I have a lot to say about flannel in this post, but before we jump into it, the punchline is this: L.L. Bean’s Rangely Flannel Shirt is an exceptionally good piece of clothing. L.L. Bean’s Sherpa-Lined Scotch Plaid Shirt might be even better. Let’s get into it.
I have always had a handful of plaid flannel shirts in my wardrobe, so this whole ’90s resurgence that we find ourselves in the midst of at the moment? Very into it. And even though I’ve been wearing said flannel all along, I’m ultra-excited that now we can go so far as to call it on-trend. As a flannel lover, however, I can attest that not all shirts in this genre are created equal.
Seeking: The Best Classic Plaid Flannel Shirt For Women
And then there’s what I’m going to call classic flannel. Which should, in theory, walk a line somewhere between the two. I like the “borrowed” boyfriend feel, but I don’t want to be swimming it. Long enough to be knotted, oversized enough to tie around the waist with fabric to spare. Flannel you’d wear to a college bonfire. Or after a long day at the lake. But you could wear it for drinks, too, without feeling too much like you walked out of PacSun circa 1996. Rooted in the outdoors, but citied up just a bit. For some reason, this seems more elusive. So of course, that’s what I’m after.
When I originally set out to do a post on flannel, I was intending to order pieces from all over the internet and do a deep dive — much like I did for Down Sweaters — but then something happened. My first shipment arrived from L.L. Bean — and possibly for the first time in forever (name that song), I didn’t feel the need to look any further. (Side note: is it just me, or is L.L. Bean seeming infinitely cooler these days? This retro-chic puffer? YZPLZ.)
On The Hunt For A Classic Plaid Flannel Shirt:
2 Pieces Worth Snapping Up Right Now
So, here’s a not-so-succinct synopsis of what I’m considering two of the best buys of 2020: the L.L. Bean Rangely Flannel Shirt and, even though it doesn’t strictly fall into standard flannel shirt territory, the L.L. Bean Sherpa-Lined Scotch Plaid Shirt.
There’s no real styling at work here, but I did swap back and forth between a classic pair of dark rinse skinnies (similar) and my fave Cheeky ’90s Fit Jeans (TTS — they fit like a Levi’s 501, but with no break-in period!), so you can see how the plaid pairs with a couple of different looks.
Oh, and just for comparison purposes, I did impulse buy a similar classic plaid shirt from Legendary Whitetails, so the review for that follows, too.
1) L.L. Bean Rangely Flannel Shirt
(aka the best plaid flannel shirt for the money)
There are some big claims in this post, so let’s get into what makes this L.L. Bean Rangely Flannel shirt — I’m just going to say it: the best plaid flannel shirt for the money. First off, let’s talk price — $59.95 for straight and petite sizing, $64.95 for plus. (That’s right — it’s available in all three.) Now, while that’s a heck of a lot more than the men’s flannel work shirts I used to stock up at Mervyn’s or Walmart back in high school, it feels really reasonably priced for what you get. The relaxed fit gives just enough of that borrowed, boyfriend-y vibe. The length is long enough that you can tuck it or tie it any number of ways. The quality is superb. And the sustainable (!!) blend of cotton and Tencel makes it incredibly soft and comfy. Think Rails soft, but just a tad thicker. And less than half the price.
Maybe best of all, L.L. Bean has totally nailed the classic plaid pattern game. Every single colorway could be worn year-round — nothing reads hokey or overly holiday. (Though with a little styling these are still the shirts holiday photoshoot dreams are made of.) I’m wearing the Navy (sizes going fast), but I love the Spruce and the Admiral Blue — and in Petite and Plus sizes there’s a Cream that’s super-versatile. In fact, I genuinely don’t think you could go wrong with any of the colors.
2) L.L. Bean Sherpa-Lined Scotch Plaid Shirt
(the OG shacket)
Dang, friends. This thing is so good, I’m not even sure where to start. I threw this in my cart on a whim purely because finding a well-stocked shacket seems near impossible these days. Hopes were…not high. So my near immediate obsession caught me a little by surprise.
