girl wearing plaid flannel shirt

The Difference Between Flannel and Plaid

Heber HatchetsHeber's Man Blog

Is there a difference between flannel and plaid?

Indeed there is! Kinda…

After years and years of people mistakenly using one term when they mean the other, the two terms have sorta come to mean the same thing to a lot of folks. Lots of clothing companies sell the exact same types of products with some calling it “plaid” and others calling it “flannel”.

If you’ve been following me in any kind of way, you know I talk about flannel quite a lot. I mix up my colors from time to time, but my favorite is that beautiful unadulterated black and red checkered pattern that keeps me so nice and warm, inside and out. But as much as I love my flannel, I do have to admit- I myself have misused the word flannel before- if we’re being technical!

The distinction between flannel and plaid ain’t so much a difference in style. It’s actually kinda like comparing apples and oranges.

Flannel is a material, not a pattern

Yup! There is no color scheme or pattern that is “flannel”. The term flannel actually refers to the weave of the clothing– the fabric. Flannel is a thicker fabric than others, usually made up of a cotton-wool weave. It’s also woven more loosely than most other fabrics. If flannel is brushed, it will get that fuzzy texture.

But a flannel garment could be any color scheme. It could even be a single color throughout. But when someone mentions “flannel”, you probably have a certain style that comes to mind, right?

Plaid is a pattern

Flannel clothing, historically, has often been designed with plaid patterns. That classic red and black shirt- the one I’m most often seen wearing around- is a plaid flannel shirt. Plaid can be any variety of colors, but red and black is a common one among us lumberjacks. Can you blame us?!

Over time, with so many flannel shirts being made with plaid patterns, the two terms sort of became synonymous. Now, “flannel” is usually all you need to say for people to know what kind of style yer referring to.

So hopefully that clears things up for ya! I myself will probably keep sayin’ just flannel, out of force of habit. But let it be noted that Heber The Hatchet Man ain’t ignorant- he’s just stubborn!

And remember- EVERY day is flannel season!

-Heber, The Hatchet Man