How to Style a Flannel?

What is Flannel?

To digress for a moment—what exactly IS flannel? Well, it isn't one specific type of weave or cotton. You may have heard that it's made from wool or cotton but that's incorrect information.

Flannel is achieved through the combing of 2 different fibers in order to create something both soft and durable - usually 100% cotton with no more than 10% polyester.

types of flannel shirt

Flannel is a woven textile in a 2/1 twill, meaning two yarns are woven together at a 45 degree angle and one of them floats across the fabric to create an attractive diagonal rib. This style is usually achieved with cotton or cotton-blend fabrics, but can be done on any material you want—even silk if you wanted to get really fancy.

Know the purpose of your flannel shirt

When I was younger, my mother used to say "If you haven't got anything nice to say then don't say anything at all." Which basically meant "Don't start drama". In turning down her advice, I became known for my hot temper and my mouth.

I'm not proud of it but that's just who I am.

But when it comes to dressing in a professional setting, I give my best advice with open arms.

One key factor in wearing flannel in the workplace is knowing the purpose of your shirt. For example; if you're trying to look very stylish in your office environment, then flannel probably isn't an option for you.

man doing presentation wearing flannel shirt

That doesn't mean that you can't wear it at all - it means that you should potentially pick something else or style it differently. Maybe keep the pattern more toned down with only one patterned section on your shirt instead of multiple plaid patterns all throughout.

Everything has a purpose - whether it be casual or professional.

Can you wear flannel in a professional setting?

Of course! Just remember some rules...

man holding laptop in office wearing flannel shirt

Everyday there's more and more stories of men being discriminated against for their style choices, so I think it's good to provide a simple answer to this question: yes, you can wear flannel in a professional setting. But as with everything else, there are some rules on what not to do when wearing flannel in the workplace. The main thing is that if the shirt has multiple patterns (multiple plaids), then you need to tone down one of them so that they don't clash so much. If all your shirt is made up of is plaid; great! But make sure you know how to wear it correctly and work with the shirt's fabric.

How to Style a Flannel?

1. Know the purpose of your flannel shirt:

flannel shirt hanging on coat hook

A flannel shirt is best worn when it is functional and necessary, not just because you like the color or pattern of the fabric. If you are in the market for one, consider what activities you may be participating in during colder days that require extra warmth—are you building furniture in your living room? Fall hiking at higher altitudes where temperatures can drop quickly? Or, do you simply run cold and need some outerwear to keep yourself warm? You will be most comfortable when at least one of these reasons applies to your wardrobe situation.

2. Learn the Shirt's Cut:

When buying a flannel shirt, know what type of cut it is because whether you are layering under your blazer or wearing it on its own, proportions are important. Slimmer-cut shirts tend to fit better under layers, so consider that if you plan to wear a shirt over your work shirt at the office. If wearing as an outfit on its own for a casual setting, slimmer tailored cuts look best with slim-fit jeans and boots/shoes for a more polished finish.

3. Wear the Right Flannel Shirt:

Though they come in various patterns and colors, try to stick with certain basics when choosing your flannel shirts – think navy blue or gray as a base color, and patterns such as plaid or speckled as your accent.

man taking selfie while wearing navy blue flannel shirt

Navy blue is the most versatile color to wear because it pairs well with any neutral color from khakis to jeans to gray slacks, whereas lighter pastels will look best on their own due to the nature of the color itself without layering.

4. Work With The Shirt's Layers:

Though flannels are warm and good for extra layers during colder months, they can also be comfortable worn on their own—the key is layering correctly so that you aren't too hot but you still stay warm through out the day like normal.

flannel mixed and match with other clothing

Instead of wearing a bulky sweater over your flannel shirt (which create an unnecessary amount of bulk), wear a slim-fitting blazer over your flannel shirt for work. The blazer should be fitted enough to allow you to move around easily while still staying true the "office attire" dress code, and should be a solid color to create a polished finish.

