Flannel Look: Inspiration, Outfit Ideas and Style Tips

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Caucasian woman wearing a black and red flannel shirt sitting in a car not smiling
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Last Updated on February 12, 2022

The 90s flannel look derives from the grunge aesthetic—a fashion style that rose to popularity in the early 90s and became a mainstream trend. The trend was adopted around the world.

A few locations stood out however, especially the United States, Australia, and Latin America—places were the grunge music genre grew consistently. Grunge fashion stood apart from the other ongoing trends of the 90s.

Now:

Key elements such as flannel are now considered iconic, and have made a huge comeback from luxury high end fashion brands down to fast fashion.

In this article I reveal what inspired flannel fashion in the 90s, outfits you can wear today and even break these down by season.

Let’s get started…

Flannel Inspiration

Flannel is praised for being highly comfortable due to its softness. During the 90s, laidback, casual, and comfortable attire were all the rage. It is no wonder flannel was one of the most popular fabrics during the decade.

The greatest women style icons of grunge fashion in the 90s were involved directly with the grunge music genre.

Donita Sparks, singer and guitarist for LA grunge group L7, was an icon of grunge wear who was often seen wearing flannel garments in different shades. Her style was described as messy, grotesque, and heavily emo punk. If you want to know more about emo styles read this guide on emo styles of the 90s and 00s.

American singer Gwen Stefani of the band No Doubt, sported her share of grunge fashion looks during the 90s. While she formed part of various different style aesthetics, many remember her for her cropped tees, chunky combat boots, and flannel trousers.

Scottish singer Shirley Manson of the grunge band Garbage became an important style icon of the 90s. Red flannel was her favorite garment and print—worn mostly in dresses and skirts.

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Flannel Outfit Ideas and Style Tips

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how to recreate the 90s flannel look today, seeing as this has once again turned into an important trend.

The easiest way to incorporate flannel into any outfit, is by simply throwing on an oversized, button up flannel shirt. This was one of the most common ways to wear flannel back in the 90s, by both men and women.

This style is comfortable, effortless, but can be very feminine when styled correctly. For a more relaxed effect, wear with baggy jeans and your favorite tee.

For a chicer finish, pair with a form fitting crop top, and black trousers. Another way to add flannel to an outfit is to tie a flannel shirt around your waist easy and comfortable, and very nostalgic of the 90s. These were the most common ways to wear a flannel 90s button up shirt.

Read:

Chola Style, Looks and Fashion Trends from the 90s

90s Grunge Accessories for Women That’ll Turn Heads

27 of the Best 90s Fashion Accessories for Every Ocassion

Seasonal Outfits

Ever since flannel has made a comeback from the 90s, there are endless new ways to incorporate the fashion style.

Summer 90s Flannel Fashion

A flannel shirt tied into a fashionable knot at the front, is an easy way to incorporate this material for warmer weather. While flannel was traditionally used as a protection against the cold, it can definitely be adapted and used on its own.

Cropped and sleeveless versions of flannel shirts are highly common, and are the ideal alternatives for summer temperatures. For the summer, choose cotton flannel fabrics over woolen.

This casual soft button plaid shirt from Amazon is the ideal top to tie a knot with, and roll the sleeves up for a fresher outfit idea. The 100% cotton fabric is perfect for the summer heat.

Spring 90s Flannel Fashion

Flannel dresses are the perfect way to dress grunge in spring. They are fresh, open, and ideal for a warm yet slightly cooler weather. They can be paired by your favorite sandals, low top sneakers, or with slip on loafers.

Another alternative to the spring take on flannel is a shorts jumpsuit, which is a similar style to the dress but converted into shorts. Some people may prefer this.

This Missguided blush flannel drawstring romper is a beautiful girly and feminine version of the grunge take to wear on the everyday. This garment is also long sleeve, but the sleeves can be rolled back if the weather is too warm. Combine with chunky white sneakers for the optimal finish.

Fall 90s Flannel Fashion

For the fall and winter, heavier flannels made from wool are much more appropriate. While there are endless color variations within flannel pieces, brown and earthy tones look best for fall.

A thick woollen flannel shirt, buttoned all the way up, paired with mom jeans and black boots, is the perfect way to recreate the 90s look. This helps you stay warm in the colder months too.

Another option is a flannel shirt dress worn with over the knee boots. This style will make you look very put together and is ideal for fall time. This Off-White checked flannel shirt dress features a loose silhouette, adjustable drawstring dress, and a curved hem.

Winter 90s Flannel Fashion

A flannel coat is the perfect way to incorporate this 90s style into your winter wardrobe. You can layer, throw on over anything, or wear by itself with a pair of black leather pants for a cool and refined finish.

This Verdusa button down long sleeve pocketed plaid coat is made from 100% polyester but is the perfect option for a grunge fashion winter look. The dark green and grey hues match the cold weather perfectly. The fabric will keep you cozy in the lowest of temperatures.

Better known as pajama pants, another winter flannel trend is baggy joggers. Very similar to the kind Gwen Stefani wore throughout her music career in the 90s. These pants are highly comfortable and fun, but very casual and informal.

Wear with a tee shirt and leather jacket to dress them up a bit, and finish with chunky black combat boots. These Ekouaer lounge pants double as pajama pants and joggers for a casual outing, or for relaxing at home.

Read: Styles of Pants from the Nineties You Can Wear for Any Event

Different Flannel Outfit Combos

Since flannel is warm, soft, and usually has a high percentage of cotton (which makes it retain warmth but doesn’t trap humidity), it is one of my preferred fabrics for the winter season. Of course, it also instantly conjures up images of snow-capped mountains, skiing slopes, open fires, and marshmallows on a stick!

