Flannel plaid shirts hanging in window light.

Flannels are everywhere and for a good reason. They're soft, comfortable, yet rugged and allow complete freedom of movement. However, many brands try to capitalize on their popularity and make them with substandard materials. 

So, the trick is in knowing how to find the best flannel shirts that last. You don't need a low-quality flannel just for the sake of wearing it. You need a quality shirt that can withstand the test of time and wear.

We prepared this guide to help you learn what makes a well-made flannel, well, well-made, and how to find the best flannel shirt that will last for years to come.

What Are Flannels?

Often confused with plaid, flannel is more of a fabric than the pattern of a shirt. It’s a woven fabric typically made from cotton or wool. It’s often brushed for a soft, almost fuzzy texture. However, flannel shirts can also be unbrushed or brushed on only one side. These shirts typically have a thicker weave than other cotton shirts, making them perfect for colder weather.

Characteristics of Flannel Fabric

Flannel fabric is known for its:

  • Softness: Flannel fabric is most famous for being cozy and comfortable because of its soft fibers, loose weave, and brushed, napped texture.
  • Warmth: This fabric retains heat very well. For that reason, flannel is a popular choice for outdoor clothing.
  • Moisture-wicking properties: Flannel is very breathable due to its loose weave, meaning the fabric will wick away moisture rather than trapping it.

Why Are Flannel Shirts Popular?

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Flannel shirts have always been popular, and it’s no surprise why. One of the best qualities of the flannel shirt is the brushed finish of the cotton, meaning the shirt already has a soft, broken-in feel. A perfect example of such soft flannel is this Timberland PRO shirt. And the black and red combination is just so stylish.

Another reason why flannel shirts are so popular is their versatility. You can find flannel shirts in various weights to suit different weather conditions. 

For example, flannel shirts that weigh around 4 ounces are ideal for early spring and early fall when the weather is coldish but not so cold you need to wear an additional layer. You can find flannel shirts that weigh up to 7 ounces. Heavyweight flannel is an excellent choice for late fall and winter when the temperature significantly drops. This Timberland PRO flannel can be your best friend during cold months.

They also come in various fits, and they’re available with straight hem bottoms, classic tails, and curved hems. When it comes to collar and pocket styles, you can find flannel shirts with standard collars and button-down collars. And the pocket styles range from single chest to double flap utility pockets.

Why Well-Made Flannel Shirts Are Important

Well-made flannel shirts are an essential part of every working men’s wardrobe because they are timeless and adaptable. They’re built to last, they never go out of style, and you can wear them with just about anything.

The Best Flannel Shirts Are Timeless

17th-century Welsh farmers were the first people to wear flannels. They wore heavy overshirts of carded wool or worsted yarn. The fabric crossed the Atlantic ocean with early American settlers and became a staple in places with colder weather. The border moved west, and flannel followed, settling in the lumber camps of the Pacific Northwest.

Flannel shirts are such a lasting fashion staple because of their ability to combine practicality with rugged good looks. However, they have become something of a catch-all term for plaid shirts of any quality or thickness. If you want quality, you need to look for durable flannel that merges ruggedness and softness. Fast-fashion and mass-market flannels just won’t do.

The Best Flannel Shirts Are Adaptable

A rough and rugged flannel shirt pairs well with all kinds of work trousers. All you need to do is match the colors. Besides that, they pair effortlessly with raw denim, so you can wear your flannels outside work too. 

The best flannel shirts are designed to be thrown on whenever you need that extra layer. Many flannels have a brushed interior you can wear directly on your skin, but they also make excellent layering pieces.

How to Identify a Well-Made Flannel Shirt

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Fashion brands have always tried to capitalize on the popularity of flannels and plaids. And although these luxurious plaid pieces have a hefty price tag, they are far from the rugged shirts we’re talking about here. Let’s take a look at how you can ensure you get your money’s worth.

Material It’s Made Of

The best flannel shirts are made of 100% cotton. Although synthetic fabrics don’t break the rules of flannel, and some manufacturers might introduce polyester into the mix, cotton flannels are still the most comfortable and functional options.

