Ask Alison: How Do I Properly Tuck My Shirt Into My Skirt?

It sounds so easy, right? WRONG.

Feb 28, 2014 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

Hi Alison,
I work at a 'serious' office, so the dress code is skirts, nice pants, blouses and heels. Pencil skirts, especially high-waisted ones, are my jam and I wear them daily. But here is my problem -- how does one properly tuck their shirt into their skirt?
No matter what I do, I can see shirt lines across my bum. I'm not wearing skirts that are too tight -- this happens even when I wear a skirt that is one size too big. Could it be because I am not wearing exceptionally expensive or structured skirts? I like a little wiggle room, as I have a size 10 waist and a size 12 butt.
In the photo below, I'm wearing a black silky blouse, a black camisole under the blouse and this exact ponte knit skirt from Target:
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Women's ponte knit skirt, $13.78 at Target.

What can I do to banish shirt lines seen through my skirts?
Thanks! 
Katie
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Yes, I made Katie go into the bathroom at her work and selfie her own butt. 

Katie, take heart. I have this exact same problem with actresses on set all the time. While my costuming specialty is dressing teenagers up like ninja trees, I do actually style some foxy ladies in proper business wear from time to time. 
 
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With my lil' buddy Dillon Lane

The visible shirt line isn't always a result of less expensive clothing -- I've seen it happen with pieces from Balenciaga all the way down to Kmart duds. But a ponte knit skirt is notorious for showing every little bump and rumple. Which is incredibly annoying, since it's also the most functional and forgiving fabric for someone with a small waist-to-butt ratio. 
 
A skirt with a very structured lining helps, but doesn't completely eradicate the problem. But don't fret! I have three possible solutions for you to keep rockin' the work skirts you already own -- minus the advertisement to the world of where your shirttail ends. 
 
1) Have your shirt hemmed.
When the tail of a blouse hits right across the widest part of your butt, the telltale line is super obvious. Having the shirttail shortened so that line rests right in the hidden curve at the small of your back/the top of your bum crack is a great way to render it invisible. The higher the line is, the less visible it becomes.
 
If you go this route, ask your tailor to finish the alteration with a very thin rolled hem -- so the resulting seam is very flat and smooth. This type of hem is a lot less detectable under clothes. You can also ask for a serged hem, which is technically an unfinished-looking hem, but has even less bulk than a simple rolled hem. It's only suitable for a shirt you will always be tucking in, as it looks a little rough, but the seam barely shows under clothes.  
 
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Top left: regular shirt tail hem. Top right: rolled hem. Bottom: serged hem

A less-bulky hem helps the shirttail lie as flat against your body as possible, cutting its visibility in half. Since you'll be wearing your shortened shirt with a high waisted skirt, keeping it tucked in won't be a problem. You can also fake this alteration by folding your shirt tail under and 'hemming' it to hit you right in the small of your back using every TV and film costumer's special secret -- some good old fashioned double-stick toupee tape. 
 
I will now confess that I sometimes just staple an actress's shirt tail hem to shorten it when we are out of time and money on a show. But please, keep that fact under your hat. (Oh, and make sure the flat part of the staple is towards your skin.)
 
2) Tuck your shirttail into a pair of granny or long-leg undies.
Sometimes simply wearing a higher waisted, form fitting undergarment that you can tuck your shirt into cuts the problem down significantly. (You can also just fold your shirt tail under and keep it in place at the small of your back with a high-waisted pair of undies -- no alterations necessary.)
 
I don't like shapewear for any other reason than exactly this -- providing a smooth, sleek line to make clothes lay better on your body and hiding fabric rumples. 
 
 
3) Go for broke and turn your shirts into bodysuits
This is what we do on shows when we absolutely, positively do not want an actress's shirt to come untucked in the middle of a take for any reason. (Usually it's an action scene requiring our leading lady to jump, kick, or fight.) This solution is also what landed me in a busy public bathroom with an actress who had just pissed herself, but never mind that story right now.
 
Donna Karan was the master of the bodysuit back in the 90s, but it sadly never caught on as much as it should have -- it's really an amazing fix to both shirttail lines AND the constant annoyance of your shirt coming untucked and ballooning itself over your skirt or pants waistband. 
 
A bodysuit isn't all that easy to make your own unless you have pretty awesome sewing skills, but we make them all the time at work by hacking off the bottom of a shirt and stitching it to a lowly pair of underwear from Target.
 
After the public bathroom pissing scenario I referenced above, I got smart and started having my seamstress cut the flap for peeing higher up on the pubic bone, making it easy to get in and out of the bathroom. (You know, like on a baby onesie!)
 
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Ga ga goo goo!

If you go the bodysuit route, ask your seamstress or tailor to use small plastic snaps for the flap instead of hooks, as they are easier to get in and out of when time is of the essence. (Plus they won't scratch you in the vajunga like an old-fashioned hook and eye closure will.)
 
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Dritz sew-on snaps, 12/$4.80.

 
Keep your questions coming! I live to serve you guys. 

I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison