Flannel can be one of the most comfortable and stylish materials out there. It’s also incredibly versatile. We often think of flannel as tailor-made for chilly weather, hunting through a pumpkin patch, and falling leaves. The truth is, however, you can wear it almost any time, and you don’t have to be a hipster or a lumberjack to look like you should be.
Flannels come from Scottish history, and colors are often matched to the tartans – or the colors – associated with specific bands in Scottish lore.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what you need to know when you’re buying a flannel shirt, and we’ll take a look at some of our favorite products. We’ll also give you some tips on how to look your best and answer some common questions.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
|Wellen Mendo Flannel Shirt|
|Mizzen & Main Wallace Flannel Shirt|
|Lisboa Braga Flannel|
|Pendleton Wool Flannel Shirt|
|Amazon Essentials Plaid Flannel Shirt|
|Barbour Flannel Shirt|
|Madewell Flannel Sunday Shirt|
|Bonobos Flannel Shirt|
|Legendary Flannel Shirt|
|Alimens Flannel Shirt|
What to Know When Buying A Flannel Shirt
Common misnomer – flannel isn’t the material itself, but is instead, that patchwork design that we’ve come to know. Some materials lend themselves a bit more closely to the flannel look, but you can find flannel in just about anything.
Cotton is, by far, one of the most breathable and affordable fabrics out there. It’s also incredibly soft, making it perfect for those cooler evenings by the fire. Since it’s a natural material, you may notice some shrinking when you’re washing it, but it holds up well to work, play, and fabric care.
Probably the material you think about when you imagine flannel, wool is a completely natural fiber with excellent insulation. If you’re wearing a wool flannel, you’re wearing it in the colder weather. It wicks enough moisture and retains warm air so well that men often find they don’t need a jacket over the top. Wool does require a bit of extra care – as it must be hung dry as opposed to putting in a dryer. Worth it, however, for its excellent warmth properties.
The polyester of yesteryear often left materials looking cheap and cookie cutter. It’s come a long way since then and evolved into a fully synthetic, great looking fabric. Flannels made from polyester have excellent moisture-wicking and warmth retention qualities, just like natural fibers. The difference is that they are a bit more durable. You can wash and dry your polyester flannel very quickly. You’ll also find polyester blended into other cloths – this gives the shirt just that extra bit of durability.
A subset of the conventional variety, organic cotton contains all the same properties as the above. The difference is that you can rest assured that the shirt is derived from a plant that is not treated with pesticides or fertilizers and is safe and sustainable for the environment. If you want to vote with your wallet, organic cotton flannel is a perfect way to do so.
2. Fabric Treatment
Flannel comes in a variety of different materials, as we reviewed above. However, those materials are often treated in a variety of different ways to give a different feel to the same type of shirt. Brush fibers, for example, create that softer feel that we often associate with flannel. It’s created by running a metal brush across the fabric to pull or raise small fibers out of the shirt.
Non-iron is another material treatment and can be thought of as the opposite of brushed fibers. Here, the material is fully pressed, and the weave is tight, meaning you can always look presentable, regardless of the style of the flannel.
Perhaps one of the most important material treatments is the weight of the fabric. You can think of the weight along with the seasons – you’ll want to wear a heavyweight flannel in the winter and a lightweight one in the summer. You can also layer your flannel with other items, like long sleeve waffle shirts or vests for additional warmth and style.
3. Style / Colors
There is only one style with flannel, and we all know what that is without reading it. Flannel is synonymous with the plaid or checks patterns. The flannel pattern itself, however, can be different from shirt to shirt, with large boxes or small, squares or rectangles, etc. There are also as many colors of flannel as your imagination can contain. You will find, however, that there are more earthy or dark tone flannel colors.
You don’t have to be a hipster or outdoorsy to wear a flannel. Many are suitable for an office setting, and they’re always a great choice in the fall or winter for warmth. Some can be worn tucked in as well, though generally, flannels look best when worn outside the pants.
The most significant difference is genuinely the finish of the flannel and how you think you’ll wear it. We’ll delve into both a bit more later.
There are two main fits for flannel, and you’ll want to pay attention to which you’re looking at depending on how you intend to wear your shirt.
A regular or classic fit is nearly always the default option for flannels. They are not tapered and allow for a more casual untucked style. Because of their larger cut, these flannels are great for working outside and staying warm.
