Few garments are more ubiquitous than flannel shirts. Soft, comfortable, and easy to maintain, these tops make their big reappearance during fall—but they're really versatile enough to wear year-round. Just as important as their inarguable comfort is their ability to elevate your look in an instant. If you're all about showing off your classiest, most polished looks throughout the season, you might wonder just what kind of role a simple flannel shirt could possibly play.
First step: Don't think of it as simple. Yes, it's a staple, but it's also highly flexible in its many styling possibilities. With some creativity and a sense of adventure, you can easily create fun ensembles that transform an otherwise basic look into something chic, classy, and completely pulled together.
The coldest months of the year are associated with dark, rich, and dramatic hues. Sure, there are occasional pops of brightness here and there, but the shades most resonant with the season are berries, aubergines, navies, and standard neutrals, like camels and browns. These are beautiful colors on their own, but if you want to shake up your ensemble, you can introduce a flannel shirt to the mix. Begin with a pair of women's black jeans, then select a flannel shirt in a color that you love. Something brilliant, like mulberry, sapphire, or plum, is a beautiful choice for cold weather. Top it off with a structured blazer and step into a pair of heels for a refined, head-turning look.
Some pieces are simply synonymous with classy wardrobes, such as the enduring midi skirt. Ignore anyone who thinks this mid-calf-length silhouette is dowdy: far from it, and you can add to the stylish effect by pairing yours with a flannel shirt. Yep, it's a little out of left field—but that's what makes it so brilliant! Bring this look to life by selecting a midi skirt in a neutral color that plays well with your plaid flannel shirt of choice. While your goal should be to create balance, don't go too wild with the contrasting shades; avoid pairing, say, a green midi skirt with a red flannel top unless you're purposely dressing up for holiday festivities. Otherwise, stick with a camel or black colored skirt. Tuck the top into the skirt, then add a few accessories to pull it all together—statement necklaces or an armful of bangles works well. Step into a pair of booties and you're ready for anything.
One of the greatest advantages of a flannel shirt is that it's the ultimate layering piece. People love it because it looks just as great on its own as it does peeking out from under a coat. For the best effect—especially if it's really cold outside—get all of your layers ready for the day. First, find a good base piece, like a light tank top or tee. Then, your flannel shirt. Finally, a selection from your warmest winter coats will ensure that you stay as toasty as possible all day long. Since there's so much happening on the top, keep it simple by slipping into a pair of basic bottoms, like tailored trousers or worn-in denim.
When it's cool but not quite frigid out there, you might not really need the heaviest coat to see you through the day. That's where a flannel shirt fits in nicely. It provides much of the warmth you might expect of, say, your favorite jacket, but offers a bit more by way of versatility and options. You can also layer it easily with other pieces—a key theme that makes it a clear favorite for any woman who appreciates dozens of different styling possibilities. If you're headed to a football game or grabbing brunch with friends on a brisk Sunday afternoon, for example, then tuck your flannel shirt into a pair of skinny jeans, top it with a cozy down vest, and step into a pair of sporty-chic canvas sneakers to ensure that you stay comfortable and just warm enough all day long.
Everyone just kind of expects that when cold weather arrives, the only sensible thing to do is to grab a sweater, step into jeans, and call it a day. But being creative calls for thinking outside the box—and flannel shirts play a big role in creating looks that are not too buttoned-up, fun, and totally appropriate for the season. If you're thinking in terms of introducing something fresh to your wardrobe this year, grab your favorite flannel shirt, layer it over one of your neutral turtlenecks, and pull on a pair of wide-leg pants. Low-profile pumps are the perfect finishing touch for this refined look, and the unexpected presence of soft plaid makes it a surprise standout.