, then the untucked shirt length which hits your waistband while standing will probably look better. An untucked shirt that is too long when standing and sitting is not flattering. However, if you are overweight, longer shirt lengths will help hide your gut more easily.

Tailored Shirt

Tailor sewing a shirt

If your untucked shirt is too short, then you can always get it professionally tailored if it's still in good condition. Just go to the tailor and tell them that you want to get it taken up by 2-3 inches or so, for instance. Don't expect to get exactly 16.5 inches, but at least you should be able to get it very close.

However, if you're going to do this regularly, then it's probably a better idea to get a longer untucked shirt in the first place. It can be pretty expensive if your shirt is too long and not regularly tailored.  Those cheaper designer shirts made with a non-standard length are more affordable.

Mysteries of Shirt Lengths

Man shopping for dress shirt

Why do some shirts look better shorter or longer than other shirts? Why did they make it that way in the first place? When you find your shirt too short, it's probably due to the fabric having less stretch (such as 100% cotton), or; it may not have a back pleat.

On the other hand, If your shirt is too long, you need to adjust the shoulder yoke and patch pockets (if any). Since they can make your untucked shirt looks like a tunic blouse.

Other Complications

Two men with untucked shirts

It should be long enough to sit on when leaning forward when wearing a tucked shirt. For this reason, the untucked shirt length for shorter men is usually longer than it otherwise would be.

  • This does not apply to tall men since their shirts are already long enough in the first place. They can still roll up their sleeves if they need to.
  • It is especially true for shorter men with short arms, overweight, or large belly. It's challenging and uncomfortable to tuck in their shirts because they tuck the extra fabric into their trousers. 
  • Tucking a shirt of someone with a large belly can also look funny. It's better to keep it untucked so you can breathe or even use your belly as an extra cushion when sitting on hard surfaces.

When to Tuck in Your Shirt?

Young man in casual clothes
  • When wearing a casual button-up without looking like a slob, tuck it in.
  • Also, when you are tucking in a shirt with a simple pattern, make sure the rest of your outfit is relatively casual.
  • Roll up the sleeves if they're long enough to reach the middle of your forearm, just like any other tucked shirt. A half-tuck can also look suitable for casual situations.
  • If your tucked shirt is made of more formal fabric, pants, and shoes, then the shirt should stay tucked in all day until after 6 pm at least.
  • A half-tuck can also look suitable for casual situations that are more formal compared to the rest of your outfit.

Exceptions to the Rules

Young man in untucked plaid shirt and jacket

There's always an exception to every style rule. Everyone looks good with the same outfit, but not every combination of colors and patterns will look good together. You can't please everyone, so it's best to find what works for you and forget about the rest. Being confident in your style will help you figure out what to wear.

  • Understand that the untucked shirt length is not going to be noticeable at all in most cases. Unless you are standing very close or looking down on someone's body.
Young man in untucked dress shirt and brief case


  • Shirt styles where the sleeves end around the middle of your forearm are generally noticeable since they look too long compared to most other shirts.
  • Due to the sleeves being noticeably more extended than usual, it can make someone look like an intellectual or artist depending on the situation and their hairstyle (long hair helps).

How to Pair With Your Other Clothes?

Clothes That Matched

Young man in dress shirt and shorts

In general, you can pair the untucked shirt with any not-tight or short pantsMake sure to pay attention to the color of your shirt and how it pairs with your shoes since this will significantly affect how casual or formal your outfit will look. If you're pairing a patterned untucked shirt with more formal pants, make sure the rest of your outfit doesn't look too casual as a whole.

When pairing untucked shirts, please pay attention to how visible your underwear is. It can be a problem with lighter-colored or low-quality fabrics that aren't opaque enough to cover what's underneath.

Those That Do Not Match

Man in untucked shirt and chinos

When pairing the untucked shirt with casual pants, try to avoid anything too tight or short since it's better to look more relaxed than overly formal in most cases. For example, don't pair your untucked shirt with cargo shorts, slim-fit jeans, or chinos that are too bootcut. Unless you want someone to assume you're getting ready for a workout. It's best to stick with looser pants closer to the style of sweatpants and pull them off correctly depending on the situation.

Final Thoughts

Smiling young man in open untucked shirt

When it comes down to it, if you want an untucked shirt, go ahead and try it out. Wearing the right outfit can help tremendously. But, if you're going for a casual look, it doesn't matter too much what you wear since people will expect something less formal. If that's not the case, take a little more care with your outfit, and everything should be fine.

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