A slim fit is more tapered and form-fitting. This also allows for a bit more versatility in wear – a shorter and more tailored shirt is more easily able to be tucked in. A slim fit flannel is best for the casual office or going outwear.
You can find flannels made by nearly all major designers as well as a fair share of random companies and individuals. Larger retailers often carry white-labeled flannel shirts, which are good, inexpensive options.
There are a few popular flannel brands that we like to recommend to men.
The quintessential name in outdoor fashion and function, LL Bean has been making stylish and relatively affordable flannel shirts for more than a century. Colors are researched and matched to historical tartans found on the Scottish registry, meaning you’re getting a great looking, historically authentic shirt.
Huckberry has been focusing on men that live in the city but also live for adventure since they were founded in 2010. The two founders envisioned a brand that would speak to those ideals, and they developed great looking flannels to match.
If you can only think of one American clothing company, folks will often come up with Wrangler brand as one of them. Wrangler focuses on workwear and has a long line of flannels in a variety of colors and weights. They even feature a thermal-lined option for those who are looking to stay warm.
Buffalo Jackson is the story of what the company defines as “the rugged gentleman.” Born in the West in Colorado Springs and come of age in the South, the company features a whole host of men’s products from leather goods to flannels to hats.
Mizzen and Main
They made their name on great men’s shirts, so it makes sense that they continue that trend with flannels. Their flannels are made with brushed fabric for an ultra-soft feel with natural stretch built in. A great option for the guy that wants to wear flannel to the office.
Woolrich has been making outdoor clothing since it was founding in 1830 – that’s a long time, and over their more than 150 years in business, they’ve refined the flannel shirt down to a science. With plentiful color and style options, Woolrich is a great retailer for flannel shopping.
Price can be highly dependent on the material you go with, the fabric treatment, the styles, and colors, and, most importantly, the brand name. As with many things in men’s fashion, you get what you pay for, so consider getting a flannel of higher quality if you’ll want it to last more than one season. Flannels generally range anywhere from $20 to $150.
The Best Flannel Shirts For Men of 2020 Reviewed
1. Best Quality Flannel: Wellen Mendo Flannel Shirt
Made from 100% organic cotton, the Huckberry Wellen Mendo Flannel is the highest quality shirt you can wear out to the bonfire on a cold night. This brushed cotton flannel comes in three checks, green blue and red, and sized XS to XXL. Huckberry offers free shipping and returns, so if you change your mind, you’re covered. The Wellen is on the looser end of the scale in terms of fit and quite rugged. The large check pattern, accented with black, makes this the perfect shirt for outdoor work. If you’re looking for something to wear to the office, this may not be the one for you.
The price is on the higher end of the scale, but your paying for a very high-quality shirt.
- 100% organic cotton
- Traditional, brushed finish
- The higher end of the price scale
- Will need some more careful washing
What You Need To Know
2. Best Dress Flannel: Mizzen & Main Wallace Flannel Shirt
Completely on the other side of the spectrum, we find the Mizzen & Main Wallace Flannel Shirt. The small check pattern here makes for an attractive, well-put-together shirt that is perfect for those cool mornings headed to the office. You’ll find five different color options, all priced at the top end of our range. Made from 100% polyester, with button-down collar and brushed fibers give you that soft flannel feels with a refined look to boot.
Mizzen & Main is known for its well-crafted shirts (as we covered in our full review of Mizzen+Main), and this is no different, offered in Small through XXL and a trim or standard fit. Even the standard-fit here is a bit more trimmed than a more traditional flannel, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
It is also worth noting that the shirt itself features some nice natural stretch, which lends to increased comfort throughout the day.
- Polyester provides some stretch and wicking
- Dressier style
- Easy care
- Higher price than other flannels
- Not quite as warm as other options.
What You Need To Know
3. Solid Color Flannel: Lisboa Braga Flannel
We often think of a flannel shirt with a distinctive tartan pattern. Huckberry’s Lisboa Braga Flannel, on the contrary, is offered in a gorgeous single color, with a very fine check in the fabric. Available in five colors and sizes from small to XXL, the Lisboa Braga is 100% cotton, providing that warmth you need with a style that will perfectly straddle casual and dressed. Perfect with a pair of khakis or chinos, the Lisboa can be machine washed and dried. The brushed cotton will give you the soft feel while the single color means you can have a more business-minded look.
