hero_FlannelSuit 12-7-2011

Get your flannel on.

The perfect cold-weather fabric.

In sports, there are “go-to” guys who give you exactly what you need at exactly the right moment. Vinnie Johnson was called “The Microwave” because he’d heat up and score as soon as he entered a basketball game. And just like Mr. Johnson, when the temperature drops, flannel should be your “go-to” fabric. It excels at keeping you warm and, unlike other wool fabrics, it’s soft enough to ensure you’re always comfortable. Even while cheering at an NBA game (you did hear we’re going to have a season after all, right?).

Why it wears so well.

The word “flannel” comes from a strange-looking Welsh word, “gwlanen,” which means “wool.” The warmth of the cloth depends on the napped surface, where air pockets are trapped between interlocking fibers. It’s the nap that makes flannel so user friendly. So, the more nap you have the happier you are. Which is rather obvious, really.

What you need.

We’re only talking suits and trousers here. The checked flannel shirt, good for everything from sitting in front of the fire at the fishing lodge to stage diving at a metal show, is something everyone is familiar with.

For cold weather suits, there is no better fabric than a light flannel. Single- or double-breasted, and even with a vest. We recommend a two- or three-button single-breasted suit if you’re only going to own one. For colors, lighter greys are less stuffy, while darker greys are more formal. Navy is also a good choice. For more attitude, go with a pinstriped flannel.

Grey flannel pants should also be a staple in your winter wardrobe because of their incredible versatility. Wear them to work with a dress shirt, V-neck sweater and tie. Then, on the weekend, pair them with a cable-knit sweater and chukka boots and you’re ready to spend the day at the regatta. And while gray has always been associated with flannel, you can find other colors as well, including navy, brown and beige.

What you want to avoid.

The title of the novel “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” wasn’t chosen at random. Dealing with issues of conformity in the workplace during the 1950s, the standard uniform of the American worker was grey flannel. Without adding a striking shirt and tie combination, you do run the danger of being swallowed in a sea of grey. So, if you opt for a grey suit, be sure to add a bold touch. And don’t shy away from a pocket square, either.

Treat it right.

To keep your flannel performing its best, you need to know a couple things. Steaming or hanging it in the bathroom while you shower will help it regain its shape after being worn repeatedly. When hanging the pants, never slot them through the bar on your suit hanger or you may end up with a permanent crease across them. And, if you spill something on your suit, always blot, never rub. You risk having a weird, fuzzy-looking spot on your suit.

What it all means.

Once you wear a flannel suit or trousers and discover how incredibly warm and comfortable they are, you’ll begin to wish winter would never end. And that’s the magic of “go-to” things like The Microwave and flannel suits. They excel under the right circumstances. And they’re indispensable to your team or wardrobe.

TAGS: cold weather | fabric | Flannel | Pants | Suits | trousers | Wool

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  • avatar
    JohnMcCurdy
    From the time I was about 12, each Christmas one gift to both my brother and I would be a new pair of grey flannels from J. From the time I was about 12, Each Xmas my brother and I would get a new pair of Grey flannels and either new Florshiem cordovans or beef-roll loafers from J. Ed Deavers Clothing Store in Lexington, Va. It was as regular as clockwork. Mothers been dead now over 30 years and Deavers is long gone and the shoes are getting a little shabby and run down!
    35 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    NickFox
    Brooks Brothers currently offers just one ready-to-wear flannel suit. It is a Milano cut. It makes no sense to profile flannel suits on the blog when they are not sold at Brooks Brothers.
    35 months ago | Report abuse |
    • avatar
      The Editors
      Fortunately, flannel isn't limited to just suits. There's a dandy tie we love. Take a look.
      35 months ago | Report abuse |
    • avatar
      Christian Young
      What I've always like about OR&G is that they don't link all their articles back to Brooks Brothers clothing. Even though I like wearing BB if I can find a garment from somewhere else that fits better or is easier on the wallet or whatever I will buy that. The OR&G editors recognize that I think and want their blog to be focused solely on style and not just peddle the BB stuff.
      35 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    KeithMcKee
    Flannel is wonderful. I have a doublebreasted gray flannel suit and a British check one. I also enjoy flannel trousers. Thank you for the article about the care of flannel. It is different than gaberdine or another blend. Flannel is a classic look. Most men, however, forget to add it to their wardrobes. They shiver more in winter.
    35 months ago | Report abuse |