What has happened to the flannel shirt in the two decades since Kurt Cobain wore it, unbuttoned over a T-shirt in the grunge era? The easygoing fabric has matured: Flannels are, as ever, comfortable, but now they're culled from a finer cotton or wool, brushed smooth, and usually stonewashed or beaten down. The fit, too, has advanced, with armholes cut higher and billowy waists brought in tighter. Assuming you've got a shirt that fits properly, this all translates into freedom of movement and a cleaner, dressier look. "The attitude of the plaids has evolved quite a lot over the last years," says Steven Alan. "They're much more practical and easy to wear now. I always wore flannel shirts as a kid and loved them, so I was excited to start making them for adults." Taming these plaid shirts with a tie is not a move meant only for fashion models. Solid ties are safe with most flannels, but don't fear patterns on patterns: Just be sure to mix up (not match) the colors and styles.
Banana Republic Luxe Brushed Twill Grey Tattersall shirt
The lack of a pocket on this brushed flannel and its medium-spread collar make it dressier. The feel of the fabric is subtle comfort. The tie is by Club Monaco. [$70; bananarepublic.com; $70; clubmonaco.com]
Credit: Photograph by Levi Brown