We’ll jump in with fabrication first. Classic, 100% cotton flannel lined with super-soft sherpa through the body and a jersey lining on the sleeves. (This feels very important to me; while the sleeves are lined for warmth, they’re easy to slip in and out of and not so pudgy that you can’t comfortably bend your elbows. Someone put some thought into this, and I’m glad for it.) As such, this ends up being a stellar midlayer piece — you could layer a turtleneck or even a thin sweater under it, and if the weather called for it (which it rarely does in these parts), you better believe I’d plop a big ol’ faux fur coat over the top.
Fit was a pleasant surprise, too. Both this piece and the Rangely flannel, above, are L.L. Bean’s relaxed fit, which is considered their loosest — and, at first blush I would think least flattering — fit. BUT it turns out both of these pieces just wouldn’t have the same appeal if they were slimmer. (Photo evidence of this below, if you keep scrolling…) As far as shackets go, the fit on this one is spot on. I sized up to a S from my usual XS because I wanted there to be no mistaking this for a cutesy little jacket, and I think I love it. With the sleeves cuffed, it can even almost pass as a bit blazer-y. I wouldn’t call it office appropriate, but it makes it feel a bit more intentional, and even a little playful. The Scotch plaid offerings couldn’t possibly be more classic. True Scottish tartans, including my favorite Rob Roy (red/black buffalo plaid).
Maybe the only thing I regret? Not realizing there was a hooded version. Ugh. How many plaid shackets is too many?
Oh, and the price: $89 for straight and petite sizing, $99 for plus. So we’re talking a solidly constructed, trendy but not overly trendy, 3-season jacket for under $100. Totally fair.
On The Hunt For A Classic Plaid Flannel Shirt:
2 Honorable Mentions
So the first two completely checked all the boxes I was after, but these two are still worth a nod. The first is a slimmer fit — and true, 100% cotton thicker flannel — also from L.L. Bean. The second is a Legendary Whitetails shirt that came up tops in my Amazon searches and is a stellar bargain with only a few small flaws. And flaws isn’t even the right word. I’m just being ultra-picky.
Despite the stellar reviews, I wasn’t fully convinced that the relaxed fit of the Rangely flannel (above) was going to be exactly what I had in mind, so I threw L.L. Bean’s Slightly-Fitted Scotch Plaid Flannel in the mix, too. And while nothing too offensive comes off in the photos, I didn’t love the cut for my body. It’s a little longer, and, as advertised, a little slimmer — and yet somehow (maybe it’s the color I chose?) the effect ended up being just a wee bit more mumsy than I wanted. Or maybe it’s because I sized up to a S when I should have stuck with the XS if I was really trying to take advantage of the closer cut. Orrrrr maybe it’s more the fact that this is their classic 100% cotton flannel, which is a little thicker than the Tencel blend in the Rangely and, therefore, a little bulkier? Don’t get me wrong: with a little styling, it works. Tucked, great. Knotted, great. Rolled cuffs, fine. Quality, excellent — that true, brushed flannel in the Scotch plaid is the real deal. Not a bad buy at $49.95 — and available in sizes XS-3X and Petite XS-XL. Runner-up status for me.
This Legendary Whitetails shirt came up time and time again on Amazon when I conducted my initial search, so yeah, I thought — why not. Total pleasant surprise in terms of fit and quality, and I love the colorways, too. Flannel is soft but sturdy. My tiny nitpicky thing is that the buttons gap just a tad at the bust even though the shirt is nowhere near tight — so maybe it’s just the chambray lining on the button placket that makes it a bit too stiff to lay flat? Which is a shame because that same chambray lining is at the collar and cuffs, and I downright love the concept. Not sure that gap is a deal breaker. I’ve popped this shirt on a handful of times now, each time intending to return it, and I still can’t pack it up. So if it’s good enough for a second. and third. and fourth try…I couldn’t leave it out. And not that it matters, because you should love the heck out of something regardless of the price tag, but at $29.99 it’s not a huge risk.
Shop All My Plaid Flannel Shirt Picks
Once I realized how much I loved the quality and fabrication of the L.L. Bean flannel shirts, I really went down the rabbit hole looking up all the fits and colorways. Below, more of my top choices — plus a couple other promising picks from around the web.
Cheers to all the not-overly-trendy, not-overly-spendy plaid flannel shirts, friends. Love it when that happens.
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