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How to choose the best plaid shirts

The plaid shirt is a fall and winter staple. Typically long-sleeved and made from flannel, plaid shirts are cozy and warm. While the pattern is casual, a plaid button-up can be worn to work in business casual settings. Wearing one unbuttoned over a T-shirt is a stylish, everyday look. Plaid shirts are also great for outdoor excursions, such as camping. 

What’s the difference between plaid and flannel?

Plaid shirts and flannel shirts are often used interchangeably. However, plaid refers to a pattern and flannel to a type of fabric. The confusion stems from the fact that many plaid shirts are made of flannel. Plaid is a print formed by crisscrossing lines in various widths and colors. You can find non-flannel shirts in this pattern. 

What are plaid shirts made from?

Plaid shirts are made of several kinds of fabric:

  • Cotton: Cotton plaid shirts made of lightweight weaves — such as poplin or dress shirts â€” have a crisp, smooth texture. Flannel cotton shirts have a soft weave with a subtle, fuzzy finish that’s woven to retain heat. In general, cotton shirts are breathable. Over time and washes, cotton flannel becomes softer, though it can wear out. 
  • Cotton/polyester blend: A plaid shirt made from a cotton/polyester blend is also breathable but more durable than cotton due to the synthetic threads. It’s also less likely to shrink in the wash. You can find polyester blends with flannel finishes, which feel soft and cozy for cooler weather.  There are also 100% polyester plaid shirts. 
  • Wool:  Wool is the traditional material used in flannel shirts. Woolen plaid shirts are heavyweight and can be worn as outerwear in mild cold weather, often over a base layer. The material is naturally breathable, a great insulator and repels moisture. A long-sleeved woolen shirt will keep you cool when you sweat but warm on a cold day. 

How to wear a plaid shirt

Plaid shirts offer a versatile look and can be dressed up or down. If you have an active job, a flannel plaid shirt is softer and roomier than a dress shirt, which can constrict movement. Most plaid shirts are button-up and feature collars. Tuck it in if you work in an office. Untuck it and unbutton a few buttons for socializing after work.

You can wear a plaid shirt with jeans, khakis, corduroys and skirts. Aim to match your undershirt or bottoms with a complementary color or with the color elements in the plaid. 


Most plaid shirts cost between $14-$100. Wool plaid shirts can cost well over $100. 

Best plaid shirts

Best plaid shirts for women

Best Tommy Hilfiger Plaid Roll-Tab Button-Down Shirt

Tommy Hilfiger Plaid Roll-Tab Button-Down Shirt

This is a lightweight, attractive plaid shirt that features roll-tab sleeves so you can wear them three-quarters length. The red plaid looks cute paired with a red tank top underneath or can be worn buttoned up for the holiday season. 

Sold by Macy’s

Best Legendary Whitetails Women's Cottage Escape Button-Up Flannel

Legendary Whitetails Women’s Cottage Escape Button-Up Flannel

This cotton flannel comes in 19 plaids. It’s great for layering or wearing standalone. The chambray lining at the cuffs and collars is a nice touch. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Dokotoo Women's Corduroy Button-Down Shirt

Dokotoo Women’s Corduroy  Button-Down Shirt

This oversized button-down can be worn as a light jacket. The flannel material is thick without being bulky and will keep you warm and stylish.

Sold by Amazon

Best Match Women's Long-Sleeved Flannel Plaid Shirt

Match Women’s Long-Sleeved Flannel Plaid Shirt

This classic plaid flannel features a slim, feminine cut if you’re not into the boxy look. The all-cotton material has an authentic thick, soft feel, like wool without the itchiness or high price. 

Sold by Amazon

Best plaid shirts for men

Best Columbia Men's Cornell Woods Flannel Long Sleeve Shirt

Columbia Men’s Cornell Woods Flannel Long-Sleeve Shirt

This high-quality flannel shirt can be worn tucked or untucked. The soft cotton is lightweight, features a little stretch and comes in attractive plaids. 

Sold by Macy’s

Best Carhartt Men's Loose Fit Heavyweight Flannel

Carhartt Men’s Loose Fit Heavyweight Flannel

This is roomy, warm flannel you can wear days in a row. The triple-stitched seams and durable cotton can be worn for work and in the great outdoors. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Wrangler Authentics Men's Long Sleeve Heavyweight Fleece Shirt

Wrangler Authentics Men’s Long Sleeve Heavyweight Fleece Shirt 

For a classic lumberjack look, this fleece shirt comes in a variety of buffalo plaid colors. It’s perfect for a cozy campfire. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Legendary Whitetails Men's Buck Camp Flannel Shirt

Legendary Whitetails Men’s Buck Camp Flannel Shirt

Available in over three dozen colors, there’s a plaid for everyone with this shirt. It has everything you could ask for in a flannel: softness, durability, extra length and warmth. 

Sold by Amazon

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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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