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Styling a flannel shirt

Flannels are versatile wardrobe staples, but you might be wondering how to style one for fall. Whether your look is preppy, alternative or anything in between, you have plenty of choices.  

The trouble with fall outfits is that temperatures can range from mild, verging on warm, to downright wintry. What’s great about flannel shirts is that you can layer them in various ways to suit the weather. 

What is flannel?

Flannel is a soft, woven fabric. Traditionally, it was made from wool, but today it’s most commonly made from cotton, especially flannel used to make shirts. It can be brushed to increase its softness. This is a process in which machines rub a fine metal brush over the fabric to raise some of the fibers and make it softer to the touch. 

Are all flannels plaid?

“Flannel shirt” is often used as a generic term for any plaid shirt. However, not all plaid shirts are flannel, and not all flannel shirts are plaid. A flannel shirt is one made from flannel material. 

While plaid flannel shirts are extremely popular, you can also find solid-colored flannels and those in prints other than plaid. You have plenty of options, whether you choose a classic red flannel in plaid or buffalo check, a more muted plaid in hues, such as greens or grays or a solid color. 

Ways to style a flannel shirt for fall

As fall arrives and the temperature starts to drop, flannels are ideal for keeping warm before it gets cold enough for winter coats. But you might still be wondering how to style one for fall. These are a handful of stylish ideas.

Under a jacket

On crisp fall days when just a flannel isn’t enough, wear one under a jacket. To best show it off, button your shirt but keep your jacket undone. Pair it with a denim jacket for a relaxed yet cool look or a leather or faux leather jacket for an edgier style. 

Over a T-shirt

A classic look for a relatively mild fall day is to wear your flannel shirt unbuttoned over a T-shirt. This adds an extra layer of warmth but won’t leave you sweltering. Neutral, solid-colored shirts work well here — especially black or white ones — as they don’t make your outfit look too busy. You can also try wearing a band T-shirt under your flannel for a more alternative look.

With shorts

Some fall days, it’s too cool to wear just a T-shirt but not yet cold enough to wear long pants. On these occasions, pairing your flannel with shorts is a great idea. It’s a versatile look because you can wear your shirt buttoned up for warmth or unbuttoned over a T-shirt for a more casual vibe. 

This look works with all kinds of shorts, from jean shorts to cargo shorts to tailored shorts or chino shorts. You can go super casual with sneakers or wear boots for a more autumnal look. 

Around your waist

If you want to add a flannel shirt to your look but falls are warm where you live, tie it around your waist to effortlessly take your outfit to the next level. This simple action can turn a drab outfit into something much more interesting. You can wear anything you like on the rest of your body, depending on the weather, from a dress or shorts and a T-shirt to heavy jeans and a turtleneck. 

Under a sweater

Flannels look great worn under sweaters on crisp days when you need an extra layer. Ideally, you should choose a sweater with a low enough neckline to wear the collar of your shirt over the top. Leaving your flannel untucked not only gives this look a casual twist but also shows off more of your shirt. 

Dressed up

While a flannel shirt is never going to look smart enough to wear to a formal event, you can absolutely dress it up enough to look smart-casual. Wear it tucked into dress pants, chinos or even well-fitting black jeans. Put a suit jacket or blazer over the top, and you’ve created a look that’s presentable but not overly formal.

Best flannel shirts

Best Legendary Whitetails Womens Cottage Escape Flannel Shirt

Legendary Whitetails Women’s Cottage Escape Flannel Shirt

Made from a mid-weight soft brushed cotton, this shirt is ideal for fall days. You can choose from 14 plaids and checks, including Navy Army Plaid, Pumpkin Spice Plaid and Black-and-White Buffalo Check. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Dickies Womens Long Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt

Dickies Women’s Long Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt

This hard-wearing flannel has been double-brushed for softness and comes in a range of hues that are perfect for fall, including orange and red and gold and navy plaids. It’s 100% cotton and is warm enough for fall, but not excessively thick. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Goodthreads Womens Long-Sleeve Flannel

Goodthreads Women’s Long-Sleeve Flannel 

With its half-placket, this shirt has a more relaxed look than a fully button-down shirt, but this limits its versatility and the ways you can style it. You can pick from a wide range of colors, including Navy Buffalo Check and Ochre Kilt Plaid. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Amazon Essentials Mens Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt

Amazon Essentials Men’s Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt

Since it’s made from mid-weight cotton, this flannel is perfect for crisp weather. It has a regular fit rather than slim, making it a versatile choice to wear with most outfits. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Legendary Whitetails Men's Buck Camp Flannel Shirt

Legendary Whitetails Men’s Buck Camp Flannel Shirt

From Solid Army Green to Cobalt Plaid, there are a wide range of hues to choose from, all with contrasting corduroy in the cuffs and collar. It’s highly durable, and the chest pocket features a pencil slot, making this shirt practical as well as stylish. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Billabong Mens Classic Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt

Billabong Men’s Classic Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt

Soft and warm, this is an ideal shirt for wearing in the fall. You have a choice of 27 plaid and check designs, including Purple Haze and Oxblood Plaid. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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