what is flannel

Whether you’re rocking out in a grunge band or looking for something to wear on your next date night, one thing’s for sure: flannel has never gone out of style.

But why are flannels so popular? Over the years, flannels have become the MVP of men’s clothing — and why not? They’re soft, thick, durable, and comfortable. Can you name another piece of clothing that has all of these qualities and can be tossed in the washer with total ease? (We’ll wait.)

In this blog, we’ll discuss the basics of flannel shirt material, where they came from, and how you can style this popular garment for all your needs. Keep reading for more! 

What is Flannel?

What are flannels made of that makes them so wonderfully soft? Flannels are cherished for their exceptional softness due to the materials they're crafted from. Typically, these cozy garments are made from natural fibers like cotton or wool, which are renowned for their plush and comforting qualities. Cotton flannels are prized for their breathability and gentle touch against the skin, while wool flannels provide luxurious warmth and an irresistibly soft texture. 

The secret to their softness lies in the weaving process, where the fibers are expertly brushed or napped to create a surface of tiny, raised fibers. This technique not only enhances their softness but also traps warmth, making flannels the ideal choice for those chilly winter days when comfort is paramount. 

So, whether it's a classic cotton flannel or a woolen wonder, the combination of premium materials and meticulous craftsmanship is what gives flannels their wonderfully soft and inviting feel.

why are flannels so popular

The History of Flannel

Flannel’s backstory is pretty cool — no chilly pun intended! Hailing from Wales, where the weather can be more than a little cold and damp, flannel was crafted from the materials close at hand. Thanks to the abundance of fluffy Welsh sheep, the locals had plenty of carded wool to spin into garments designed to battle the cold.

Born from the need to stay dry and warm in the rugged conditions of the Welsh countryside, this humble fabric was eventually adopted throughout Europe, delivering comfort and functionality along the way.

So, when was flannel popular in the US? By the time flannel made its debut in the States, it was the 19th century and an exciting time of bustling industry. During the Industrial Revolution, flannel became the talk of the town not just for its coziness but also for its affordability and durability.

Imagine a never-before-seen fabric so versatile it could cuddle you in bed as a blanket, accompany you to work as a shirt, and even sneak into your drawer as undergarments — all while being durable and easy to clean. It’s no wonder flannel became so popular! 

From its functional roots, flannel also found its way into cultural movements. It became an emblem of rebellion in the 1990s grunge scene, where it was paired with ripped jeans and worn by iconic bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains and their fans alike. This era celebrated flannel as a symbol of non-conformity, further embedding it in the tapestry of fashion history. 

So, if you’re wondering, “When were flannels popular?” the answer is actually pretty simple: since the first chilly shepherds found respite in its comfort! From its humble beginnings on Welsh farms to its iconic status at rock concerts, flannel's journey is a testament to both its appeal and adaptability.

Why Are Flannels So Popular?

So why do we all dig flannels so much? Let’s find out what makes flannels a go-to closet staple for people around the world.


One big reason why flannels are a closet must-have? Their durability. This robust, woven fabric can withstand significant wear and tear (remember its origins: the winds and cold of Wales). This makes it a great choice for workwear, casual wear, and bundling up for a long day out in the cold without the fear of tears, holes, or stretching.

And for those who have physically demanding jobs, all the better. Flannel shirt material is even more valuable for them, providing all-day comfort with a durable build and being simple to wash and dry. No high-maintenance care needed! 


Flannel is especially known for its warmth, but what is flannel material’s secret? Remember that weaving process we mentioned earlier? The napping of the fabric creates tiny pockets that trap air and keep you warm. Don’t worry – this warmth doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, as flannel isn’t just insulating. It’s also incredibly breathable, so you don’t feel overheated when wearing it. In other words, you get all the toasty benefits without feeling weighed down. 

We can’t talk about warmth without talking about layering flannels. Flannels' natural insulation properties make them excellent candidates for creating cozy, cold-weather ensembles. By wearing multiple flannel shirts or incorporating them as mid-layers, you can trap heat effectively, ensuring that you stay snug and toasty even in the chilliest of conditions. 


There’s something timeless about flannel shirts. They seem to be able to fit in anywhere and never go out of style. Their classic plaid or tartan patterns have become a staple in men's fashion, effortlessly crossing boundaries from casual to upscale, from sports arenas to rock concerts.

Flannel's versatility knows no bounds. There are so many different flannel uses, from cozy pajamas to subculture attire or simple, rugged looks that ooze style without even trying. Flannels can also be mixed and matched with different patterns and colors to create unique and stylish layered outfits.  


Looking for something polished? Pair a flannel shirt with khakis. Prefer to keep it casual? Throw it on with some baggy jeans. There are so many types of flannels and unique ways to wear them.

They're the perfect piece to adapt to changing climates or switch up your style on the fly. Layer them over a t-shirt for a relaxed look, under a sweater for extra warmth, or even with a pair of slacks for a dash of rugged sophistication. These quintessential garments effortlessly transition from cozy loungewear to stylish fashion statements in a snap. 

types of flannels

How to Wear Different Types of Flannels

So, we've raved enough about flannel now, right? Let's get down to the nitty-gritty with some killer styling tips for different types of flannel pieces:

Flannel Shirts

Flannel shirts for men are the ultimate classics and can be styled in so many different ways while achieving a rugged and timeless appeal every time. Start by pairing your flannel shirt with classic denim jeans or cargo pants for a rugged, masculine look. Tucking the shirt in or leaving it untucked both work, depending on the occasion. 

Experiment with different color combinations and patterns to find the one that suits your personal style best. During colder months, layer your flannel shirt over a plain thermal shirt for extra warmth and style. There’s a reason why flannels are so popular — you can wear them a hundred different ways!

Flannel Jackets

Flannel jackets are all about adding that layer of warmth and style to any outfit. Wear them over a simple t-shirt and jeans for a casual, rugged look, or for a more put-together outfit, layer your flannel jacket over a button-up shirt and pair it with dark denim or casual trousers. Plus, flannel jackets can be a great addition to outdoor or workwear with both function and style. Men can effortlessly rock flannel jackets for a practical and stylish ensemble. Complete the look with rugged leather boots or sneakers, and consider accessorizing with a beanie or a classic baseball cap for that added flair.

Flannel Hoodies

Combine the comfort of a hoodie with the warmth of flannel, and what do you get? Your perfect casual outer layer: flannel hoodies. Flannel hoodies work great with athletic or streetwear styles. Pair a flannel hoodie with joggers for a relaxed, sporty look, or with jeans and sneakers to look effortlessly chic. 

Layering is key here, so throw on a plain tee or a long-sleeve shirt underneath for added warmth. Finish the look with high-top sneakers for that effortlessly cool vibe. To elevate your style, consider accessorizing with a snapback cap or a statement watch.

Stay Stylish with Flannels From UNIONBAY

If you're looking to stay stylish and comfortable, there's no better choice than flannels from UNIONBAY. With their timeless appeal, versatility, and exceptional quality, these flannels have proven to be wardrobe essentials for both men and women. 

Whether you're rocking a classic flannel shirt, a rugged flannel jacket, or a laid-back flannel hoodie, you can effortlessly elevate your style. The wide range of colors, patterns, and designs available from UNIONBAY ensures that you can always find the perfect flannel to suit your unique taste and preference.

Stay stylish and comfortable with UNIONBAY flannels, your go-to choice for any season and occasion. Start shopping today!

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