There’s nothing plain about plaid — the problem, though, is that unless you’re going for a country-style, laidback lumberjack kind of look, flannel shirts might not be the most stylish thing around. Come on, how many times can you pull off a shirt + jeans combo without coming across as mildly boring? Then again, it’s often not what you wear, but how you wear it. So take this as a fresh perspective on the classic flannel shirt.
Whether it’s on its own, tucked in, buttoned up, as outerwear, or layered under dresses (our new favourite way to wear them), you’ll find that the shirts work surprisingly well across a range of styles. After all, there’s good reason why they’re considered a wardrobe staple; the myriad of colours that you typically find on a plaid shirt can go from muted and subtle, to a faded vintage style, or loud tone-on-tone, making it one of the most versatile garments you can own. Naturally, the first place we’d go to when hunting for the perfect flannel shirt would be somewhere where we get plenty of options — and obviously, Uniqlo comes to mind.
You must have been to their flagship store at Orchard, right? It’s bright and gleaming and brimming with so many new things all the time, a joy to anyone who steps in, though today, we’re zooming in straight to the Japanese brand’s newest launch, the Uniqlo Flannel collection. There are over 50 colours and patterns available, in the softest material, so you’ll truly be spoilt for choice — and like all things Uniqlo, they go for an affordable price of $29.90. Here, we’ve put together a couple of looks — for both men and women — to get you inspired.
Look 1: Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Denim Jacket, $59.90; Slim Boyfriend Fit Ankle Length Jeans, $49.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Look 2: Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Rayon Slit Neck Sleeveless Blouse, $29.90; Drape Jogger Pants (Stripe), $49.90. All items, Uniqlo.
We’ll start off with something simple. Here’s the most straightforward way to wear a flannel shirt, with your favourite pair of jeans, and everyone owns one right! To make it stand out, consider a denim jacket as well, though this ideally should be part of the overall colour scheme — here, we went for a tonal look, where the blue checks both went in sync with and stood out against a sea of light blues.
With pastel shades and millennial pink being key colour trends this year, you might have already introduced them in your wardrobe too — but how about your work attire? While most people tend towards black and navy, you can look just as put-together with a clean-cut top and fitted pants, especially when it’s subtly pinstriped. Then, toss a flannel shirt over (note the vintage hues) or tie it around your waist to soften the Casual Friday look. Bonus: this chic outfit totally works for the weekend too.
Look: Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Crepe Camisole Long Dress, $49.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Uniqlo’s sleek camisole dresses are usually snapped up in no time (trust us, actual experience here trying to hunt down our sizes), and it’s probably because of the trendy, and very 90s throwback, look of layering your plain t-shirts or long-sleeved tops under a slip dress. While that trend’s a bit more monochromatic or grungy, who’s to say you can’t mix it up with some bright colours and plaid? Choosing a vibrant dress, based on your flannel shirt, and then having it layered over, makes the look immediately fun and feminine; these summery shades go perfect with peachy-hued makeup too.
Look 1: Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Jogger Pants (Cargo), $39.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Look 2: Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Blade Hat, $29.90; Faux Leather Double-Breasted Jacket, $99.90; Slim Fit Damaged Jeans, $59.90. All items, Uniqlo.
We’ve come up with some great looks for the men too, and here, you’ll see a classic red-white-grey style worn in the most mainstream way — over pants — though it does look more stylish than the average dresser. It all boils down to the details, of course. Having that nice brown play off the earthy tones of the shirt makes the look pleasing on the eye, while cargo pockets and boots aren’t that run-of-the-mill either.
And since plaid is very much entwined with grunge culture, having a look that you’ll wanna rock up to music festivals with doesn’t hurt too. We’re used to plaid shirts and their colourful washes of colour, but here, a flannel shirt with a grid-like pattern is subtle enough on a full black-on-black attire, a style that has just enough street cred and laidback vibes for one to stand out at an event or get-together.
Look 1: Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Drape Gaucho Pants, $49.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Look 2: Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Rayon Sleeveless Long Dress, $49.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Colour blocking’s always in, and other than a flannel shirt doing half the work for you, be bold and flounce around in a pair of culottes too; the mustard gaucho pants you see here adds an electrifying pop of colour to the outfit, a nice contrast since this time it isn’t just paired with neutral black or white. You’ll wanna pop by cafes or go museum-hopping in these, or wear them around your creative “millennial” shared work space, basically anything but a dinner-and-movies date.
On the more subdued end of the colour spectrum, there’s the familiar red checked shirt, though this time worn under a navy dress. We’re getting a preppy, schoolgirl vibe to the outfit, which you’ll want to play up on with mary jane heels to match. Perhaps to dinner with your future-in-laws? Either way, the graphic pattern on the shirt makes the look infinitely more interesting than, say, wearing the dress on its own, so you know you’re not playing it too safe.
Look 1: Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Baseball Cap, $29.90; SPRZ NY J.Polan S/S Graphic T-Shirt, $19.90; Chino Shorts, $29.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Look 2: Flannel Checked Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90; Dry Stretch Jacket, $79.90; KANDO Pants (Striped), $59.90. All items, Uniqlo.
Here are two very different outfits that work; first, a flannel shirt worn as an outer layer to your casual graphic shirt-and-shorts combo. It’s something you’d immediately wear to the beach, or realistically, anywhere in tropical Singapore, since the style’s so easy to pull off. Put on that baseball hat, sure, but stand out with both coral chino shirts and fuss-free layering.
Then, when you’re in need of a smarter outfit for an event or one of those new-age garden weddings, you don’t necessarily need to turn to the old suit and tie. Play around with textures — the striped pants, flannel shirt and lightweight formal jacket all give off dandy crisp lines, especially when they’re in the same grey spectrum, but the barely-there stripes and more casual feel of the shirt (those micro-checks too!) means you won’t look too stuffy or stiff. It’s the best, and easiest, way to break out of formal wear, really.
Uniqlo Flannel collection, each shirt at $29.90, available at Uniqlo stores islandwide and online at uniqlo.com/sg.
Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw (Basic Models) and Kim Sung Su (Now Models)