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Flannel vs. Plaid Clothing

Not sure whether flannel shirt or plaid shirt is the best fit for your fashion style? Here's our deeper look on both shirts.

Flannels and plaids.

Flannel is best known as a wintertime fabric and is commonly utilized to make receiving blankets for babies as well as bedding for the winter. Its incredibly soft texture and warm feel make it an exquisite material for fall/winter clothing as well. 

In fact, anything made of this fabric has a soft, cozy feel that makes it comfortable. Keep reading as we explore the properties of flannel fabric in contrast to plaid fabric and what makes them both unique. 

What is flannel?

Woman wearing a flannel shirt.

Flannel is a soft cloth that has a very light-medium weight. Both sides of the fabric are sheared off to make them even which is why it’s so comfortable to wear. Another reason why flannel is so popular is that most of the time during the winter season is that it’s versatile and suitable for all ages. 

As previously mentioned, flannel is typically used in making receiving blankets to wrap babies in a warm embrace, and you can continue to wear flannel pajamas and sleep in flannel bedding for the rest of your life. 

What is plaid clothing?

Man wearing a plaid shirt.

The word “plaid’’ comes from the specific points created by the unique pattern of plaid cloth. You see, this design often features a woven style with horizontal colored threads running over vertical ones. The word plaid is used because of the crisscross woven pattern that’s created by this design. 

When it comes to texture, plaid material is made from a type of cotton or wool or a mixture of cotton and wool together. This fabric is comfortable enough to make a shirt, a dress, or even a jacket.

Thanks to its attractive print, plaid has been in use for a very long time and is a timeless symbol of Scottish culture. This fabric can be a bit rough compared to flannel fabric and because it weighs more than flannel, it has a heavier feel in comparison. 

Let’s take a look at some of the main differences between these two fabrics, how you may use them in your life and how to choose between the two. 

The difference between flannel and plaid fabric (features)

Flannel shirt, closed up.

It can be a bit difficult to distinguish the two fabrics because most of the features look pretty much the same. For example, flannel fabric can be printed or plain depending on the preferences and tastes of the customer while plaid always comes in its distinctive print. Therefore, flannel is much more versatile in terms of the different print styles that it’s available in. 

Difference in material

Texture of flannel, closed up shot.

Flannels are fabrics while plaid is a print. Flannels are soft and comfortable; you can even brush to make them softer while plaid is a bit rough in texture. Plaid fabrics may weigh more than flannels.

Because flannels are really light in weight, they are mostly used to make baby blankets and other soft clothes like pajamas for both children and adults. 

The difference in terms of design

Bearded man in a plaid shirt.

These two fabrics can be a bit confusing to differentiate because they are commonly used to make similar products, but the texture will always let you know which is which. As soon as you look closer, it’s easy to spot the difference. 

The main difference is that plaid design is usually horizontal and vertical, with a layout that always crosses right-angled prints while flannel is a fabric. 

The difference in their ability to withstand wear or pressure

Young boy playing basketball while wearing a flannel shirt.

When it comes to durability, flannel will always take the lead. During winter, a flannel cloth will keep you warm and feeling cozy no matter how much the temperature drops. Flannel is also more durable than plaid fabric because plaid can’t withstand winter as much as flannel can.

So, during the wintertime, flannel fabric is exactly what you need because the thick texture will stay warm and comfy at all times. 

The cost difference between the two

A hiker wearing a red flannel shirt.

A quality flannel will cost you between $50 to $70 while a plaid cloth will cost you about $13 to $15. This only shows that flannels are more expensive than plaid fabric and this is because flannels are versatile and suitable for a number of uses. You can use flannel to make warm clothes, receiving blankets, winter bedding, and more, whereas plaid material is mainly suitable for making clothes.

The benefits for each

Man sitting down wearing a hooded flannel.

1. Flannel fabric

  • Keeps you warm at all costs
  • It’s comfortable lightweight and breathable 
  • It’s used to make blankets, sheets, and pajamas.

2.  Plaid

  • Used to make all kinds of fashionable and traditional clothes 
  • It has a rich Scottish heritage. 

The history of plaid fabric

Mechanic working in plaid shirt.

Plaid first came into existence in 1700s Scotland. It was originally referred to as ‘Tartan’, a word that signifies the bands woven at right angles. This fabric is still in use today in Scotland and it’s often worn by men on special occasions and important events such as weddings, funerals, rites of passage, etc.

This fabric is a fashionable way to keep Scottish history and culture alive. 

History of flannels

Dark blue flannel shirt on a white background.

Flannel is a product of Welsh culture and was introduced in the `7th century as well. Initially, this fabric was called flanelle before it changed to flannel and prior to that it was called ‘welsh cotton’. Back then, the Welsh used flannel fabric for pretty much the same reasons that we use it today and it only came in two specific colors; mainly white and brown. Surprisingly, flannel used to be a coarse woolen fabric with a fluffy texture and has become softer overtime. 

The Verdict 

Plaid shirt with white t shirt underneath.

Flannel is a soft fabric that comes in different prints and colors, while the plaid fabric is printed in squares and other different lines, with a slightly coarse texture. What sets these fabrics apart is their versatility and texture.