Flannel: an enduring style with great variety

CODY COTTIER, Evergreen editor-in-chief

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When I bought my first flannel in the seventh grade, my classmates mockingly called me a lumberjack. I kept wearing the red and black plaid shirt. And then I bought more.

I loved the flannel look then, and I love it now. Maybe I do want to be a lumberjack. But there must be more to it, because around the time I discovered flannel, it began to crop up among my peers.

Two years after I first donned plaid, a handful of those same classmates and I started “Red Flannel Wednesdays” at our high school, and since then, the shirts have seemed always to be in style for my generation.

But at the same time they are almost an alternative to ever-changing style – an enduring trend with great variety but little change over time. As such, everyone from hipsters to rednecks has staked a claim to flannel.

I am among the simplest dressers I know. For about three-fourths of the year, I wear essentially the same outfit each day. My wardrobe is a running joke.

Enough flannel to clothe me for two weeks hangs in my closet. Each morning from fall until spring, I select one, match it with a pair of jeans and begin my day. I appreciate the summer sun as much as anyone, but when the weather slumps I can still take pleasure in returning to my clothing routine.

I almost never encounter a situation where this attire is inappropriate. Part of the reason I wear flannel is its versatility. As a journalist, my day can change in an instant. Many times, I have had to schedule last-minute interviews, and my uniform saves me from being caught underdressed.

Flannel is certainly not business attire, but it has buttons and a collar, and that is good enough for me. On the other hand, it suits social and less formal occasions just as well. I wear it to class, work, parties and pretty much everything else I do. It’s a catch-all style.

The flannel shirt’s utility extends beyond its appearance. On all but the coldest winter days, a flannel with a good jacket is the perfect layering system. Then, once you get back inside, it’s the perfect heat regulator. I roll and unroll my sleeves throughout the day as I get too warm or cold, and going fully unbuttoned can change your overall temperature in seconds.

Even if the ultimate goal is to become a lumberjack, I still need a while to work on the beard. In the meantime, the advantages of flannel justify using it to build a wardrobe.

Note: I know plaid and flannel are not synonymous, but in my closet they mostly coincide.