A truly awesome flannel shirt is an extension of its owner. It’s a sturdy piece of clothing that you can put on at any time and feel great. You might think of it as a more socially acceptable alternative to a sweatshirt, but it’s so much more than that. It’s sturdy. It is elegant. It has a longer lifespan than a dog, but smells a lot like a dog and can also be trusted not to judge or object to food falling on it.
Flannel is everywhere these days. But, even in the age of flannel ubiquity, it’s hard to find a great, durable men’s flannel shirt. Don’t be fooled: most of the newer versions are made of lower quality materials sewn around thoughtless patterns. To find a flannel shirt suitable for non-working Sundays, home games and social events, you need to know exactly what makes the shirt something special: the right sartorial material and a decent fit. Here is, according to expert flannel suppliers, how to find it.
How to find the right flannel shirt material
“Start with cotton,” says Rob Rosenblum, COO at Dakota grizzly. “The longer and cleaner the cotton size, the better the quality of cotton you have.”
In the past, almost all flannel shirts were made from 100% cotton. Woolrich, Pendleton and even Abercrombie have built fortunes on the back of the fabric. But as manufacturing methods became modern and cheap, stretch fabrics became fashionable, purists found themselves in the minority. Buyers today have to check out or buy vintage.
“A 100% cotton flannel will be different from a cotton-poly blend or other synthetic material,” says Brian Davis, who runs the famous Brooklyn-based second-hand clothing store. Wooden sleepers. “It might not seem like a difference, but if you’re looking to have a flannel that gets more comfortable and seems to fit better over time, you’re going to want to go with cotton.”
As for materials to avoid, Stephania Schwartz, stylist at the clothing subscription service Point correction recommend that you avoid polyester. Polyester, she points out, “gets sour quickly with sweat, which is a no-no.” Part of the cool of wearing a flannel shirt all the time is that your partner or kids can borrow it or treat it like an avatar (dance with it, confide in it). It doesn’t work if the shirt stinks.
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How to find the perfect fit for a flannel shirt
Whether you’re buying a new suit or a new shirt, it’s essential to put everything away (if you have to take it all off, it’s too late to look good). This is not necessarily the case for flannels. In fact, Davis thinks “flannels shouldn’t fit too perfectly.” Why? For the very reason we’ve all come to love these shirts – they’re designed to be worn tough. “These are shirts designed for activity and movement, so paying too much attention to the fit is not a good place to start,” he adds. “A flannel is at its best when it fits like an overshirt. Not loose, but not made to measure. The basic idea is that you are looking for something closer to a “blanket” than a “second skin”.
The more cynical case to evaluate a bit has to do with, hey, you’re not getting any younger,
“Flannels look a lot like jeans,” says Rosenblum. “Consumers expect them to become more comfortable over time. People never want to change their size because of an uncomfortable fit. So make sure that the flannel you are trying on is neither too big nor too small.
But how do you know which shirt will stand the test of time? Consider the things about yourself that are the least likely to change. Think about the shoulders and sleeve, and then make sure the shirt doesn’t hang lower than the middle of your front pocket (you’re wearing jeans in this scenario). Does this focus guarantee success? No. Understanding that success is never guaranteed is an integral part of the flannel lifestyle. But it gives your 100% cotton friend a fighting chance.
What should i keep in mind when buying a flannel shirt?
Once you’ve made a plan for the material and fit, what else do you need to know while you’re on the hunt for the perfect flannel? Stitch Fix stylist Jennifer D. advises taking into account context, tastes and, if you like 9 to 5, professionalism.
“Keep your opportunity in mind,” says Jennifer. “If you are looking for a t-shirt with jeans, a relaxed flannel for the weekend, go for a hybrid or regular fit. Want a flannel that can do double duty for work and weekends? Buy a flannel that fits closer to the body so you can wear it the same way you would with a regular oxford or dress shirt.
Ultimately, Davis just wants customers to stop settling for flannels they don’t like.
“We refuse 99% of flannels because of their poor quality,” he laughs. “We’re always on the lookout for that gem that we know people will love. Customers should have a similar mindset. Hold on for the one you are truly passionate about.