My Clothes Are Not the Boss of Me

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Last fall I wrote a post about some crazy trends happening in fashion, about how unrealistic, unwearable, and downright silly some of them are. To me at least. Remember the “duvet coat?” Ha.

And I loved the comment on that post from “Catbird Farm” that she didn’t “want to wear clothes that [bossed her] around.” Yep. Me neither. I hate bossy outfits. Demanding my attention all day or evening. Whiny outfits that need to be fussed over constantly. I mean, let’s just all agree that our clothes are not the boss of us, okay? Or they shouldn’t be, anyway.

Which brings me to my point today. The half-tuck. You know, the trend that’s been around for a few seasons, of tucking part of one’s shirt or tee or sweater into one’s pants or skirt. I like the look on others, mostly. Some of my favourite bloggers have worn it very successfully. But I have to say that I’ve struggled with this trend.

I tried it here with my white linen, 3/4 sleeve tee from Nordstrom Collection which I bought last spring when I was looking for tops to go with my striped A.L.C. skirt. This is how Liz and I styled the top in the dressing room when I bought it. And this is how I wore it out to tea with a friend a few weeks ago. Except I wore my Paul Green black suede, lace-up flats instead of my sneakers. I like this outfit. In the picture, at least. Standing still, posing for my camera.

Wearing a striped long skirt with a white linen tee, and white sneakers, the tee half tucked in
I like this outfit. It’s just too darned bossy.
But in real life. Not so much. You know… real life… where I have to move around and stuff? Like driving in my car, twisting to fasten my seatbelt, or to see behind me when I’m parallel parking, even getting out of the car. Then sitting down in the restaurant, stretching my arms up to pull my cross-body bag over my head, reaching to put my bag on a nearby chair, or simply getting up from the table. All movements that result in the half-tuck moving around, becoming untucked. And requiring fussing. Because it’s not a matter of just tucking in the front. No… it has to be positioned just so. Slightly off centre, the tee slightly bloused over the waist of my skirt. So it looks nonchalant, like I just tucked it in any old way, when of course I didn’t. Akkkk. That half-tuck drove me crazy.
And since I’m a slow learner, in many ways. I tried the half-tuck again the other day. With my new Frame navy and white striped tee and my old Burberry denim skirt. I even added a funky green belt. Sigh. It looked silly. Too contrived, I thought. And destroyed the shape of the Frame tee shirt. Plus the fact that I knew the tee would not stay tucked. Not once I sat in the car, and twisted to fasten my seatbelt and…. well… you get the point. So I untucked it again and felt much better. More like myself.
     trying to tuck my striped tee into my denim skirt
Fussing and fighting with my half-tuck.
And then, before I left the house, I tried my white linen tee untucked with my denim skirt, below. Now isn’t that much better? Tucking this shirt spoils the lovely, schlubby, linen-knit shape. And when it’s tucked you can’t see how it hangs loose, but is still narrow. How the back is longer than the front, and the wide hem at the bottom is slit at the sides, so it floats freely and doesn’t cling. Okay, so maybe this outfit isn’t the latest of the latest in 2017 trends. And white and navy may be a bit boring. But I love it and feel perfectly comfortable. Not fussy.  And not bossed around by my clothes. Add a pair of colourful, funky earrings and a cute cross-body bag or a tote and this would be a great run-around outfit.
woman in white tee, denim skirt and white sneakers
That’s much better.
And now that I think of it. All my favourite looks this season are untucked. A narrow untucked sweater or tee is the most flattering on my apple shape… since I carry most of my weight above the hips. And a top worn out over my pants or skirt balances off my short upper body with my much longer lower half. Not to mention smoothing out bumps and protrusions that have developed over the years. And… and… this part is important… an untucked top is soooo easy. Unfussy. Doesn’t demand adjustment every five minutes. And doesn’t boss me around.
Woman in pink sweater, striped skirt with hands in pockets.     Woman in striped tee, black pants and holding a straw tote
My two favourite outfits this season. Both untucked.
And, you see, here’s my point. I expend a lot of time and effort choosing the pieces I will purchase to add to my wardrobe. As you know if you visit here regularly, I do my “research” every season. I edit out of my closet pieces that no longer work on my body, or that no longer suit my lifestyle. I make my lists and shop carefully. I make the occasional mistake; can you say Eileen Fisher tunic? But mostly I end up with pieces that I will wear for years, and which I am confident look good on me.
Fashion has always been important to me. But it’s not my whole life. And once I’ve invested my time and my money into a piece, I expect it to do the rest of the work, so to speak. I’ll spend a bit more time putting together outfits, but afterward I want to be able to trust that my work is done. I don’t want to fuss or fiddle with my clothes. I want them to look good on me. And do what they’re told.
Because, in the end, I am the only boss of me. Not my husband. Not my mum… at least not anymore. Not my former boss… now that I’m retired. And certainly not my clothes.
woman in striped tee, and denim skirt with hands held out to the sides, shrugging and smiling
I am the boss of me.

