And it worked!? The "TUCK ALL TOPS" mindset, EXPLORED

Recently, a reader confronted the topic of TUCKING HEAD ON when we did an open call for Personal Spyplane questions. @barx_ asked us, “Is there anything you shouldn’t tuck??”

If you follow Blackbird Spyplane on IG you have likely seen us intoning the powerful but controversial mantra “TUCK ALL TOPS”some people view the “tuck all tops” mindset as PROFOUND and REVOLUTIONARY … Others view it as ~DeMeNtEd and tWiStEd~… Everyone agrees it is a RADICAL philosophy that CHALLENGES ALL MANNER of intellectual-aesthetic BOUNDARIES …

In a literal-minded sense, yes, there are limits to this s**t, and you will in all likelihood look ridiculous / be unable to walk comfortably if you try to tuck in, like, a long wool overcoat or a bulky parka

But the more open-minded, avant-garde-curious Spyplane answer is: “TUCK ALL TOPS” means “TUCK ALL TOPS!”

“Blackbird Spyplane,” u might be saying, “tucking a t-shirt or button-down *is* swaggy, but can feel daunting enough in its own right … why even attempt an ‘unconventional tuck’ with another kind of top in the first place??”

Because it’s fun to interrogate SHOPWORN CONVENTIONS; test the limits of ‘freaking it’; and UNLOCK SURPRISING FIT-SUBLIMITY as a reward…! If u hit some bumps along the way, simply own them on some alpha s**t and keep it moving!!

Let’s back up a bit. If we had to distill the “TUCK ALL TOPS” mindset into a single image, it would be the joyous, mood-brightening fit rocked by Canal St. sunglass-vendor “Groovy Louie” 3 years ago in the above IG post, courtesy of NYC street-style “reluctant anthropologist” Mordechai Rubinstein …

Louie embodies the phenomenon of “unbeatable Chinatown elder swag” that came up when we interviewed Sandy Liang a couple months back: This man tucked a HOT PINK SCARF into a LIME-GREEN FULL-ZIP FLEECE and then tucked that into some DARK GREY PLEATED DRESS PANTS…. And he looks fantastic!!

Louie’s tucked fleece lodged in my brain — and when I copped a ‘90s-era yellow snap-T on eBay a couple chilly autumns ago, I immediately tried tucking it into some Our Legacy jeans, above left… it felt cozy and pleasantly “wrong”… I liked it!

A year later, above right, I tried out a FUNKIER, TUCKED-ON-TWO-FRONTS maneuver: I tucked a heavyweight Visvim kangaroo-pocket hoodie UP into a Man-tle bucket hat and DOWN into some Kaptain Sunshine Gurkhas — so that the waistline of the pants bisected the pocket…

I posted a poll on IG to see what the SpyFriends thought, and unsurprisingly this fit was divisive: a 53% majority believed it represented “a tuck too far…” Several people sent me an infamous paparazzi shot of Future, who is cool, wearing a kangaroo-pocket hoodie tucked into skinny jeans, which did not look very cool…

I wasn’t deterred, though, and receiving the “tuck all tops” encouragement of many Mach 3+ stylish SpyFriends, such as the wise king John Mayer, only galvanized my TUCKY spirit…

So what R some guidelines for successful ALL-TOPS TUCKAGE?

Here are 2 more Mordechai shots of TUCKERS looking GREAT — above left we’ve got GQ’s John Tietz with a tucked v-neck sweater; above right we’ve got an unidentified king with a tucked Yankees jersey and black dress pants, letting his dogs BAKE in the sunshine. These looks work for different reasons…

In Tietz’s case, he incorporates two notable elements: a) an untucked outer layer (the silky-looking button-down) and b) pleated trousers (which, unlike flat-front pants, create something of a “tuck vestibule”) with an oversize waistline to boot, whose excess fabric, cinched by a skinny belt, is curling over on itself. The flowing overshirt — along with the harmonious earth-tone palette — draws and distributes attention away from the tuck, even as the artfully “sloppy” waistband draws attention rakishly towards it… Color, proportion and material all converge in a banger: This is Mach 5+ s**t right here.

With homie above right, the simple, bumblebee-vibe two-tone color combo is a huge factor in his SUCCESSFUL TUCK, but the single-most important factor is of course his suspenders, which perform the important visual work of adding vertical lines to the fit, offsetting the strong horizon of the tuck. This man understands “visual rhythm”!!

This is one of the last portraits of Kurt Cobain, and it features a beautifully tucked knit … Note the THICK belt with the CHUNKY buckle here, which supplies a clear & sturdy sense of structure… The relatively high rise on the jeans keeps the whole silhouette balanced and underscores the fact that when you tuck, you don’t want yr pants “LOW SLUNG”

Meanwhile the sweater’s unraveling wool creates a paradoxically “tucked yet simultaneously untucked” energy — as with the Tietz fit above, this shows how the right note of “sloppiness” can play pleasantly against the inherent “tidiness” of any tuck…

(Side-note: this photo also illustrates how U can crush a d*mn fit using pieces readily found at a thrift store !!)

