In the cyclical evolution of design, it seems that the preferred, dress-shirt style has finally made it’s way to the thicker flannel and brushed cotton shirts. For the longest time, flannel shirts fit more like tents. Remember the old Abercrombie stuff?
There is no way you can wear one of those in a professional environment. And you shouldn’t.
Flannel is an important part of a man’s wardrobe, and it should not be limited to these tent-like shirts or pajama pants. Before we get into the good stuff, let’s talk about what flannel actually is.
WHAT IS FLANNEL?
There isn’t much difference between flannel and brushed cotton. One is a fabric, and one is a technique:
Flannel is a soft woven fabric of various fineness. Flannel is made from exclusively or a combination of cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. Flannel may be brushed for extra softness.
Brushed cotton is cotton fabric that has gone through brushing as a finishing process. The brushing creates fine fibers from the yarns, giving it extra softness, and in turn, thickness. Flannel is an example of brushed cotton.
Since flannel is a brushed cotton, we aren’t dealing with super luxurious Thomas Mason-esque fabrics. Therefore, the price points for flannels and brushed cottons shirts are normally on the consumer-friendly side. What you are paying for is the cut, and the exclusivity of the plaid (small batch vs. mass produced). Here are a bunch that I’ve got my eye on:
1. Ledbury | 2. Ledbury | 3. Onward Reserve | 4. LL Bean | 5. New England Shirtmakers for Unionmade | 6. Ledbury | 7. Ledbury | 8. Onward Reserve | 9. LL Bean | 10. New England Shirtmakers for Unionmade
Incorporating well-fitting flannel shirts into your wardrobe is simple. Since new flannels are cut more like dress shirts, they can be worn as such. Higher arm holes, a trimmer fit, and better construction allow for a dressed up look. On the dressier side, pair them with good chinos or 5-pocket style pants in any color (navy, khaki, greens) with a navy blazer or lambswool sweater and loafers. Suede works especially well with flannel. On the casual side, pair them with jeans and boots, top with a vest or Barbour and you are good to go.
THE FIRST SERVING: SOPRO AND SID:
I have purchased and placed some orders for flannels, and they should be arriving in the next week or so. Some of them are included in the list above, and some aren’t. I have a few must-haves when buying flannel shirts: fit, quality, and white buttons. I’ll be reviewing my additions in the coming weeks. First up, the options from Sid Mashburn and Southern Proper:
Southern Proper has really stepped up their game in terms of fit. They have a GREAT tailored fit, which isn’t skinny, but definitely slimmer. It’s a much more refined look and feel. The armpit holes are a little higher, making it easier to layer, and the patterns are outstanding.
Sid knows what he is doing here. Take their usual sport shirt fit and apply it to flannel. Alterations included. No brainer.
Don’t sleep on the older plaid designs, either. A traditional flannel shirt in an updated fit is a GREAT look; one that will never go out of style. The price point on the Southern Proper shirts are good – especially for what you get.
In terms of caring for flannel shirts, there are a couple ways to do it. First, it’s fine to get these shirts dry cleaned, but absolutely NO STARCH. The point of these shirts is to be soft, and starch completely negates all that is good. Second, wash in cold water, and hang to dry. Drying flannel is touchy, and I’ve never had good experience. Anyway, let it hang dry, then iron with a ton of steam. This way the shirt keeps it softness, but looks polished.
What are your go-to flannels?