Advice for men: Should a button-down shirt be tucked in for casual situations?

A Gentleman Does Not Leave His Shirt Untucked Like Some Kind of D-Bag

A Gentleman Does Not Leave His Shirt Untucked Like Some Kind of D-Bag

Answers for modern men.
Jan. 22 2014 4:38 PM

Tucked or Untucked?

Also, kids or no kids?

Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited, or not.)

Dear Gentleman Scholar,

Troy Patterson
Troy Patterson

Photo by Christina Paige

I felt inspired to write in after reading your recent thoughts about bow ties.


I do not want to wear any tie, ever. I hate the way I look when wearing one. I resent the time it takes to tie one. I hate the sensation around my neck. I don't feel like myself when wearing a tie. It's not that I don't like fine clothes or looking nice; I am happy in a nice suit, nice shoes, with a nice shirt open at the neck. I am also happy that I happen to be in a job (college professor) that generally does not expect me to wear a tie.

My question is, under what circumstances, if any, do you consider it absolutely necessary to don a tie? Wedding? Funeral? Formal dinner at the best restaurant in town? I have no particular desire to appear a slob or a rebel, and I certainly don't want to indicate any lack of respect, for anyone or any occasion, by my tielessness. I just can't stand those damn things.

Thank you for your question.

Given your strenuous objections and general couth, I endorse your tieless lifestyle, stipulating, of course, that you are good to your word about not indicating “any lack of respect.” Weddings? Job interviews? If there is a chance that you offend a blushing bride or a potential boss by forgoing a tie, do not forgo a tie. Funerals? It’s fairly difficult to offend a corpse; nonetheless, you should be wary of rubbing widows and pallbearers the wrong way by going all BHL with your neckline. A sober pocket square or simple lapel pin would be wise choices for adding dash.

If you look good and seem confident, you can get away with anything, except perhaps a class A felony, which is why I am tempted to say that a defendant in a criminal case must wear a necktie. Cravat caveat: A defendant should discuss proper courtroom attire with his legal team, which might decide that the tieless look will give him an is-he-or-isn’t-he-on-suicide-watch? mystique that may appeal to the jury’s sympathies.

* * *

My girlfriend and I have been together for a little more than two years, and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else. I would have proposed to her by now, but she wants a child, and I've never once felt the desire to be a father, nor imagined a life with a kid.

(Here are the main points of a long paragraph that would get edited anyway: I have no aversion to others’ kids; both of us will be 30 within the year; this is the question of our relationship; we really love each other; I would never leave if she were to become pregnant; but when it comes down to it, I don't think I want a kid.)

Have I answered my own question? Must I find someone else?

Thank you for your question.

If there were more passion to your rejection of childrearing—if, for instance, you described anxieties about subjecting this hypothetical child to an upbringing yet more horrid than the one your abusive parents visited upon you—then I would advise you to break up. However, you seem merely to be describing a hunch—one that is perfectly natural for a 29-year-old to have.

You think you don’t want kids. Guess what? The world is teeming with good parents who, perhaps as much as 49 percent of the time, don’t want kids either. That kids are a pain in the ass is among the truths of parenting that parents, fearing it would be a confession of weakness or monstrosity to speak, don’t speak. And this silence compounds their lonely misery as they lower themselves on creaky knees to address the Crayola marks (or Sharpie scrawls) (or poo smears) with which their pain-in-the-ass kids have defiled the wainscoting. On the other hand, children renew one’s sense of purpose and contribute untellable bliss to one’s life, and you’ve got to put a picture of something on your custom-made Christmas cards, so why not?

Marry the woman. Sire a rug rat. Try WD-40 on the crayon marks.