A staple of the Fall/Winter season, the humble flannel shirt has evolved from tried-and-true workwear to full-on fashion statement. While the plaid flannel reigned supreme (to the point of overexposure) during the Americana heyday in the early 2010s—like the ceaseless appeal a great pair of jeans—you simply can’t have a complete closet without a trust flannel shirt. Thick or thin, plain or plaid, these are a few of the best flannel shirts on the market.

What Is Flannel?

Before we break down a few of our favorite iterations, we should actually identify what flannel actually is. Often connected to plaid, a material does not need to be printed in order to be a flannel. Technically speaking, flannel is typically made from a thicker-than-average woven wool or soft cotton. Flannel is often brushed to create the fabric’s signature soft-to-the-touch texture.

Flannel History

Flannel shirts can trace their roots back to Scotland and Wales, where the finer, thicker wool was carded (brushed and detangled) before weaving. This process resulted in a durable cotton or wool flannel, which became a favorite among the working classes; by the time of the Industrial Revolution, the United States was producing its own flannel, which was disseminated among blue collar workers—especially those working on the Intercontinental Railroad. By the 1980s and 1990s, flannels became a signature of the burgeoning grunge music scene, epitomized by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

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