The look above left comes from Portland’s Stand Up Comedy and captures the virtue of the partial tuck — this model has a hefty round Lauren Manoogian sweater tucked ONLY into the front of some dope oversize Nike sweats (with belt loops) ?? If the sweater was fully untucked, this voluminous-garment combo might risk dumpiness, while a full tuck would risk a traffic jam of dense fabric. The partial tuck avoids both PITFALLS and allows this fit to BILLOW SWAGGILY with a nice little hit of BELT !

Above right we’ve got a shot from Nike ACG SS21 in which ma TUCKS a baggy sweatshirt and then MASSAGES the Tuck Interface with a strategically deployed fanny pack — this is a GORPY take on the “tuck all tops” mindset that shows the value of accessories besides belts and suspenders when it comes to composing a tuck.

Yesterday I called up tuck-prone Blackbird SpyFriend Lawrence Schlossman of Throwing Fits for what I thought would be a quick conversation — but we wound up going deep into the TUCK UNIVERSE and its many variables for a half-hour. Larry said he personally embraced the tuck after shedding some pounds but we agree that the tuck works across body types — in Larry’s words, the tuck is a “metaphysical superpower” that we ALL possess: “It’s a maneuver that’s in everyone’s arsenal — a simple thing anyone can do that will change a whole fit.”

For months now he’s been tucking button downs and t-shirts as a rule, and experimenting — to his DELIGHT — with tucked knits, ranging from pullovers like a robust Judy Turner quarter-zip knit to a fine-gauge Aimé Leon Dore cardigan.

Personally, Larry’s been tucking sans belt, and is wary of “tucking anything into an elastic / drawstring type hybrid waistband”…

BUT that just demonstrates the variety of choices available to the ADVENTUROUS TUCKER, because peep the look above left, from Hermès SS21 — a tuck-rich collection that featured tucked sport coats, tucked sweaters, and homie here in the BEAUTIFUL fisherman’s sandals, wearing one crisp white shirt buttoned up partway and TUCKED and then A SECOND, PASTEL SHIRT, OPEN and yet ALSO TUCKED into some accomodatingly laidback drawstring trousers…!!

Tucking 2 layered button-downs at once?? Now you’re talking “TURBO-MODE TUCKAGE.”

Meanwhile the fit above right, from Visvim FW20, incorporates a couple tuck-boosting elements we’ve already ID’d — the free-flowing outer layer worn over the tucked “Jumbo Hoodie,” and the vertical motion of the suspenders rising up from the “Camus Braces” pants…

But this dude also captures a novel solution to a BIG POTENTIAL PROBLEM with any thick tucked top, which is BUNCHINESS, i.e. u do not want WADDED-UP fabric clogging the flow at yr midsection … Here, the suspenders allow homie to rock a cavernously roomy waistband that engulfs the tucked hoodie with empty space to spare, nullifying all bunchiness…

A different approach to the tucked hoodie is below right, in an image from Aimé Leon Dore SS21. The full-fit midnight monochrome scheme here is key, because it mutes the “statement” that the bisected kangaroo-pocket makes, and lets the whole fit burn with a minimalist power…

OK — let’s “push it to the limit.” If u were gonna name a garment that seems UNTUCKABLE IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE u might reasonably go with puffer jackets … but O baby YOU’D BE WRONG and us “tuck all tops” absolutists would be RIGHT !!

A few weeks back, Spyplane reader Robb McNeill shared the fit above left to his IG stories and @-ed us… Part of what works here is that he’s wearing a 1/2-zip puffer, which I think tucks better than a full-zip joint would, and it’s helped along by the outer layer, which, as in the earlier cases we’ve discussed, simultaneously frames and “takes the edge off” the unconventional tuck.

Beyond that, a puffer is by its nature highly compressible, so it doesn’t overpower his jeans and make it look like he’s wearing diapers. Trousers cut from substantially lighter material wouldn’t work as well and might indeed risk “diaper-vibes” — no disrespect to all our adult-incontinent kings and queens.

Once u master the “Tuck All Tops” rudiments?? U can experiment with placing OTHER EYE-CATCHING HIGH-LEVEL TUCKS elsewhere in your outfit — an extremely high-risk / high-reward strategy exemplified by Johnny Cash, seen here tucking a d*mn bomber jacket into slim jeans and then upping the ante exponentially by tucking those jeans into THIGH-HIGH LEATHER BOOTS!!

Cash’s SNEER tells any and all observers, w/ 100% accuracy, “YOU CAN’T TELL ME S**T WHEN IT COMES TO TUCKING” — inspirational!!

☮ Jonah & Erin ☮

YOOOO — switching gears real quick from total frivolity to something actually important:

Some DSA friends told us about a COVID-19 mutual-aid drive for people living on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation — places that have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. The organizers write:

“By donating, you will help the most heavily impacted community in the USA… The Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation are extreme food deserts with only 14 grocery stores on the two reservations to serve some 180,000 people… One-third of the people living on these two reservations do not have running water, and another third don't have electricity…

”We provide our beneficiaries with food, water, PPE, health supplies, cleaning supplies and other essential items (like toiletries) they need to weather this pandemic. The need is so great.  Please give if you can.”  

Read about the people involved in this effort, and donate if you’re able, here.

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