A bit higher on our price scale, the Lisboa is well worth the price of admittance. Only available in a single trim level, so be sure to ensure you like the feel – returns are free.
- Attractive single color
- 100% cotton for breathability
- Straddles the line between formal and business seamlessly
- Lack of trim is disappointing
- Slightly pricey
What You Need To Know
4. 100% Wool Flannel: Pendleton Wool Flannel Shirt
Wool is a fantastic material, and wool flannel shirts are equally as wonderful. The Pendleton Wool Flannel wicks moisture away while keeping that warm air close to your body. Available in fitted, big, tall, and big & tall trims, the Pendleton is made from pure virgin wool sourced from ranchers in Umatilla County, Oregon.
The Pendleton flannel was made for the outdoors and is meant to be worn untucked and layered to provide you warmth in wet, windy conditions. Available in tons of different colors and patterns, the Pendleton is casual or for workwear and is priced well in our range. The brushed cotton is easy to care and can be washed cold and dried.
- Natural wool is both versatile and warm
- Easy care and wash instructions
- Well priced
- It does not transition to work or formal wear
- We’d like to see a button collar here
What You Need To Know
5. Best Affordable (Cheap): Amazon Essentials Plaid Flannel Shirt
Nothing wrong with affordable and a flannel shirt is no different. If you’re looking for a nice casual shirt or something to get out and rake the leaves in the fall, the Amazon Essentials Flannel is perfect. Made of 100% cotton and available in any color you can think of. Many consumers who purchased the shirt have reported that the fabric itself is not brushed, giving you a smooth, clean look. The single patch chest pocket creates a nice style, and the price truly can’t be beaten.
Machine washable and free shipping and returns make the Amazon Essentials flannel a great go-to.
- 100% cotton for a low price
- Variety of colors
- Variety of sizes
- Slightly lower quality than others
- No brushed option
What You Need To Know
Barbour clothing has been outfitting fishermen and British upland hunters for more than 125 years. The company is still family-owned, and if there’s one thing you can bet they do well, it makes a flannel. Made from 100% cotton and a bit of elastane with button-down color, the Barbour flannel comes in three distinct colors. We’re particularly enamored with the third color accent check that is introduced in each color combo. Free shipping and returns from Huckberry make this regular fit flannel a great option. It’s also squarely in the middle of our price range.
- The button-down collar delivers a clean, refined look
- Elastine gives just a bit of stretch
- Great history
- Maybe pricier than you’d like
- Color choices may turn some off
What You Need To Know
Madewell, owned by J.Crew, has made both women’s and men’s clothing for many years. The Flannel Sunday shirt is 100% cotton and is a great addition to their already bulging line of great men’s options. Despite the name, you will want to wear it every day, and it’s quite affordable for a well made (get it?) flannel shirt.
Available in three, monotone colors, it fits true to size as a regular and is available small to XXL. Sunday is perfect for those early fall backyard BBQs and college football tailgates. It also works well with a pair of chinos or khakis.
- Price is right
- Monotone elevates the style
- Versatile and durable pick
- No fit choices, regular only
- Lack of color options
What You Need To Know
Certainly, one of the exploding names in men’s clothing, Bonobos does a lot of things very well, and flannel shirts are just another one of those things. Available in slim, tailored, or standard and varying shirt lengths, the Bonobos Flannel is an amazing option for the man that likes a custom experience. There are nine different colors to choose from, each with differing patterns. 100% cotton means you’re getting breathability and warmth. We’re also impressed with the buttons, which match nicely with the off-color in each check. Machine washable and easily cared for, this shirt can be found on the lower end of our pricing range as well.
- Highly customizable
- Great color choices
- Machine washable & dryable
- Brushed flannel only
What You Need To Know
Legendary Whitetails offers a truly outdoors feel. Available in a slew of different colors and sizes, and available at the very low end of our range, these double-pleated shirts offer a great look while offering lasting durability. 100% brushed cotton means you’re keeping warm, and the corduroy lining in the collar and cuffs keeps the cool air out. Available in big and tall and machine washable, this flannel is perfect for the man that needs to get out and get work done.
