A Brief History – How long have flannel shirts been about?

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A Brief History – How long have flannel shirts been about?

Before we can answer this question, we must understand the difference between flannel and plaid. The two are often confused.

Plaid is the pattern - the classic cross-hatched look we all know and love.

Flannel is the type of fabric – the way it’s made, called ‘napping’, is loosely woven fabrics that gives the shirts their fuzzy warm look and feel.

What is the difference between a flannel shirt and a plaid shirt? Answer: They’re the same! Technically you could have a flannel shirt that is plain without the plaid pattern, but they are not common and today we almost exclusively see flannel shirts in a cross-hatched pattern.

Flannel fabrics first came about in the 17th century where Welsh farmer’s wives wove wool loosely and found that method of manufacture helped naturally trap air as insulation and gave flannel it’s warm quality.

BUT when did the plaid pattern come in?

The famous crotch-hatched pattern outdates flannel fabric, with tartan pattern cloths being found on mummified remains as far back as the Iron Age! Not to mention the Scots who famously had tartan patterns associated with their family – with high society and Royalty having their own unique pattern that only they would wear.

Flannel shirts how we have come to know them today became popular in America and Canada in the 1800’s when, just like the Welsh farmers who needed a warm natural fabric, working outdoorsmen wore flannel shirts whilst laying the foundations for modern day America. Hence the term, the lumberjack shirt, where this clothing item became associated with honest hard work and practical use.

Flannel shirts have since become a symbol of rugged outdoors integrity and a culture icon, often a popular choice of celebrities when they are on their Starbucks run trying to avoid being papp’d!

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