Several reader requests rolled in for guidance on pant-tucking. There were enough such requests that I’m gonna tackle this issue, even though I’m not much of a tucker myself! Please feel free to give your two cents in the comments if you have other tips or personal preferences to share … but to get us started, here are my opinions and observations about this extremely popular pairing.
WHEN NOT TO TUCK
Despite its pragmatic appeal to those of us living in climates prone to sloppy-wet weather, and despite seeming like an easy way to spruce up a pair of jeans, this style can be tough to pull off. Truly. So consider skipping it …
- If you are at all self-conscious about calf width or overall leg proportion: Unless you are extremely careful about where those boots hit your leg, you may end up creating some inadvertent disproportionality. You might make your legs look stumpy or your calves look wide … and if you live in fear of such things, it you might not want to monkey with this look.
- If you have trouble getting your boots zipped: Jamming some nice, thick denim in there isn’t gonna help. You can certainly tuck jeans into wide-mouthed and/or shorter boots, but the look is generally sleeker and more flattering with tall zip boots. (More on that shortly.)
- If you own nothing but flares: All that extra cloth at the hem? That’s gonna end up wadded up on your ankle bones. Not comfy.
I do NOT believe this style to be the exclusive domain of tall, slender women. I’ve observed women of all body types tucking their pants into boots, and the ones who pull it off best are the ones who pay careful attention to how it affects their overall proportions. Petite women with thick calves who shove their jeans into short Uggs don’t fare nearly as well as petite women with thick calves who pair dark jeans with tall, slim-fitting dark boots. But I’m getting ahead of myself … just wanted to say upfront that anyone can do this. It’s just a question of doing it carefully.
As I mentioned above, I feel like this look is most successful with tall, zippered boots. You want to show off the shape of your entire leg, and a tighter boot lends itself to that kind of show-offery. Behold S. of academichic:
Audi of Fashion for Nerds goes a completely different route. Not only are her boots a contrasting color, but they are shorter, non-zippered, wide-mouthed cowboy boots. And I’ll level with you, my friends: This look works for Audi because her legs are extremely long and extremely slender. If I tucked my jeans into a pair of mid-calf cowboy boots I’d look like one of the seven dwarves about to head down into the mines. It can certainly be done, but is best left to the most willowy of women.
Much shorter wide-mouthed boots can work, too. If the curve of your calf is visible, that pairing can be flattering. If you go this route, choose a boot that hits just above the ankle.
From what I’ve seen, heeled boots will work best for petite and average-height women. Since you’re dividing your leg in half at the knee, any added height is beneficial. Heeled boots will also create a more ladylike, sophisticated vibe, whereas flat boots may scream “equestrian,” “Harley enthusiast,” or “fisherwoman.” But a modern flat or slight wedge on a taller wearer can look chic and sleek. All down to taste and comfort level, as always.
Again, as noted above, flares will not work. Bootcuts will be fairly uncomfortable. Even straightlegs will bunch a bit when crammed into jeans. You’re basically gonna need either true skinnies or close-fitting cropped jeans.
Clare of Between Laundry Days. looks fantastic in her super sexy, super tight gray skinnies tucked into tall brown boots. Notice that, even on a woman as slender as Clare, there is some bunching around the top of the boot. That is totally fine if you ask me, and, frankly, entirely unavoidable.
Cropped jeans will alleviate potential ankle-bunches, but still need to fit closely to the leg … and be long enough that they don’t constantly pop out of your boot tops!
Non-jean pants can also be tucked into tall boots, of course, but the same rules apply: Skinny, or close-fitting and cropped. And, ideally, a color that is close in value to that of the boots.
This is down to your comfort level, friends. In an ideal world, you’d wear a top that ends about three fingers above your crotch point – a flattering length for shirts worn with pants. Again, since the boots lop off your legs at the knee, you’ll need to create some counterbalance by showing the maximum amount of leg. Otherwise, stumpification may ensue. But if you, like me, would rather be thrown into the rotating barrel of a cement mixer than reveal your hips and butt encased in a pair of skinnies, go tunic. Go short tunic, but go tunic.
You can also try a shorter/more fitted top with a longer cardigan, coat, duster, blazer, or other outer layer that will shield your bootay from prying eyes.
I don’t own skinnies or close-fitting crops. And honestly, I tend to look like a disproportionate, unhappy poseur with my jeans tucked into my boots. So I generally go this route instead:
Just like Erin of Work with What You’ve Got, I’m partial to tucking my nice thick, stretchy, soft LEGGINGS into my tall boots. And, generally, black leggings into black boots for optimum leg-flattery. There’s no bunching, it works with flat boots even if you’re a shortie, and tunics work perfectly. Much more to this curvy girl’s liking, thank you very much. (Though, as you can see, it looks fabulous on considerably less curvy Erin, too.)
Hope this little tutorial was helpful … holler if you’ve got any other tips to contribute, or questions left unanswered. As I said above, I’m not exactly an expert on this topic, so all suggestions, recommendations, and personal preferences are welcome. Let’s hear ’em!
Top image courtesy Malingering.