- Corduroy lining adds a nice touch
- Truly warm
- Available pencil pocket
- Heavy, not for indoors
- Subject to shrinkage
What You Need To Know
Available in a variety of colors with check and plaid to match anyone’s taste, this flannel offers a warm 100% cotton shirt that breathes well. The color selection for this flannel was among the strongest out there. With 35 color varieties in total, you could wear a new flannel every day of the month and still never wear something twice.
When it comes to quality, men have reported that the shirts are very well made with extra sturdy sewing and great fit. And, at the very bottom end of our price range, you can’t go wrong.
- 100% cotton fabric
- Sturdy construction
- Untested brand
What You Need To Know
How To Wear A Flannel Shirt
1. To Tuck or Untuck?
This highly depends on the weight of your flannel. If you’ve got something thicker, you may want to keep it untucked, otherwise, you’ll be hot and uncomfortable. Dress flannels, however, are made from a thinner fabric and can often be tucked into any style of pants.
2. Wear With Denim Jeans
Flannels harken the inner lumberjack and outdoorsmen. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can’t look nice too. Dark, tailored denim jeans complete the refined, outdoorsy look you’re going for.
3. Shoe Selection Sets The Tone
Go with chukka boots over Chelsea boots – chukka is less formal but make a strong statement about your outfit. You can wear flannel with sneakers and other shoes, but they won’t quite work as well as chukkas.
4. Complimentary Scent To Complete The Package
Are you working on a beard? Get a nice woods-scented beard oil. This helps condition the hair and the skin and gives you a clean, refined presence. No beard? That’s alright, a woodsy cologne will work just as well.
5. Pair With A Sensible Jacket
When wearing a flannel shirt, its important that you don’t wear it with a complimentary flannel jacket. While it may be tempting (as it is still flannel), we would recommend wearing a solid color jacket that compliments the aggressive pattern or style of flannel.
Flannel Shirt FAQs
How do you keep flannel shirts from shrinking?
The most important thing you can do to keep your flannel from shrinking is to follow the washing instructions. This is especially true if the flannel is made from a natural fiber like wool. The rule of thumb, if that tag starts to get a little worn, is wool is always hung dry, and cotton can be tumble dried low.
How often should you wash flannel shirts?
If you’re wearing your flannel with an undershirt (which you should), then washing after wearing a few times is fine, as long as the fabric doesn’t look overly loose or wrinkly. If you’re wearing a wool flannel, you can get away with washing less frequently because the fabric naturally wicks sweat away from the body.
Who makes the best flannel shirts?
This is highly dependent on your needs. There are a lot of good brands that have emerged in recent years. The best thing to do is to stop and think about what you want from your flannel. Then, work your way down our list and find a shirt to match.
How to wash flannel shirts?
Again, this varies depending on the material and finish of the fabric. Following the care instructions by far is the most important factor here. If you’re ever unsure, contact the company.
What are some classic flannel colors?
The most classic flannel color that a men can add to their wardrobe, and often a recommend pattern for first time flannel owners, will be the classic red and black plaid or check design. This classic color combo can be worn with a variety of styles – making it a great addition to any wardrobe.1
Flannel vs. Jackets vs. Chamois vs. Dress Shirts
It’s important to draw a bit of a distinction between these three types of shirts, which are often confused.
Flannels – These are designed for warmth and often intended for casual wear. Of course, there are exceptions, and there are plenty of dressier flannels out there, but generally, you’re wearing your flannel to a casual occasion. There’s also no need to iron flannel.
Flannel Jackets – Beyond flannel shirts, many brands also make flannel jackets. These differ significantly from flannel shirts as jackets will have additional insulation in order to fend of the cold winter elements. Often paired with a quilted interior lining (similar to a quilted jacket), flannel jackets are heavyweight and are worn in tandem with a lightweight undershirt.
Chamois – These are typically solid in color and are thick like flannel. They also use cotton as their primary fabric – seems similar right?
Chamois tends to be a bit thicker and offers a cleaner look.
Dress Shirts – A shirt which we all likely have experience with, are much thinner and are often tailored. These are the shirt you’re wearing for business occasions and are nearly always tucked in.
How We Chose The Best Flannel Shirts For Men
We looked at a variety of features when we chose our best flannel shirts for men of 2020. Comparing the below elements helped us narrow down what we looked for in great flannel shirts. It’s up to each man to determine what he wants out of a flannel shirt.
- Fabric Treatment
- Style / Color Options
Regardless of what you decide, the above should be a well-rounded list to work for any man out there.
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