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How a flannel shirt should fit

How a flannel shirt should fit

The flannel shirt is about as fuss-free as clothing gets. It’s got the whole throw-on-and-go factor threaded into its DNA. After all, the shirt dates back to 17th-century Wales, where it was favoured by farmworkers for being a hardwearing and practical workwear essential – one they could toss on and brace the elements in. So you’re exempt from having to worry about the length or the shape, right? Uh-uh. 

Despite its humble beginnings, the flannel shirt has evolved beyond its practical roots to become a stylish addition to any guy’s wardrobe. In warmer months it’s a light, easy top layer to throw on when heavier outerwear isn’t needed, and in colder weather it’s the perfect mid-layer between a t-shirt and a jacket or jumper. 

Yes, it can even smarten up a plain tee and jeans, tone down formal trousers and shoes, and bring colour and pattern to drab looks. So let’s show this versatile piece some respect by nailing the fit, shall we?


A flannel shirt should follow the shape of your body without being too tight-fitting. If you want to wear it as an overshirt, it should be slightly oversized to allow for layering. If you want to wear it under jackets or knitwear, it should be slim enough that it can be worn buttoned up without being too wide on the sides.


The body of your shirt should fall below your hips, just past the waistband of your trousers. If you want to wear it as an overshirt that won’t be tucked in, then a boxy, square-hemmed fit which falls a little shorter will look great with jeans or other casual trousers.


The seam of your sleeves should be in line with your shoulder or slightly over, and the length should fall to your wrist. There should be room for movement in the arm, and it should be loose enough that you can fit it over thicker layers, or roll the sleeve up to your elbow for a more relaxed look, without feeling restricted.


The collar should rest on the back of your neck, but fall looser at the front than a smart Oxford shirt would. You probably won’t be wearing your flannel shirt with the top button done up, but if you do it should feel comfortably loose rather than tight to your throat. The buttons should fasten easily without pulling across your stomach.

Words: Ella White
Photography: Angus Williams
Styling: Freddie Kemp