A flannel shirt is a flannel shirt. Right?
The statement above sounds pretty airtight. After all how could anything with "shirt" literally in its name be anything other than... a shirt?
Well, we're here to make the case that flannel a shirt is not only a shirt, but an accessory. That's right: with a little nod to style icons of the past and a bit of creative thinking, your go-to flannel shirt can be instantly transformed into your favorite new accessory. You'll discover just a few new uses for the flannel shirt as accessory as we make our case below.
It's largely thanks to certain west-coast alternative rockers and the grunge movement that grew up in the 90s that flannel shirts can be considered a fashion piece. And there was perhaps no more authentically grunge way to wear your flannel shirt than to tie it around your waist.
Today you don't have to know the track listing of your favorite grunge band front-to-back in order to tie a plaid flannel shirt around your own waist. It's become a cultural touchstone that's endured for decades and far outgrown its regional and time-specific roots.
The real appeal of tying a flannel shirt around your waist (let's face it, it's certainly not for warmth) is that it allows you to work more colors and pattern into otherwise simple outfits. For instance, consider the contemporary combination of a white t-shirt and black jeans. There's nothing wrong with this look—you may even consider it to be fashionably minimalist—but once a plaid flannel shirt in rich shades of red, cream, black and green is tied round the waist, the outfit suddenly picks up vibrant new colors and visual depth without having to be fundamentally altered.
It's one thing to wear a flannel shirt around your waist when wearing full-length jeans, but you can create an entirely different look by wearing it with a short pair of denim shorts. In this approach, the flannel shirt may even take on the appearance of a skirt (or considering its pattern, a kilt).
However, the waist isn't the only place you can consider wearing a flannel shirt as an accessory. You can subvert the classically preppy move of throwing a women's sweater over your shoulders and then tying its sleeves together by doing the exact same move with a flannel shirt instead.
The intended effect is similar to that of tying a flannel shirt around your waist, in that it is an easy way to add more color and pattern to your ensemble without having to opt for another layer of clothing altogether. However, the overall effect is different, thanks to the different origins of the looks. It's less grunge and more contemporary: the mixing of two different worlds of style may cause passerby to do a double take.
This move also borrows from another era and aesthetic. In the 80s, loosely cut jackets with padded shoulders came into vogue, and women took to draping these jackets over their shoulders rather than extending their arms into the sleeves.
While it's true that a flannel shirt doesn't have the same structure that allowed these jackets to drape like capes, you can still pull a flannel shirt over your own shoulders and let it trail behind you for a touch of laid-back cool. To maximize the effect, you may want to consider using a flannel shirt that's larger than your typical size (or borrow one from your significant other).