Has the casual wear icon, the plaid flannel shirt, left the fashion stage again? Not by a long shot. The traditional favorite is anything but dead. One only needed to turn on the winter olympics to be reminded of the elevated status of our bold and colorful old friend.
The USA’s snowboard team led by the incomparable and enthusiastic Shaun White is a perfect example. The team wore a uniform during the men’s and women’s halfpipe competition designed by Burton to be the Gore-Tex equivalent of the quintessential piece of Americana… A bright plaid in red, white and blue cut in the bulky style of a flannel lumberjack or board shirt.
These choices make it clear that plaid and therefore flannel have situated themselves securely in the contemporary once again. If it has been cemented into the current skate and boarding culture then it is clearly here to stay, at least for a while.
But despite the continuing popularity of the high voltage version, an undercurrent of interest is placing value on the standard flannel shirt with a few fashion adjustments. The go-to, warm and comfy shirt is showing up in simple, solid colors and fitted instead of the usual lumberjack mass. Sales have been brisk of this more subtle contender. It appears that the wardrobe of the casual is making room for a new, more classy alternative.
The shift seems to be more urban than rural and clearly involves the continuing interest in comfortable, casual, interchangeable, separates chosen with an eye toward style. The solid colors offer the benefit of a much more easily matched outfit, and the slightly more fitted cut leaves its wearer ready to layer either above or below.
In the opinion of the author, however, it could just as much be about ease of use! Flannel shirts in medium to heavy weight fabric are so versatile that they are equally good for class on Monday as they are for a date on Friday… just as pleasant under a jacket in winter as with sleeves rolled up on a summer’s eve.
So while there is no end in sight for the popularity of the classic plaid flannel shirt there is clearly a growing demand for a variety of cozy outerwear a touch more subdued than its criss-crossed and crazy cousin.