If wearing on its own for a more casual setting, consider a Harrington jacket or varsity bomber from Uniqlo which have been trending this fall/winter season as another layer option that adds personality without being too bulky.

5. Work With The Shirt's Color:

Similar to layering your flannel shirts, wearing them with other items in your outfit is also contingent upon choosing colors that complement one another well so that you don't clash—a key principle in men's fashion.

For instance, it may be difficult to wear a bright blue shirt with pink pants which is why you likely won't see that look out in the streets. However, pairing a more subtle navy blue shirt with gray pants or khakis will give an outfit some pop and contrast without being too flashy of clashing.

6. Work With The Shirt's Fabric:

Wearing flannel shirts also means knowing which fabrics work best depending on your activity for the day and environment for your climate. A heavy lumberjack-style flannel where there are multiple layers of fabric will keep you warmer than lighter flannels such as chambray due to its weight and thickness of the material—but this type of style works well when wearing on its own or with layers underneath.

different colors of fannel fabrics

For flannels that are lightweight consider patterns such as Houndstooth, which keeps fabrics "open" and breezy for warmer months, whereas heavier plaid keeps the body warm but allow moisture to escape through ventilation holes throughout the shirt.

7. Work With The Shirt's Accessories:

Accessories provide a welcome pop of color or pattern when paired correctly with your outfit—just be sure to take note on the scale of the accessories compared to what you are wearing so it doesn't look out of proportion.

man wearing color combined flannel shirt and hat

A perfect example is pairing ties with flannels – go for checkered wool ties in autumnal colors for a great pairing that provides a cool pop of pattern without going full-on bold.

8. Dress Down With a Flannel Shirt:

Though they are casual items that convey a sense of ruggedness and can work well in a professional setting, flannels also look great with more relaxed fits like chinos or jeans for the weekend. Try denim jacket with your flannel shirt (denim jackets are another key piece that every male wardrobe should include) to give you some extra warmth on brisk days, or swap out dress pants for comfy joggers or sweatpants.

Just make sure to wear boots if it's cold outside, but do avoid wearing sneakers unless you're headed to the gym because they'll break up the typical casual-yet-not combination of flannels and jeans/chinos.

9. Keep Warm With a Flannel Shirt:

Keeping it casual also means keeping yourself warm during the colder months—which is why flannels make for great outer garments.

man with flannel beard and pack stands in snow in woods

A classic option is to wear your flannel over a T-shirt with denim jeans, but consider something like joggers to keep you comfy indoors as well if you're off to do errands or want to lounge around at home all day.

Go straight-layering with just your flannel shirt and an undershirt—not that ridiculous long sleeve t-shirt that peeks out of your sleeves every time you stretch your arms up–and you'll be comfortable without looking sloppy.

10. Layer Up With a Flannel Shirt: Layer properly

There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to wear a flannel shirt in a professional setting, but it requires some key principles that will elevate your look and maintain its formality.

man layering outfit style with flannel shirt

The easiest way to do this is by following the "3 Layer Rule". This means that your flannel shirt should always be one of three layers, and never at the forefront. For instance, a great classic look would include a flannel underneath a dress coat or blazer—but instead of wearing an undershirt for this combination, consider going without because the collar will fold over properly without it. The other two layers should consist of either a T-shirt or collared button down as well as another jacket for those especially chilly days.

Another option is to wear a long sleeve tee underneath your flannel shirt instead so you can have two shirts on at once while maintaining simplicity. Simply tuck in the flannel shirt neatly into your pants around your waist and layer your button down or tee on top so it's visible. Make sure to dress down the look with simple jeans and boots, but swap out your sneakers for Chelsea boots because they're much more stylish than sneakers in this context.


No matter your profession, age, size etc: everyone can wear flannel no matter what the occasion is and we always encourage men to go for it because comfortability helps us become our best selves. The main takeaway from this article is that you should never be afraid of wearing flannel because there's so many different ways to style them - so get out there and try not to look back!


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