And really, why should I care that I’m not wearing every trend that rears its head every season? That doesn’t reflect my fashion ethic at all.

Okay, I’m done ranting. I guess that the half-tuck is one of those trends that I’ll take a pass on. Now, don’t get me started on the off the shoulder thing.

How about you, my fashionable friends… are you a half-tuck person? Let’s hear what trends you have taken a pass on. Or outfits that you abandoned because they became too darned bossy.

From the archives


Finding My Fitness Groove. Without Yoga

Let’s get something straight right off the bat. I hate yoga. When I retired and …


Help. I’ve fallen into a Skinny Pants Rut.

You know, I think I’m stuck in a pants rut. Or a trousers rut, if …


Waxing and Waning: A Crisis of Confidence

Ever have those moments when your self-confidence just dries up and blows away? When instead …

Email delivery

Would you like to have new stories automatically delivered to your inbox? When a new story appears on the website, we’ll send the story right to your inbox.ย 

* indicates required

62 thoughts on “My Clothes Are Not the Boss of Me”

  1. The half tuck is too close to the back of the skirt caught in the panty hose look…..more like a malfunction than an on purpose style.


    1. Jo in Chicago

      I haven't worn anything tucked in since I graduated from high school and no longer had to wear a peter pan-collared blouse tucked into my uniform skirt. Trying to keep that blouse properly tucked in all day was a bit of a chore.
      This is not to say I minded wearing a uniform – the ease of knowing each morning what you were going to wear to school was wonderful.

  2. Oh, Sue, imagine my surprise to start reading and see myself quoted! I'm tickled that sentiment resonated with you – I think we are cut from the same cloth when it comes to wardrobe philosophy (sorry, couldn't resist that one). In addition to not wanting clothes that boss me around, I also don't understand needy accessories, i.e., shoes that limit movement (I want to walk and run and take stairs without being hampered), or necklaces so long they get caught in things. And don't get me started on those handbags that require holding in the crook of the arm. Unless I'm headed to the farmer's market with a straw tote like yours, I want both hands free to get on with life! I am not a human hanger for the latest must-have handbag. Because if that's not being bossed around by wardrobe, I don't know what is!

    All your favorites shown here look fab on you, in particular the untucked white top/navy skirt combo: classic, simple, fuss-free. You're the boss! ๐Ÿ™‚ –Catbird Farm

    1. Thanks. Always appreciate your comments;) By the way… needy accessories bug me too. I love the look of clutch purses, but am always perplexed as to what to do with them when I get to the restaurant, or standing around at parties. Seems a waste of a good drink- or canape- holding hand to have to clutch them all evening.

  3. I am currently battling the off the shoulder top – constantly adjusting to keep it in place. I'm also a "put a bit of thought into what to wear and then don't think about it" type of person and although I love the off the shoulder look the fussiness required to keep it is driving me crazy. Not sure what I'll do yet but wanted to comment that so many of your posts are exactly what I'm going through being recently retired, still interested in looking put together, and going through all the woes of the changing body. The only consolation is knowing that there are others going through the same thing. Thank you for your blog.

