One of the most common fashion misunderstandings is the difference between flannel and plaid. The terms are used synonymously, though they are very different and more importantly, create very different styles. Given that the 90’s flannel and plaid trend is back in style, I decided to reference the movie Clueless to explain the difference between the two. Let’s take a look at how flannel and plaid were worn.
“Flannel”, on the other hand, was worn as a button down shirt by the grungy crowd. Tai, the new girl that Cher took on as a makeover project, wore a “flannel” shirt until Cher gave her the makeover, at which point she began wearing “plaid” in a different way.
Cher ridiculed people who wore flannel, including her stepbrother Josh: “So, the flannel shirt deal — is that a nod to the crispy Seattle weather, or are you just trying to stay warm in front of the refrigerator?”
Based on these clues, if you haven’t already figured out the answer: Plaid is a pattern. Flannel is a fabric. Plaid comes in many different fabrics and colors. You see plaid shirts, pants, dresses, scarves, the list goes on. It can be a very preppy style.
Flannel also comes in many different prints, mostly when looking at pajamas or bed sheets. The only acceptable way to wear flannel in public is as a plaid print, hence the misuse of plaid and flannel.
The flannel/plaid print is most commonly seen as a button down shirt. While it was once seen as a very grungy style in the 90’s, it does not only have to be a staple amongst grungy hipsters. I recently bought a flannel shirt with a feminine plaid print, and added some of my favorite accessories to give the 90’s grunge look a more fashionable update. The key is adding a chunky statement necklace, and then even mixing in some other prints (I added my snakeskin DVF purse) to give it a modern day spin.