What with the week of national drama on which we are poised to embark, I thought it a fitting moment to address an issue that challenges long-held assumptions and strikes to the very core of our identity. All around us, the old ways of doing things are being questioned. At every turn, there is disillusionment with the status quo, a yearning for a fresh start.
I speak of the burning issue of the season, which is whether to embrace the half-tuck. For centuries, standpoints on shirt tails have divided neatly into two camps. You tucked your shirt in, or you let it all hang out. The two were entirely distinct looks and said pretty much everything about you that the rest of the world needed to know.
But a new model has risen. You leave the bottom buttons of your shirt undone, and tuck in one side, but not the other. Radical, right? It is eye-catching, because it looks at once dishevelled and deliberate. Carefully scruffy, if you will.
The shirt half-tuck is at first glance an evolved, more pointed version of a styling trick that’s been around for a while, which is to tuck in only a six-inch span of the very front section of your T-shirt or sweater. This worked with jeans, or tailored trousers, or with a pencil skirt. It created a more feminine look than wearing a loose top, while being more chic than an entirely tucked in top, which can look a bit Mom jean.
The shirt half-tuck is a different beast, however. It works only with a shirt, for a start, so you are in a less traditionally feminine place than if tucking in a silky T-blouse. It makes your outfit asymmetrical, which challenges traditional notions of beauty and neatness. (Oddly, it is often worn in a streetstyle context with a deep side parting.) Like a perfectly popped collar, it evokes a beguiling insouciance.
The half-tuck must be a clear contrast or you risk looking like you went to the loo and forgot to rearrange yourself. Being in neither one camp nor the other is a thing this election season, and the half-tuck is the week’s only surefire winner.
Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Fashion assistant: Hannah Davidson. Hair and makeup: Sharon Ive at Carol Hayes Management.