  4. I am a total untucked … I like square finishes, and they're easy to mange … I love the way you're wearing your demin skirt and striped t .. there should be more untucking.

  5. Hi Sue, I definitely don't want to feel that my clothes are in charge! Making me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I have tried half tuck but never actually worn a top this way ie made it out of the house ! For all the reasons you mentioned. I do however like it on others …they're usual young tall and super slim!! On bags I agree with Catbird Farm "cross body" are just the best, or a backpack … or both worn together, if extra space is needed for a sweater, umbrella etc!!
    I'm signing in as anonymous as we're staying at a little coastal village in Cornwall and I'm having " techy" problems!! Interestingly about the time you wrote about struggling with things emotionally hubby suggested coming here and I almost burst in to tears!! Saying I thought it would be nice just to chill at home! I was happy to let him come on his own ๐Ÿ™‚ changed my mind …. and my mood ๐Ÿ™‚ a day or so ago and now I'm so glad I came! Amazing to be right by the water, like you are at home, with great views…. and hey I can chill here just as easily!!
    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. You're right of course, Rosie. All those "insanely chic" messy looks are doable by someone who looks like a super-model.
      Hope you're enjoying your coastal village. Sounds wonderful. But I can identify with the need to just be at home for reasonable stretches of time. What with South America, visiting my mum, going to Toronto, going camping… I've spent a lot of time living out of a suitcase in the last six months. I just want to be home for a while. Enjoying my stuff. Chilling on out deck when the mosquitoes aren't too bad!

  6. Well, like you I cannot abide outfits that wear ME, rather than me wear them. Wear them to suit my quirky body. The outfit is not the statement, it's me.
    I have never tried the half tuck, not even curiously in the privacy of my own bedroom! It seems like one of those intimidating style diktats like the matching bag and shoes no-no, claiming that if you don't abide by them you age 10 years, which is ludicrous because nothing happens to you physically when committing these current fashion faux pas. What happens, theoretically because it's not proven, is that others who choose to be dictated to instantly see you as out of touch with current trends, and "older" because only they and their peers are privy to the trend. Totally silly, unbelievable and a myth created by style gurus.
    Rant over. My name is Mary, I like matching accessories, I can't really understand the half tuck … but I did try the slouchy single OTS this week. An epic fail for as soon as I went out walking the half-shoulder cardi, the other shoulder migrated downwards. As I said to my walking companion, hubby: one shoulder = stylish, two shoulders = just plain scruffy! And two shoulders is what you get as soon as you move away from the camera.
    So, from my readers' comments and our joint experiences, there are some trends which are a bit Emperor's New Clothes, when Susan Burpee shouts out from the adulating and unquestioning crowd, "This doesn't work when you MOVE"!

    1. Ah… the famous "styled" off the shoulder look… like those half on half off puffa coats last winter that the wearer had shrugged off her shoulders. Looked so silly. Like they were clutching a stole around their shoulders instead of a down jacket. Sorry. I said not to get me started:)

  7. LOL! Yeah. That's how I feel about me and the half-tuck. I do think it looks fine on some women. But my issue with it is that the tails of the blouses I might consider half-tucking are wrinkled after being sat on in the car, and then when I arrive at my destination I just look like some poor chicken dragging her dusty tail feathers in the agora.

    I don't reject all fashion advice or "rules," which surely are meant to be followed or broken as I desire. The sum of my daily decisions totals up to my style, which will never be finished. I'm still a work in progress.


  8. Great post. I've long suspected that the half-tuck only works in still shots and if I see another "cold-shoulder" top this summer my head will explode. That said, I did give in to the bell sleeve trend this spring (I'm only human). After a single wearing I regretted it – not because the blouse wasn't pretty but because the sleeves dragged through my lunch. Practicality trumps pretty in my book.

