Flannel vs Plaid – Everything You Need To Know About Plaid Vs Flannel

Flannel vs. Plaid – Everything You Need To Know Plaid Vs Flannel

The terms “flannel” and “plaid” are often used interchangeably. When we say “I’m going to put on a flannel,” we sometimes mean “I’m going to put on a plaid shirt,” but since the two are often grouped, many people don’t realize the distinction between them. So if they are not the same, then what the difference between flannel and plaid is, plaid vs flannel?

To put it simply, “flannel” refers to the fabric of a shirt, while “plaid” refers to the pattern. This means that while you can have a plaid flannel, not all flannels are plaid, and not all plaid shirts are flannels, that’s flannel vs plaid.

While it may seem a little trivial, knowing the difference between a real flannel and a simple plaid print cotton shirt is necessary when trying to dress appropriately, both for style and comfort. 

How To Identify Flannel And Plaid

Since the very definitions of flannel and plaid are not related to each other, one referring to the material and workmanship of an item and the other to the design or print, flannel and plaid actually fall into two completely different categories. Although they are often associated and many stores refer to all plaid shirts as “flannel,” they are not inherently the same.

It’s easy to tell if a shirt is plaid or not by looking at it and examining the design. If the shirt print is made up of horizontal and vertical colored bands that form a crisscross pattern, then the shirt is plaid. Although the bands are often made in different colors and widths, the plaid is practically recognizable on all levels.

Flannel, however, can be a bit more challenging to determine. Traditionally, flannel was made from wool, but cotton has become the leading brand of flannel in modern times.

To best verify if what you are buying is really flannel, check the description on the product label. If it’s made of wool, then you definitely get flannel. However, if it is made mostly of cotton, the way the shirt is put on will determine whether the shirt is considered flannel or not.

Typically, modern cotton flannel is strung precisely for heat retention, and the description should show this. If the label on your shirt says it is made from a mix of different materials while still having a plaid pattern, it is doubtful whether it is authentic flannel. And while flannel tends to have a checkered pattern, it’s also available in pretty much any solid color.

Origin Of Plaid And Flannel

The plaid goes way back in time to Scotland, where the plaid is most often called “tartan”. Although it has roots in Scottish history as a symbol of identity and loyalty, the plaid became popular in the 1970s. In the blink of an eye, the plaid did not. has no longer been found only on traditional kilts in Scotland, but on beautiful costumes and even wallpaper all over America and London.

Plaid is also known to be quite versatile in its connotation and vibe. Although it was often used in private school uniforms and in more formal settings, it was also popular among the ’90s punk scenes and sexualized by southern beauty Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard.

Flannel, on the other hand, was first found in Wales in the 17th century. Unlike plaid, whose roots are firmly embedded in culture and expression, flannel was a practical solution to protect farmers in Wales from various weather patterns and elements.

Ironically, over time, flannel has continued to be a popular selection among blue-collar workers who appreciate its durability and comfort throughout a workday. Being able to beat the cold was the original intention of the flannel garment; however, in modern times, the flannel shirt is associated with manly pride and a kind of sturdiness that goes hand in hand with the cut of wood then starting the fire from scratch.

While no one can say for sure when flannel and plaid first met, it is assumed that the close relationship began in the 1700s with Scottish kilts. While the tartan or plaid signified Scottish identity and heritage, the flannel material was designed for warmth and protection.

Thus was born the checkered flannel, and while the two can exist quite well without the other, they undoubtedly go well together. The thickness of the flannel and the plaid style goes well with the fall and winter aesthetic, which is why they always seem to make a comeback once October arrives each year.

How To Wear Plaid

Since this is a particular style and look, it goes without saying that plaid is not for everyone. The plaid in the form of flannel is probably the most discreet and common way to wear the plaid, and many men wouldn’t be caught dead in the plaid any other way. While plaid had its day as a filthy, punky necessity in the ’90s, for the most part, plaid is currently relatively preparatory and formal, becoming a bit too stuffy for some.

However, when done correctly, a pair of cute plaid pants with a white button-up while on vacation can make a statement of confidence and poise. Even a plaid shirt that is not flannel but a lapel and collar can be dressed up and made to impress on special occasions.

If you’re interested but nervous to try your hand at plaid, give it a try in December. Your chances of blending in with this iconic print and not being too loud are much more remarkable given the holiday season and the aesthetic. Of course, if you’d rather keep things casual and stick with your classic checkered flannel, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

How To Wear Flannel

Even if you’re not a beefy man with a beard, a plaid or plaid flannel can still be pulled off by just about anyone. However, if you are looking to retain the warmth and comfort of a flannel while removing the typical pattern, try solid-colored flannels.

