What Is Flannel Fabric?

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Flannel shirts hanging in clothing store.
Flannel shirts hanging in clothing store. (Image: yanyong/iStock/Getty Images)

Flannel fabric is many things -- soft and supple to the touch, wonderfully warm and typically quite affordable. This time-tested and versatile fabric, usually a woven cotton or wool, lends itself to an immense range of wardrobe items for men and women alike.

The Basics

Traditionally, flannel refers to a fabric made from loosely woven wool or cotton, with a slight or heavy nap. Nowadays, flannel may also include a touch of synthetic fibers. Brushed flannel fabrics have a softer texture, while unbrushed flannel is a bit firmer to the touch.

A Masculine Material

Perhaps no flannel wardrobe item for men is as ubiquitous as the button-up flannel shirt -- a time-tested, cool-weather staple. While it comes in solid shades, the flannel shirt most often sports plaid patterns, such as tartan, check or gingham. Flannel also commonly lends itself to heavy, rugged winter-wear suits and CPO jackets, a shirt-jacket hybrid with a thick lining.

Feminine Flannel

While ladies can also sport a classic flannel button-up, you'll also find fuzzy flannel scarves in the winter season. Like men's suits, structured women's blazers and pants also come in this fabric, as do sleek pea coats. Some shirt dresses also feature plaid textured flannel, offering a casual and carefree look well-suited for autumn.

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