How To Wear A Flannel Shirt: Modern & Stylish Outfits For Men

There are precious few garments beloved by both stylish urbanites and Alaskan lumberjacks alike but the flannel shirt is one of them. Warming, rugged, hard-wearing and timeless, it’s a must-have for winter layering and traversing transitional weather in style.

But how should it be worn? Thankfully, the flannel shirt’s classic styling makes it highly versatile, enabling it to blend into a wide range of looks with ease. Still, having a few tips and tricks up the sleeve of yours can help make sure you get it right every time.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a few failsafe looks as well as some tried-and-tested tips for working this functional fabric into your day-to-day wardrobe.

Tips For Wearing Flannel Shirts

Embrace Texture

Selected Homme

Once you have your degree in the fundamentals of good dressing, using texture to your advantage is lesson number one of the masters course.

A flannel shirt is a perfect place to start. It provides an accessible way to experiment with texture and pattern for less daring dressers, and a restrained way for those who prefer to keep their style understated.

To get the full effect, team a flannel shirt up with other tactile garments. Think cord pants, maybe a wool overshirt and suede footwear. Use these textures in harmony to create depth and watch simple outfits level up before your eyes.

Keep It Classic

Taylor Stitch

The flannel shirt is a classic garment, so it makes sense to style it as such. For sure-fire success every time, stick to time-honoured casual staples like raw denim jeans, leather or suede boots, classic outerwear and simple knitwear.

That’s not to say you can’t experiment with tailoring or sportswear to an extent. A plain flannel with a tailored jacket can look great, as can smart joggers and a pair of leather sneakers. However, if you want to take guesswork out of the equation and have ready-made outfits that you know look great, stick to this foolproof formula for best results.

Open Up


The flannel shirt’s biggest selling point is its versatility. A large chunk of this comes from the fact that it can be worn as both a mid-layer and top layer. This means that a flannel shirt is an option for every season.

For spring and summer, wear a flannel shirt open over a plain T-shirt. During autumn and winter, try switching your tee for a thin-gauge roll neck. Avoid big logos or prints if the shirt has a check pattern as you don’t want anything else fighting for attention. Cuff/roll the sleeves too, just to make it extra breezy.

Learn To Layer

Buck Mason

What is a flannel shirt if not the perfect layering piece? We’ve already talked about how it can be worn as a light overshirt in the warmer months, but this also makes it ideally suited to wrapping up when the mercury drops.

The right flannel can bring some additional depth and texture with layered autumn and winter looks. Try wearing one over a T-shirt and then throwing some chunky knitwear, a gilet and a parka on top for ultimate cold-weather protection.

4 Ways To Wear A Flannel Shirt

Every Day Hero

When the weekend rolls around, it’s good to have outfits you can fall back on without having to think too much. It takes the hassle out of getting ready on your days off, which frees up more of that precious downtime. This is one such outfit.

A checked flannel shirt is right at home with casual legwear like jeans and chinos, or textured wool pants for a slightly smarter take. Footwear-wise, look to classic, casual boots – styles like Chelseas, Derbies and chukkas in suede or leather – and make sure the colour of the uppers either complements or creates a pleasant contrast with the other pieces.

Put It To Work

At its core, the flannel shirt is a workwear staple. Why not embrace its roots and wear it the way it was always supposed to be worn?

Classic flannel shirts are thick, weighty and built to take a beating. Shop for something along those lines for maximum authenticity. You could even look for one with a traditional, quilted lining, or buy from a heritage workwear brand like Filson or Carhartt.

Team it up with other workwear staples but exercise some restraint. Remember, this is supposed to be a workwear-inspired look, not full-blown lumberjack cosplay. Legwear along the lines of raw denim jeans or heavyweight twill chinos will work well.

Outerwear-wise, opt for something like a chore coat or parka. Think robust, functional and classic and you won’t go far wrong.

Smarten Up

“Flannel shirt” and “smart” seems like an oxymoron. But dressing your flannel shirt up is an advanced-level move that looks superb when you get it right. The key lies in using textured tailoring and sticking to autumn/winter pieces. Think dark, earthy or autumnal colours and tactile fabrics like wool, corduroy and tweed.

Use these materials to build depth and think of the flannel as another tool for bringing the outfit to life. Varied textures can make a basic look feel three-dimensional, turning a simple combination of shirt and pants into something noteworthy. Use that to your advantage and it’s possible to elevate a flannel shirt beyond its casual roots.

Jacket Replacement

Flannel shirts are often pigeonholed as autumn/winter garments. However, if you use one as a light jacket instead of a mid-layer, its functionality doubles. Shop for a flannel shirt with a slightly thicker construction and wear it open as you would an overshirt. This way you can appreciate the benefits of flannel even in the warmer months.

Throw it on over low-profile layers like T-shirts, roll necks and fine-gauge knitwear, depending on the weather, and stick to either casual or smart-casual pieces. For bonus points, keep the outfit subdued and simple. This way, a subtly checked flannel shirt can serve as a stripped-back centre point.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.