Weight is also a good guide when it comes to flannel shirts, as with most workwear. A well-made flannel shirt won’t be as heavy as a wool sweater or a jacket. However, it should be weighing towards the outer shirt domain and have some weight when you take it in your hands.

High-quality flannels will also have some loft - thickness that is the result of brushing one or both sides of the shirt. It should feel both durable and soft, but not too soft. Avoid shirts that have fleece anywhere on the label - that’s recycled plastic, and it won’t do you any good during those long working hours.

Moreover, the manufacturer should attempt to re-interpret the plaid and place their spin on it, regardless of how classic the pattern is. That can mean a weave that reveals its complexity when examined closely or a subtle variation in the classic colors. You will see and feel the difference, especially when you put the shirt on, as the quality is woven into the shirt.

When shopping for the best flannel shirts, look for:

  • Loft
  • Weight
  • 100% cotton
  • Classic patterns well executed
  • Plaids in rich earthy tones
  • Brushed on one or both sides

How the Flannel Shirt Is Made

Once you’ve assessed the fabric, look at the hardware. If the shirt is fastened with a zipper or plastic buttons, you don’t have to examine it further. Ideally, the shirt should have heavy-duty snaps, not only down the front but also on the cuffs and pockets.

The collar and cuffs should be hefty and firm, with sturdy stitching. You should also see some of the hallmarks of careful tailoring on the inside of the shirt. 

You’ll want to look for flat-felled seams with edges of the fabric rolled over and a single needle stitching - one row of stitching on the outside, but two rows so close as to almost overlap on the inside. These labor-intensive practices produce tighter, cleaner seams that stay tight when you wear the shirt.

When you try the shirt, look at how it fits in the mirror. Has the tailor tried to create the piece that follows the curves of the human figure, or is it boxy and shapeless? Although flannel shirts may be perfect to throw over a long sleeve or t-shirt, it doesn’t mean they should hang down from your shoulders. If you have to add two or more layers to make your shirt look full, you have the wrong shirt or the incorrect size.

When buying a flannel shirt, look for these construction details:

  • Clean stitching
  • Flat-felled seams
  • Heavy-duty hardware
  • Single-needle construction
  • Sturdy cuffs and collars
  • Close or tailored fit

How Durable It Is

High-quality flannel shirts aren’t made to fade the same way denim is. We expect a great flannel to age beautifully and retain its colors for years to come, and great designers make them with that in mind.

The tailor and weaver collaborate to create a shirt that will stand the test of time and not break to pieces in the bush or wash. The fabric is almost as tough as kevlar, and the same goes for the seams. If you choose to invest in a well-made flannel, it’ll be there to keep you warm for years to come.

How to Find The Perfect Fit

A women enjoying nature and wearing flannel shirts and hat.

Flannels shouldn’t fit too perfectly because they are built to be worn hard. These shirts are meant for movement and activity. That’s why you shouldn’t look for flannels that are a perfect fit. A flannel shirt is at its best when it fits like an overshirt - not tailor-fit, but not baggy.

Also, note that flannels are similar to jeans - they won’t get more comfortable over time. That’s why you should make sure that the flannel isn't too small or too big. 

But how to tell whether the flannel will stand the test of time? Think about what parts of your body are least likely to change. Consider your shoulders and sleeves, and then ensure the shirt doesn’t hang lower than the middle of the front pocket of your trousers or jeans.

Timberland PRO Flannel Shirts

Timberland PRO is well-known for its flannel shirts. They are carefully crafted with only high-quality materials and can last a lifetime. Besides that, they are super comfortable, which is very important for men who are highly active during their working hours. Don’t miss a chance to do an excellent job while looking your best.

The Best Flannel Shirts Make Life Easier

Flannel shirts indeed make life easier. When you work in them, you have complete freedom of movement, feel comfortable yet powerful, and look great. Apart from that, you can wear them with virtually anything outside work and get that undone manly look.

So, feel free to check our collection of the best flannel shirts, get yours, and perform, feel, and look your best.

Flannel shirts