When you think of flannel, you probably envision rainy days and cups of piping hot coffee. It's natural imagery that ties into a bygone era–a time when grunge music was the soundtrack of your life and casual garb reigned supreme. The beauty of the humble flannel shirt is that it never really went out of style. Even with the 1990s well and truly entrenched in the annals of fashion history, the softest shirt in the game remained true to us all. It's still here, adding all kinds of warmth and coziness to the chilliest days of the year. But flannel isn't relegated merely to tops. Today, it's as ubiquitous as ever, appearing on everything from cute pajamas to toasty blankets. What's perhaps most surprising, however, is flannel's deep versatility. No longer do you need to take your style inspiration from what you might have worn in 1995. These unexpected looks are sure to give you something new to try for the season.
Flannel is nothing if not a workhorse. There are few materials out there that are as capable of warming you up and looking fashionable at the same time–all without weighing you down with unnecessary volume. That's precisely why flannel is such a dream to wear at the first sign of fall. You can maximize its warming potential by treating it as the ultimate layering piece. An easy way to do that is to wear it beneath a cozy vest, slip into a pair of skinny jeans, and finish with a pair of neutral suede booties. The look is quintessentially autumnal, and you'll feel both comfortable and pulled together. If it's colder outside, try wearing your flannel shirt beneath a cropped moto jacket for cool off-duty vibes. When the weather doesn't warrant anything on top of your flannel, treat your shirt as the jacket instead by wearing it unbuttoned over a light, slightly longer tee.
Flannel–at the office? Absolutely, so long as you're wearing flannel dress pants! They're almost shockingly soft, and they feel so good that you may fall straight into bed at the end of a long day without even realizing they aren't your flannel pajamas. To avoid looking too casual, select a pair that's more fitted, like a traditional trouser style with a straight or slightly tapered leg. Add dressy elements to convey a more polished approach, such as a top that picks up on a color in the pants, a tailored blazer, and a pair of pumps for the perfect finishing touch. Opt for darker hues in general, such as navy, gray, and black, all of which are suitable for corporate environments.
Such is the beauty of flannel: It's so warm that you can almost trust it to fill in for your trusted jacket when you don't want to conceal your chic ensemble with another layer. In that case, make flannel the star of the show! To make this work, select a pair of wide-legged corduroy pants in a contrasting shade that harmonizes well with your shirt. For example, mustard-toned bottoms look surprisingly chic and polished with a red and black flannel shirt. Tuck the shirt in to establish a balanced look from top to bottom, and finish with a pair of chunky sneakers. If you prefer to wear corduroy leggings, you can make it work by wearing a longer corduroy shirt untucked. A pair of booties complements this look nicely.
It's time to part ways with the misconceptions that you may have about flannel. Yes, it's decidedly casual and generally worn on game days and errand runs. Yet, you don't have to relegate it solely to those off-duty occasions. When styled right, a flannel shirt can look phenomenal with something as unexpected as a women's skirt. Your goal here is to create balance, so a pencil skirt is a great choice–and all the better if it's something with a spicy detail, like a slight slit up the side or made out of leather material. Even a sleek black or denim pencil skirt makes a wonderful partner for flannel. Just make sure you tuck in the shirt and wear an elevated shoe, like a low-profile pump, to lend your look a powerful finishing touch.
Another easy way to maximize your flannel top's potential is to treat it like a jacket. Slipping it on over a turtleneck will easily keep you toasty on frigid days. To toughen up this ensemble, button up the shirt most of the way and leave the top few undone. Then, tuck them into a pair of wide-leg pants, step into Audrey-inspired ballet flats (or thick-soled sneakers if you're feeling sporty), grab a sleek handbag, and you'll be prepared for anything that the day brings–even unexpected gusts of wind that would otherwise threaten your style.
Has there been a wardrobe staple more consistently dependable than flannel? It's definitely a closet MVP, and its versatility alone makes it a worthy investment. Few pieces work overtime with as much success!