Flannel is also very handy since it can be used as a first, middle, or outer layer. The fabric’s qualities that make it ideal for home wear, be it for a chilly afternoon or a late-night movie binge, also make it itch-free, so you can wear it directly on your skin. I do prefer to wear mine layered over a crew neck t-shirt, but this is entirely a matter of taste!  

Flannel with jeans

Another great pairing is a flannel with jeans outfit. As usual, jeans are the quintessential chameleon in your closet. There is nothing that they don’t look great with, but flannel looks particularly striking. Pair up straight jeans with a puffer jacket or a long open coat with a thick scarf that matches your flannel for an elegant detail. Depending on what you add to the look, you can go slightly punk, cottage core, or sporty. The options are endless!  

Flannel with a black dress

The truth is that flannel looks great in many forms. It is almost impossible to go wrong with it. Ever tried a flannel over a black dress outfit?It looks beyond chic.

Add a pair of thick thighs underneath, woolen socks, and Timberland boots and you will be picture-perfect: ready for a snowy cottage or a late-night date. Try to avoid prints since most will clash with the tartan in the flannel. You can also add a shearling jacket on top of your flannel shirt for some extra toastiness!

Flannel with leggings

A flannel and leggings outfit is another winning combination. Some great Amazon leggings have shearling inside and are skin-colored, so you can wear them under black tights and it will look like you are immune to the freezing temperatures! No one will notice, I swear!

That actually makes it possible to wear miniskirts in snowy weather without freezing your privates off. I know, if you didn’t know about it, it’s genius. Oh, add a long coat or trench coat and over-the-knee boots to complete the cosmopolitan look.

Flannel tied around your waist (Grunge style)

Of course, not everyone wants to wear their flannel shirts the usual way. You can also dip your toes into a soft grunge aesthetic and tie your flannel around your waist, Kurt Cobain style (but skip the t-shirt with holes!). Lots of chicks wore the shirts like this during the 90s, I remember Renee Zellweger doing this on Empire Records at some point. 

Read: Grunge Style Guide: Outfits for Every Season and Look (Women’s Edition)

Flannel with cargo pants and a high neck sweater

Pairing cargo pants with a high neck sweater and a flannel shirt is another great flannel pants outfit. Plus, cargo pants are super trendy right now (just ask Bella Hadid or Meghan Fox). Doc Martens boots, a mock high-neck long-sleeved t-shirt, and a bucket hat will complete the look. 

Flannel with joggers (Hobo style)

You might be wondering, what about wearing flannel and joggers? I’m not a huge fan of this combo, because it looks a bit on the bum side. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about it, it just doesn’t vibe with me. If you want to pull it off anyway, add a blazer or a trench on top, and it might uplift the whole look just enough to make it smart casual.

Flannel with shorts

Another question I get asked a lot is can you wear flannel with shorts? Definitely, yes!

Flannel is mostly associated with super warm outfits but it also works great for in-between seasons. Denim shorts are my favorite, together with tied-up booties, and a loose cardigan on top. You can turn this look into an early spring ensemble by going for a tank top, keeping your flannel shirt open, and donning boating shoes instead of boots.

Pajama pants and crop top (Loungewear style)

Flannel pajama pants and a crop top are an easy and casual flannel outfit idea that you can wear around your home, chilling with family, or lounging with pals. Any top or bra top will look amazing under a flannel shirt, particularly so when their colors offer some contrast (think black crop top and red plaid flannels, for example). 

Flannel with oversized shirt (Emo style)

If there is something true about an open or any type of flannel look it’s that even an emo flannel look with an oversized shirt and baggy pants looks super cozy and warm so don’t be afraid to try new things and crazy pairings! 

Red flannel

Red flannel is undoubtedly the most classic flannel aesthetic and the original cottage core outfit idea. That being said, fashion brands have worked hard to create some amazing color options for flannel. 

Oh, pro tip: If you are a girl, check out men’s flannel shirts. They are usually top quality and carried by some big brands like Wrangler and Levi’s. They look stunning when worn by ladies too!

Here are some of my top picks for different colored flannel shirts:

Black flannel

Full black might not be what you instantly think of when you think flannel, but this black flannel shirt from Wrangler would make for a stunning black flannel outfit. Grey is also a winning candidate, try this model if you want something a bit more grunge. 

Yellow flannel

Yellow is a popular color for flannel shirts. Amazon plays it safe with this white and yellow flannel shirt that makes for a super classic outfit and goes all out like with this super bright yellow shirt for men.

White flannel

For women, another interesting option is to go for a shirt/dress. Like this extra-long flannel shirt that can double as a white flannel outfit from Omoone

Green flannel

This Carhart green flannel shirt would make for a striking outfit paired up with an indigo-dyed pair of blue jeans. The clothing brand Dickie’s has another great green option that might be worth looking into.

Brown flannel

Last, but not least, Amazon Essentials has some great options when it comes to flannel shirts. My favorite is this essentials long sleeve brown flannel shirt that would make for a superb cottage core outfit. And for women, this Blooming Jelly brown flannel that looks absolutely amazing!

Make sure to join us on Instagram for more flannel inspiration. And write a comment below!

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Ever since her childhood Ana Luisa has been passionate about fashion. Ana currently studies Business of Fashion at Polimoda in Florence, Italy and is always amazed at how fashion brings people together and creates a sense of belonging for people who may feel like outcasts. Ana loves seeing reflections and evolutions of 90s trends as modern comebacks in the fashion industry today. Ana is also a fan of 90s supermodels and would wishes she could live a day in 90s Manhattan.