    Sue – any thoughts on the impending Nordstrom sale? Have you made your list?

    Heading to the Carp Farmers' Market for breakfast and hoping for a sunny Saturday!

    Lianne MacGregor

    1. Ah the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale… I'm still thinking. Hoping to visit my buddy Liz at some point… but not sure I'll take a list. Shocking for me to shop without a list. Hope the carp Market was good. You picked a nice day for it. and that's hard to do this summer.

  9. Thank you! I have tried the half tuck and found it completely unworkable. I agree it probably only looks good in still shots. Ditto the off the shoulder tops and cold shoulder tops. They just do nothing for me and I have avoided them. Tried on a bell sleeve top (really pretty) this spring and passed. The flopping material would drive me nuts over time and be into everything.

    I absolutely love this theme, and from now on when I'm shopping, I will ask myself if this garment is trying to be the boss of me. If so, it won't be coming home. Ha!

    1. I remember bell sleeves in the late sixties. In fact at my junior high school class reunion last fall a bunch of us laughed as we all recalled the dress of one of our classmates in grade 8, green with white lace trim and bell sleeves. Funny how that dress stuck in all of our minds. I don't mind the dresses I've seen with bell sleeves that fall just below the elbow, but the blouses with the long, long belled cuffs seem not so practical.

  10. Clothes should be effortless, not contrived. My husband, my consultant – not the boss of me – calls them as he sees them…."costumes". I've dedicated a Pinterest board to the Half-Tuck, which strikes me as absurd and too thought out. So many trends feel like another effort and push to buy more. Stay classy kid.

  11. I wish the half-tuck could work for me, because there are elements of what it does that I can see could be advantageous on my very short-waisted, short frame (also tending to apple-ish). But nope, any time I've tried it, I end up undoing it before I leave home, no matter if I think I've maybe got it, according to the mirror.
    Alison (That's Not My Age) Instagram-posted a shot of a half-tucked shirt the other day, and it looked perfect, not fussy at all, and so well suited to her figure. But it's not for me. Nor, apparently, for you. . . . (I like all the outfits above, btw, and it looks as if you could actually wear the Half-Tuck well, if you could stand the logistics involved ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. I almost wish I could do the reverse half-tuck… because tucking in the front and covering up the rear, hides my assets and exposes my biggest uh… problem. Ha. I saw Alyson's shirt half-tucked and it looked great on her. I may try that with my oversized blue shirt. Maybe.

  12. The half tuck only calls attention to the one area of my body I am trying to disguise. Besides, why would I want to show off a zipper or belt loops? Truthfully, I haven't seen a photo of it on anyone (model or not) that I didn't think it was silly. Are trends really meant to be flattering or comfortable? I think of 18 year old me in platform shoes clumping up stairs. Lol.

    1. Me too… I just said that to Frances above. Tucking in the front and covering up the back it the opposite of what I should be doing. And platforms…I remember buying a pair of those two inch think platforms as a teenager and my mum marched me right back to the store. Those big shoes did look ridiculous on my long very spindly legs. Like a baby moose, kind of.

  13. Like most fads , the half tuck was abit of fun at first then it became sort of contrived & tedious . The rolled over jeans were a fad that stayed & I still like them with bare ankles in summer – as long as they stay put & don't need constant attention . Your combinations look good here . Not overloaded with accessories either , just enough .
    Wendy in York

    1. When I first tried rolled jeans I thought I looked like Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. But I love them too, now, with bare ankles. I love how I can control the length of my pants…and by pants, of course, I mean trousers!

    2. Literally laughing out loud at your Richie Cunningham comment! Yes, I now love rolled jeans cuffs, too. But hubby, who was in high school in the 50s, certainly got a charge out of them when I first started wearing them. He remembers them fondly — and sockless shoes and white tee shirts, and no belts. Just like what's cool today. Sigh.

  14. I giggle when I see it as I think it looks contrived. I agree that clothes need to be simple. It is HOT and HUMID in MN today so cotton, loose and flowing will be my motto today.

