I remember hearing Wolfgang Puck’s wife say that he could wake up in the morning on an ordinary day and make the best egg you’d ever had. He could take something simple, and make it sublime.
I am not Wolfgang Puck. My eggs are very ordinary, and I am not a dash-of-this and pinch-of-that kind of cook. I follow recipes. But when it comes to seasoning an outfit (am I taking this analogy too far?), I’ve learned a few tricks that take an ordinary look and make it extraordinary. They’re the tweaks that stylists use in your favorite fashion magazines and websites. They can be summed up in three words: Tuck, Cuff, and Roll. (Kind of like Stop, Drop and Roll, but far less life-threatening.)
Here, how to make any outfit cuter in 3 Easy Steps.
Tuck (Your Shirt In)
To tuck or not to tuck, that is the question. And oh how I wish there was an easy answer. As a short-waisted short girl (double whammy, right?), I used to be vehemently anti-tucking, but now, with the right outfit, on the right day, it can work. While the long line of a tunic will probably always be a more naturally flattering choice for me, I can totally rock a tuck, and often do, especially when it’s a little off-kilter, like the ones shown here. Here, how to answer that question yourself:
- How do you feel about your tummy? If you don’t love your belly, adding a little extra padding there in the form of extra fabric isn’t going to help, but some strategic draping (see half-tuck, below) can disguise a little pooch and even make it appear half its size.
- Are you short-waisted or long-waisted? If you’re long-waisted, you can wear anything you want around your waistline, provided you are okay with your mid-section. If you are short-waisted, proceed with caution, and decide on an outfit by outfit basis. When in doubt, take a selfie and check yourself out in the picture. For some reason, it makes everything clearer.
- Would your outfit look cuter if you tucked? Does your outfit need a little something extra? Do you have a pretty waistline, belt buckle, or other detail to show off? Are you wearing a slouchy outfit that would benefit from some waist definition? Then this might be the day you try one of the tucks, below. Slouchy sweaters and baggy blouses are especially good candidates for this. (Note: Longer shirts of thicker material are not designed to be tucked, and will always look bulky. Skip tucking these.)
Ahhh, the half-tuck. It signals instant coolness, and it’s so simple, really. There are two types of half-tucks: the front tuck and the regular half-tuck.
The front tuck is when you just tuck in the front quarter of your top. This works best, in my opinion, with thinner fabrics like tees and tanks.
How to do it: Just tuck in the top all the way around, and then untuck everything except that front quarter, right around the buttonhole of your pants. This shows off the cute belts in the images below, and also defines their waistlines.
The regular half-tuck is easiest with a button-down, where you literally let one whole side hang out while the other side remains tucked, but there are variations.
How to do it: Tuck the whole shirt in. Untuck half. It really is that simple, and virtually impossible to mess up.
The Full Tuck
This is the classic, waist-defining tuck. It’s great for a more tailored look or with full skirts, and also works well with fitted tops that don’t have as much impact in a half-tuck. It’s also a dressier look that works well in professional settings, and it’s making a major comeback.
How to do it: Tuck tightly, Lift your arms above your head. Done. 🙂
One final way to add definition to your waist, without tucking? The knot. Simply knot your shirt in the front, at the side, or in the back. Some shirts are even being sold pre-knotted for your convenience. 🙂
Cuff (Your Sleeves)
I am a little bit ashamed to say I spent entirely too much time trying to decide if it should be cuff your sleeves and roll your jeans, or roll your sleeves and cuff your jeans, but I finally chose one and forged ahead bravely. I’m a real trooper. So, while you can easily roll your sleeves (man, I said it again!) or just shove them up your arms, willy-nilly, there is a technique when you want a dressier or more polished look, a la J. Crew. It’s been going around the interwebs for a while now, but in case you missed it, it looks something like this.
Notice how pretty that cuff peeking out looks. Fancy, no?
And since The College Prepster made this pretty picture showing you how it’s done, I’m just going to let it do the talking. Which, as you know, is rare.
(Note: This works for guys, too, by the way).
Roll (Your Pants)
So, since all good things seem to come in threes, there are essentially three ways to roll up your pants: the wide tuck, the skinny tuck, and the half tuck.
This is for skinny jeans. Easy-peasy. Always cuff your skinny jeans above our booties. Always. Do not tuck them in. You want that sliver of skin. If it’s too cold, wear knee-high boots. (Okay, maybe I can be bossy after all. Sheesh, I need to lay off the caffeine already).
Wide tuck is best for wider-leg jeans. Who What Wear suggests a double roll, rolling up one inch at first, and then two inches, and then smoothing it out.
This is the cool, but slightly indecisive, tuck. Who What Wear suggests rolling it up 4 inches, scrunching a little, and then bringing the hem down slightly for an artfully undone look.
And now, of course, three things to buy if you want to try one of these out.
3 Style Essentials to Tuck, Cuff and Roll
I hope you found these styling tips helpful. These really are the details that set an outfit apart and make it extra-cute!