Ironically, when the plaid is put on a flannel, it appears to dress the shirt down instead of dressing it as the plaid does more often. Therefore, if you are looking for a solid work shirt that is not too stiff or stiff, a solid color flannel might do the trick.

While you can wear flannel for a casual workday or blue-collar workers, it’s probably best to stick with classic buttons for more formal events or occasions. Whichever way you choose to wear your flannel, remember flannel retains heat, which means you won’t want to wear it in humid or hot weather.


While the pair may be part of two entirely different worlds, combining the texture of flannel with the look of plaid was a stellar idea that has paid off for the company. While there are endless options for doing plaid flannel work, it’s also a versatile set that can be tweaked and changed to suit every man’s preference.

This casual and everyday combo will undoubtedly go down in history as a timeless classic, meaning it will never really go out of style.

Are plaid and flannel the same?

Although flannel and plaid often go together, flannel is a fabric; plaid is a pattern. Plaid can appear in any number of fabrics and colors, and flannel can come in a variety of patterns (although, unless you’re looking at flannel sheets or pajamas, plaid is by far the most common pattern on flannel).

Are flannel shirts always plaid?

Plaid flannel shirts look cool yet classic. But are flannel shirts always plaid? It’s a good question that has a great answer: Plaid is actually the pattern, and flannel is the fabric. So, while flannel shirts are often done up in plaids, they certainly don’t have to be!

How can you tell if a shirt is flannel?

What is flannel? Flannel is a woven fabric most typically made from wool or cotton (if it’s a flannel shirt, you can usually count on it being the latter). What distinguishes flannel from other woven fabrics is its “napping,” which refers to the slightly raised texture of the fabric.

What makes flannel different?

What makes it different from “ordinary” fabrics? The cloth has an impressive ability to hold in heat and insulate. Yet it can still be breathable enough to wick moisture away. But what most people don’t understand is that flannel is a fabric, not a pattern.

What’s the difference between check and plaid?

Checks are two colors and have the same stripe pattern in the warp and the weft. The finished cloth is always symmetrical. Plaids have more than two colors and more variety in their stripe layouts. They sometimes have the same pattern in the warp and the weft, but not always.

What is flannel design called?

All About Plaid Plaid is a pattern or print that you see on fabric. You can recognize it from the crisscross pattern formed by vertical and horizontal bands of colors. The bands can be made with different colors and the print can be used on different fabrics, one of which is flannel.

Why is flannel called flannel?

The origin of the word is uncertain, but a Welsh origin has been suggested as fabric similar to flannel can be traced back to Wales, where it was well known as early as the 16th century. The fabric was called ”Welsh cotton” unlike its name, it was a coarse woolen material with a fluffed surface similar to flannel.

Is flannel breathable?

Both cotton and flannel are breathable. But the napping process responsible for flannel’s fuzzy texture also traps warm air. So although flannel is more loosely woven than cotton, it’s also naturally warmer. Choose flannel when you want to retain warmth while you snooze and cotton if you want to sleep cooler.

Who started wearing flannels?

Flannel can be traced back to 17th century Wales, where farmers wore flannel shirts to protect themselves from the elements. This tradition would continue for other blue-collar workers as the prevalence of flannel grew.

What exactly is flannel?

A soft, medium-weight cotton fabric that has a napped, or fuzzy, finish on one or both sides. This napped finish either comes from brushing or from its characteristic loosely spun weave. Its soft, cozy feel makes it the perfect fabric to keep you warm and comfortable all winter long.

Is cotton flannel the same as flannel?

Cotton and flannel are two very common words we often hear in the textile industry. … Cotton is a fiber that is taken from the cotton plant. Flannel is a fabric that is made from cotton, wool or synthetic fiber. Thus, the main difference between cotton and flannel is that cotton is a fiber whereas flannel is a fabric.

Does flannel have red in it?

Flannel clothing, historically, has often been designed with plaid patterns. That classic red and black shirt- the one I’m most often seen wearing around- is a plaid flannel shirt. Plaid can be any variety of colors, but red and black is a common one among us lumberjacks. … And remember- EVERY day is flannel season!

What is shirting flannel?

A flannel shirt fabric is a particularly soft woven fabric that has undergone a special brushing treatment to get a fuzzy texture. … Many might be familiar with wool suiting flannels, but the majority of shirting flannels tend to be made with cotton. Flannel fabrics are popular for casual wear in the colder months.

Is flannel too hot for summer?

Are Flannel Sheets Good For Summer? … Because high-quality flannel is breathable while still warm, most people will find it a perfectly acceptable year-round sheet material. However, some people might find that flannel is too warm during hot summer months, simply because of how it can trap heat in.

Is flannel water resistant?

You may think of wool as water-resistant, because you can often see rain bead up and run off its surface. … Splash a bucket of water on a proper flannel shirt and it stays dry.

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