  15. I'm with you! I'm an untucked gal. I really hate wearing anything that requires constant fussing or adjustment. I also find the "Jenna Lyons sleeve roll" a bit contrived as well. I tried it, I really did. But they never stayed put or kept that "look". So now clothes have to work for how I wear them.

  16. I like and wear clothes that are comfortable to me (although they may seem/are polished to others. It is funny how some things works for somebody and the right way is to find them,no matter what is a "must have" at the moment. When I see this phrase,my first impulse is to move away)-sometimes it may be a trend and sometimes not. They have to survive a lot of driving,moving,changing environments very quickly…..they have to be effortless but beautiful (to me)
    After all the posts,it is hard to be honest and admitt that,couple of years ago,half-tuck with some blouses worked perfect to me-but now,it simply does not work any more (maybe I'm tired of all the half-tucks all around)
    I like your style and you always find the right/your way to wear things

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. I'm like Frances who said she tried the half and it never made it out the door. Every time I try it I imagine my mother looking at me and saying, "Susie, your shirt is not tucked all the way in." It's hard to get our mothers out of our heads sometimes.

  17. Leslie in Oregon

    Amen!! I never saw the point of the half-tucked shirt or tee; it just looked sloppy or, at best, contrived. As for simple flowing dresses in increasingly hot and humid summers…yes!! My son recently wore at the beach a long caftan that a friend had brought back from Africa, and he couldn't believe how cool (as in not hot) it felt.

  18. Heavens, no! As a short person who is showing an alarming tendency towards barrel at present (what the hell is going on??!!) tucking would look ridiculous. And I agree with you totally – nobody and nothing is the boss of me now, least of all my shirts. My daughter – tall and rangy – looks great in a half-tuck but then she is 24 and gorgeous with a long waist and brilliant legs. Me? I look like someone who has managed to escape from the home.

  19. I also like the half tuck in theory and on others. I tried it a few times, and, like you, it never really works in real life for me. It always comes undone and then I'm fussing with my clothes all the time, which isn't very attractive and, quite frankly, annoying…

    I love your un-tucked looks!

  20. Glad you're not letting your clothes be the boss of you cos ultimately you know best what suits you. Though I was surprised and reassured to see a couple of posts ago that someone as apparently together as you still experiences moments of self doubt. Glad you've made it out of that funk. Loved your boating film clip so tranquil and beautiful but omg didnt like the idea of all those flies. Resisted listening to the full fly song because I reckoned it would be hard to get out of my head!! Yes sorry I'm once again doing a multi post comment. Have loved them all but just felt they needed more in depth comment than I had time for when reading them. Love your white linen jumper. Definitely better out than in! Iris

    1. Thanks, Iris. I always get a kick out of how comprehensive your multi-post comments are. You were probably wise about the blackfly song, it's still in my head. Although I love the video for its witty animation, including the inclusion of so many Canadian icons: bears, canoes, moose… especially the bear playing the fiddle. Just needed a beaver in my opinion.

  21. I love this post so much as I have been doing the tucking and untucking and trying to get it right and every time I leave the house I pull it out and say to heck with it! I am so glad I am not the only one. I also had the light go on and agree with you about if the clothes take too much work and bother why am I bothering?

  22. I tried the half tuck once. My husband came up to me and pulled my shirt out saying,"you got part of your shirt stuck in your jeans." I told him it was supposed to look like that. His reply – "I don't get it." End of story:)

  23. I'm a week or more late in commenting here, but I have to say I agree with you wholeheartedly. I'm also pleased to read that I'm not the only one who honestly feels untucked can be more flattering to a certain body type. Plus easy – what else is there? Loved this and your more recent NAS fashion post too – you are inspiring me to keep a notebook and stick to a plan . Thanks!

  24. I really love your style. I was a late bloomer, style-wise and your post really helped me and maybe reading this post will help some other woman get there faster. This dress looks very nice on you moreover your blog is amazing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *