FashionFilter: Are plaid flannels wayyy out of style?
March 15, 2007 4:50 PM   Subscribe

When I was in my early twenties, everyone wore plaid flannel shirts. It was a staple. Are those out, as in 'you'll look funny if you wear one' out? What is "in" when it comes to twenty and thirty somethings? I'm talking out to a casual bar with friends on a Saturday night?
posted by Gerard Sorme to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (49 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mr_roboto at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2007

Jeans, a nice top, and some nice shoes?

Gender? Urban/rural? Country?
posted by k8t at 5:01 PM on March 15, 2007

What about a V-neck sweater with a dress shirt underneath? (pic) Keep the collar open, and loosely fold up the ends of the sleeves over the sweater to keep it casual.

Really depends on the type of bar, though.
posted by scarlet at 5:04 PM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: Straight male, live 2 places actually every two weeks or so (long story) - San Luis Obispo and St. Louis. I'm talking a TGI Friday's, indy neighborhood pub, no dance clubs or anything like that.

posted by Gerard Sorme at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2007

Yes, plaid flannels went out when Soundgarden broke up, Kurt Cobain committed suicide, Alice in Chains broke up, etc. Where I live, in Austin, you can get away with shorts, sandals and t-shirt just about anywhere.

In Dallas, I would wear slacks, or nice jeans. A collared shirt, whether polo style, or a printed oxford type shirt is fine. Nice jeans are probably a little tight, low waisted, maybe straight legged or possibly a bit of bell-bottom, and roughed up fronts. You could easily get away with standard 501's, though. Depends on how fashion-y you want to be.
posted by stovenator at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2007

It was a staple. Are those out, as in 'you'll look funny if you wear one' out? What is "in" when it comes to twenty and thirty somethings?

Yes, they are "out". Rule of thumb: go to a high-end department store (Nordstroms) or specialty apparal store (Express for Men), and survey what kind of "going out" clothes are for sale. That is what is "in". I can almost guarantee you will not find any plaid shirts. I suggest wearing a plain or stripped button down shirt, untucked with jeans or tucked in nice slacks and a belt, depending on how nice the place you're going to is.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by asparagus_berlin at 5:14 PM on March 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Come on, people. Flannel is most certainly not "out." Provided that you are a farmer, woodsman or lumberjack.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:16 PM on March 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

Related question about grunge fashion discussed earlier.
posted by about_time at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2007

lynnster: You missed one category. What we here in Texas call a "rig rat" -- someone who works on a drilling rig in the petrolium extraction industry. Even in high summer in West Texas, 115 degrees I shit you not, you'll find rig rats wearin' flannel shirts, with the front unbuttoned to the belt and the sleeves rolled up. Now THAT's style. Just likey not what Gerard is looking for.

Gerard -- seriously: polo shirt and jeans, or a fitted buttondown shirt with the top two or three buttons untucked and a color stretch undershirt underneath. Screw Nordies, go to your nearest Gap and you'll find what you need.
posted by SpecialK at 5:29 PM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: The buttondown shirts mentioned, are we talking solids? Patterns? I've also noticed nobody tucks their shirts in anymore.'s time to empty my closets and go to the store. Sounds like it's time to spend some bucks at the Gap.

posted by Gerard Sorme at 5:38 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: It depends on what kind of bar you're going to, but in general I think the casual blazer-jeans-print tee combo is a safe one. It's pretty easy to pull off, and you look cleaned up without trying too hard. Examples here and here (on the left). I will caution that this won't really work with early-90s-cut jeans (light wash, really tapered leg) or a dressy blazer -- so you might want to hit the mall if it's been awhile since you bought either of those.

Also, Express Men (as TPS suggested) has a couple other ideas on their site.

Have fun this weekend!
posted by AV at 5:43 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Plaid button-down shirts are okay—just not the flannel part.

Not flannel, not buttoned all the way to the top, and never tucked in. Otherwise, you can go with solids, stripes, or light plaids. They're all fair game.
posted by limeonaire at 6:09 PM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: Some great tips in this thread - thank you!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:13 PM on March 15, 2007

Flannel will date you, unless you can pull off the "I don't fucking care what you think of this" look. Dress shirt and a V-neck sweater is pretty in. I'm also fond of Western-style long-sleeve shirts myself, but then again, I'm not you. You might as well just pick up a little something at the Gap.

Ultimately, if you dress reasonably and carry yourself with confidence, I think you'll be OK.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:15 PM on March 15, 2007

You guys obviously do not live in New York City, where flannel and beards are most definitely in.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:17 PM on March 15, 2007

Swing by Freemans if you don't believe me.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:20 PM on March 15, 2007

Please, I was speaking directly for New York City.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:20 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Instead of replacing your wardrobe, you could just move to Maine or the Northwest Territories...

...or become a lesbian...
posted by watsondog at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

here in the UK, lumberjack (never heard of plaid until I just googled it!) shirts are back into fashion big time. Just as long as they're not baggy, thick striped, or flannel

Basically, you can't go wrong with a plaid, cotton, well fitting shirt with a white t-shirt underneath, some boot cut gap jeans (not baggy), and some pf sneakers.
posted by derbs at 6:24 PM on March 15, 2007

As you can see, this varies. Where I live -- rural Vermont -- people wear these sorts of things in a very unironic way; they wear them because they are warm and because they haven't worn out yet. If you go from my town to a bigger town or city, people will look at you as if 1) you are coming from a rural town (see: hick, rube, redneck, gomer, etc) or 2) you are a hipster from the Big City with a beard and those glasses all of you seem to wear.

Which impression you make has a lot to do with how you accesorize, who you are hanging out with and how you carry yourself. I like flannel shirts personally, but I am probably not your target audience so I'd listen to other people as far as that goes, and also think about whether your goal is fitting in or making some sort of fashion statement. Most places you will go, that sort of shirt will make a statement, whether it is one you want to make or not is worth considering.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 PM on March 15, 2007

Maybe you could add to it - wear a black t-shirt under it, cut the sleeves off. Stylish!

I think it can depend on the flannel. An expensive plaid flannel could be stylish, but the general rule during the grunge period was that it had to be the cheapest flannel you could get. The printed kind, that was white on the inside and plaid on the outside was considered good.
posted by tomble at 6:34 PM on March 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've seen a lot of long or short sleeve button down shirts with stripes lately.

The coolkid's strips are at a jaunty angle, e.g. //////////
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2007

Something like this would be ideal, with epaulettes on the shoulder for extra bonus points!
posted by derbs at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2007

I wear button-down shirts, flannel and non, plaid and non, pretty much all the time. I won't pretend I'm a fashion maven or anything, but I don't get laughed at.
Nice button-down shirt in a one or two-tone plaid, sleeves rolled to the elbow, solid matching/complementing color t-shirt underneath, nothing tucked in. Dark khakis, cargo pants, jeans. Sensible shoes. Works for me.
Ultimately, wear what you feel comfortable in. Changing your entire wardrobe and style just to make people like you is the kind of mentality that will make people not like you.
posted by nightchrome at 6:57 PM on March 15, 2007

Wear whatever you want! If you like what you're wearing and are confident, other people will just be glad to be around you.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:09 PM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: nightchrome: Sometimes I need to change my wardrobe. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make sure that your clothes fit in with what is "in style." If you're not into that, you probably won't be at the bars I will be going to anyway. The "do what you want," answers are fine, but I have a feeling most of those are from people who feel this way about a lot of things and that's not me. I respect where you're coming from, but to be true to myself, means to care about my appearance.

posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:14 PM on March 15, 2007

I think they're much less out if they're not primarily a very dark color, especially green.
posted by shanevsevil at 7:20 PM on March 15, 2007

Plaid shirts in all colors are out. Green patterned shirts (particularly that green that isn't really olive and isn't really beige) remind me of the nerdy boys who played trombone in high school. It's not really a sexy/sophisticated look. Repeat after me: Plaid bad.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:31 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite] my university plaid flannel shirts, in all colors and especially bright ones, are most definitely in. For guys and girls.
posted by puffin at 7:38 PM on March 15, 2007

I saw a number of photos from runway shows that featured tartan fabrics. The edgier hipsters have been wearing flannel around here for a while, but more in a Beat Poet sort of way, rather than a Meth Cooker way. I think if you go for dark and understated plaid and keep a slim silhouette, it can be done. However, plaid is not a slimming pattern, so go for vertical stripes if you're having a boxy sort of day.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: Yes, flannel died with the 1990s. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something, or from Maine. I agree that you can't go wrong with a collared shirt (polo or long sleeved button down) and jeans or khakis. For casual, you could do a trendy atheletic zip up sweatshirt/jacket or long-sleeved tee (think Puma or Adidas.) with jeans or corduroys. I also think the casual blazer over a t-shirt with jeans looks nice on men.

I'd recommend hitting Express Men for the trendier stuff (salespeople will help you pick out outfits, too), Gap for some staples, and Old Navy (basically the same as Gap but cheaper).

Oh, don't forget about belts and shoes! If you still have any braided belts, toss 'em. For men's dress shoes, the plainer the better (avoid anything with tassles). For more casual, you could try some of those sneakery things that are in style now- just make sure you pick a dark color, like brown or gray.
posted by emd3737 at 7:57 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Plaid shirts in ridiculous colors are in for young Midwestern people that watch MTV.

Plaid lumberjack shirts are out unless you're so fucking out you're back in, which means you probably ride a bike with one gear and you're a trustifundarian.

If you didn't understand that, just hit the mall. Express and Old Navy clothes aren't worth the money. No pleats, no braids, no tapers. If the blazer looks wrong for a suit, it's probably right for casual use.

clicky clicky .. take those for inspiration and then down a notch. Go to the Gap and ask someone for help.
posted by kcm at 8:17 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: By the way, there's three levels of awesome here: completely out of touch; average; and mindblowing. The last one is all about taking average and adding the details - a nice watch, coordinating understated accessories (belts, socks, gloves), a ridiculously expensive but perfect jacket, and of course a pair of shoes can make an outfit out of nothing.

I think if you're asking this question earnestly, you just need to ask the salespeople for what your style might fit (classic, skinny, professor, etc.) and for the clothes that go with it. Then you can go shopping every few months and try to fit another few things to your newly-found personal style. Repeat.

And a few expensive things go a lot farther than cheap crap from Old Navy.
posted by kcm at 8:24 PM on March 15, 2007

I've been wearing untucked flannel shirts whenever possible for over thirty years now. So trust me when I say that if you care what you look like, by definition flannel is wrong for you.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:56 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

A long-sleeved crewneck would be ok too.
posted by brujita at 9:09 PM on March 15, 2007

Two other points, touched on briefly above but worth bearing in mind. It's not only the fabric of the clothes of today that distinguishes them from the clothes of the 90s, it's the cut.

-Pleats in the front of pants = very dated, very square. If you're buying pants (khakis, dark slacks, whatever), they shouldn't have pleats.

- Men's shirts are cut much closer to the body now than they were in the mid-90s. To look modern, the shirts you buy should fit you with a seamline at the top of the shoulder rather than drooping way off your shoulder, for example. So even if plaid shirts are in, in some circumstances today, they're cut differently from the droopy grunge-era lumberjack shirts.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:39 AM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

What's up with the Maine hate, people? My town is full of hipsters.

Certain types of plaid are in, notably the Ecko styles.

But that might be a more 'urban' vibe than you're into.
posted by miss tea at 4:51 AM on March 16, 2007

I'm with miss tea. wtf? Twenty-somethings in Maine do not wear flannel shirts out to bars! Come on. I cannot speak for the Northwest Territories.

There are two main categories of going-out outfits for straight white young men, from my observations.

Neat jeans, khakis, or slacks, untucked button-down or polo shirt. This is the preppy/frat boy look. If you have a neat, short haircut, and especially if you use product to make your hair stand up in the front, this is what you would probably wear.

Then there's the distressed jeans, graphic t-shirt, distressed blazer, all pretty closely fit. This is the (mainstream) hipster look. If you have a shaggier haircut, and especially if you use product to make your hair messy, this is what you would probably wear.
posted by lampoil at 5:15 AM on March 16, 2007

If you are freeing yourself from the torture of plaid, please do not enter the equally repulsive dungeon of khaki, unless you are a dad.

Also, kcm is right on with this one: Plaid lumberjack shirts are out unless you're so fucking out you're back in, which means you probably ride a bike with one gear and you're a trustifundarian.

If you didn't understand that, just hit the mall.

posted by dame at 6:27 AM on March 16, 2007

I like plaid shirts. Thank God they're out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:29 AM on March 16, 2007

I think lampoil's got it perfectly.
posted by vytae at 8:23 AM on March 16, 2007

I am 2nding dame's 2nd of kcm. And yes, there are 3 vintage track bikes sitting in my apartment right now to back me up.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:24 AM on March 16, 2007

Hmmm, I'm wearing a flannel shirt right now. Of course, I guess I'm not trying to impress anyone, and don't care if it is fashionable. But as I look at the snow falling here, and think of the shoveling I will need to do when I get home, the flannel feels about right to me. And I'm in MA, not ME.
posted by genefinder at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2007

I'd go with some nice-ish jeans, a collared shirt or nice graphic tee and either clean sneakers or oxfords/loafers/etc
posted by radioamy at 11:52 AM on March 16, 2007

A lot of people commenting here forget that being square is pretty in right now. You need at least 2-3 square elements (IE bad facial hair, pleated pants, flannel shirt) to indicate you are being ironic, else you are just some guy who thinks flannel is still cool.
posted by shownomercy at 12:22 PM on March 16, 2007

I don't know who these people are who said plaid flannel was dead and then said to go buy clothes from the Gap, but the Gap actually sells plaid flannel shirts.

It really depends on your location and social scene whether or not plaid flannel is still in. College hipster: probably. Mid-30s urban professional: probably not. Go to a couple of bars/coffeshops/whatever and just spend some time people watching. You can draw inspiration from what you liked.
posted by zachk at 9:26 PM on March 16, 2007

Plaid flannel shirts are coming back in, in Australia, anyway. But they seem to be more fitted than the first time around. Go with what makes you comfortable, but bear in mind that if you're worrying about looking unstylish/TOO trendy, you probably won't be comfortable. Have fun!
posted by indienial at 2:18 AM on March 17, 2007

The flannel is the new hoodie
posted by matimer at 12:03 AM on March 20, 2007

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