Last year, when I started seeing ads in The New Yorker for UNTUCKit, a new brand of men’s dress shirts designed to be worn untucked, my curiosity was piqued—not because I’m into dress shirts, but because it seemed like the epitome of a solution to a nonexistent problem.
You see, I’m an arts journalist. Outside of weddings and funerals, I’ve hardly tucked in a tail since the Clinton administration, and I’ve never paused to wonder if the hems of my old Urban Outfitters cowboy shirts were an issue. To me, they might as well have been marketing UNWRAPit, a new gum designed to be chewed with the wrapper off. Redundant at best, ridiculous at worst.
So when UNTUCKit opened its first North Carolina location in June, right here in Durham, I had to make the pilgrimage to The Streets at Southpoint to see what the tuck all the fuss was about. And hey, new H&M.
The New Yorker, likely after someone in editorial went agog at the magazine’s own ads, also sent a correspondent to write a brief, humorous piece about UNTUCKit. Like him, I went in search of the mysteries of the hem, which is short and shallowly curved, as opposed to the usual sharp hip cutouts between long flaps. But a polished, keen-eyed salesperson—the experience is more like shopping for a household appliance or a car than a shirt; you try on a generic model and then choose your color—showed me I was on the wrong track.
As much as it’s about the hem, she explained, it’s about the slim-cut body, as if she had instantly, magically intuited both my skepticism about the former and my preference for the latter.
I had to admit, the body fit great. I’ve owned shirts where someone was clearly like, “Make a fabric box, hang some tubes from the sides, stick a collar on top—shirt!” This wasn’t that. The sleeves were too billowy, but the double-button cuff would help, and I could have tried on that model if I were going to buy one.
I mean, I’m not. They’re expensive, around $100, and they’re just well-made Oxfords and pinstripes and stuff. It’s right there in the name: the blaring “UNTUCK,” the murmuring “it.” The philosophy is rococo; the shirts are just shirts. They wouldn’t really go with my retro Swatches and printed tights. But if you have a real job and/or a life that has exiled you from the surgically lit precincts of H&M, you could do a lot worse.