Everyone loves flannel. But, not everyone knows its rich history. Men’s flannel shirts stand alone as the most universally recognized symbol of Americana -- and specifically, of the American outdoorsman.
COMPLETE FLANNEL SHIRT COLLECTION
We’ve got plenty of colors and three types of men’s flannel shirts: the Fairbanks, the Waxhaw, and the Gunnison.
The Fairbanks: Vintage-Style Men’s Flannel Shirts
We pre-wash these with an enzyme wash, giving them the broken-in feel of your favorite go-to shirt. The 100% cotton midweight flannel is just right for those cool fall mornings and will last through the changing seasons.
The Waxhaw: Buffalo Plaid Flannel Shirts
Crafted from a soft brushed cotton, this midweight flannel honors the heritage of the classic buffalo plaid with a modern twist in color. When you want both style and comfort, this versatile men's flannel shirt stands ready to join you on any adventure.
The Gunnison: Wool-Blend Men’s Flannel Shirts
This will be your well-worn basecamp layer all season long. The streamlined fit of our wool-blend solid flannel ensures all-day comfort, and unique details like engraved wooden buttons stand out in all the right ways.
THE HISTORY OF FLANNEL
Although flannel shirts exude Americana, flannel didn’t start here. The history of flannel actually begins in 17th century Wales! No one is sure who named it (the Germans called it flannel; the French called it flanelle), but flannel offered superior protection against Wales’ unforgiving winters, and the country’s large sheep population provided ample wool for the soft, woven material. The fabric was napped on one or both sides by rubbing the fabric with a fine metal brush to raise the fibers from the loosely spun yarn; this process formed the trademark nap and softness loved and recognized in flannel.
Flannel was affordable, warm, and durable, so its popularity quickly spread across Europe and wool factories popped up all over England and France. The Industrial Revolution and an increase in carding mills (where wool is prepared for spinning) made production more efficient, and it was off to the races for flannel.
In its earliest days in the United States, flannel was used during the Civil War as an inexpensive, sturdy material for soldiers’ basic coats and undershirts. Although it was easily accepted as a working man’s fabric, the credit for its surge in popularity goes to Hamilton Carhartt. Carhartt founded his namesake company in 1889 with the mission to improve the working man’s uniform in the United States, and he produced durable flannel garments for workers, cementing its status as the working man’s shirt by the 1900s.
World War I saw flannel re-emerge in military uniforms, undershirts, belts, and bandages, making it familiar and commonplace. With the Great Depression breaking class barriers, flannel shirts were adopted widely. The 1950s celebrated working-class men, with folklore and popular culture glorifying flannel-clad heroes embodying manly pride and independence. Meanwhile, gray flannel suits signified a rising businessman, as featured in novels and films of the 1950s and 60s.
The 1990s grunge movement revived flannel as a symbol of non-conformity with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam embracing it. Today, flannel represents easy style, warmth, and comfort, transcending class, occupation, and occasion. Like the rugged men who’ve always worn them, the history of men’s flannel shirts boasts an impressive journey of changing with the times while holding to its roots.
6 TIPS FOR WASHING MEN’S FLANNEL SHIRTS
It doesn’t get much better than a soft men’s flannel shirt. Here are 5 tips for keeping your flannels looking good and feeling great.
1. Check the material label.
If your shirt is a wool blend (like our Gunnison wool-blend flannel shirts), then skip the following tips because you’ll want to dry clean that shirt. Otherwise, proceed!
2. Set the right water temp.
Be sure to choose cool or warm water – not hot. Hot water speeds fading and compromises the fabric softness.
3. Use the gentle cycle.
After selecting cool or warm water, opt for the gentle cycle on your washing machine. The agitation created during a regular or heavy-duty wash cycle stresses the shirt fibers and can cause pilling. (So you’ll also want to wash your flannel inside-out.)
4. Choose a mild detergent.
Avoid harsh detergents and any that contain bleach additives or bleach alternatives. (You can use the same amount you would normally use, just be sure it’s a mild detergent.) This helps prevent fading.
5. Use fabric softener with caution.
Fabric softener will help reduce the lint shed from your flannel shirt, but be mindful of what you use. Standard liquid fabric softeners actually end up making your flannel shirts less soft, not more. Why? Because, while liquid softener makes the fabric feel softer at first, over time it clogs the fibers and causes the fabric to stiffen. Instead, use a cup of white vinegar (depending on the load size) as a natural fabric softener.
6. Air dry (or dry on low heat).
It is best to let your flannel shirts air dry. If you need to use the dryer, be sure to use the lowest heat setting, and remove the shirts as soon as they are dry. Do not overdry flannel, and do not dry it on medium or high heat. Too much heat weakens and shrinks the fabric.
Bonus tip: remember that not all flannels are created equal. If you want a men’s flannel shirt that will continue to look and feel good over time, you’ll want to choose a great quality shirt from the start. We happen to have a few. Check out our collection, and we bet you’ll find a favorite.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are flannel and plaid the same?
Nope. Flannel and plaid are not 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).
Can I wear my flannel shirt in seasons other than fall and winter?
Absolutely! While flannels are known for their warmth, the breathable material makes them suitable for cool spring evenings and summer nights around the campfire as well.
How should men’s flannel shirts fit?
A good flannel should offer a comfortable fit that's not too tight or too loose. It should provide enough room for movement without being baggy, ensuring a flattering, rugged appearance.
How do I prevent my flannel shirt from pilling?
Pilling often occurs due to friction during wear and washing. To prevent this, wash your flannel shirts inside out on a gentle cycle, and avoid washing them with heavy items that can cause friction.
Can I iron my flannel shirt?
While it’s safe to iron flannel, use a low to medium setting to prevent damaging the fibers. And always iron inside out to protect the outer appearance.
How do I pair flannels with other clothes?
Flannels are versatile! Pair them with jeans or chinos, layer over t-shirts or under jackets, and complement with sturdy boots or casual shoes for an easy outfit.
What is the lifespan of a Buffalo Jackson flannel shirt?
With proper care, our flannels can last for many years, providing enduring style and comfort. Their longevity is enhanced by quality craftsmanship and durable materials, celebrating a life well-lived.
Do Buffalo Jackson flannels run true to size?
Our flannels are designed for a true fit. Consult our sizing chart for accurate measurements to ensure the perfect fit that accommodates your style and comfort preferences.
Remember, each men’s flannel shirt from Buffalo Jackson tells a story — not just of its own history, but of the adventures you'll have while wearing it. Care for it well, and it’ll be a reliable, stylish companion for years to come.