Romancing the Flannel

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

Romancing the Flannel

Flannel … even to say the word out loud evokes a feeling of emotional warmth, unintentionally nudging our senses to perceive softness and allure, yet at the same time—real sophistication.

As we can see autumn approaching (at least from the lookout tower), the magic of the flannel suit calls out from closets all over the world to be dusted off and prepared to wear; and, cutters and tailors from among the finest houses are sharpening their scissors and opening their measuring tapes to create the next season of suits for men who love their flannels.

Wool flannel is different from worsted wool — a little softer and a little more inviting than its worsted counterpart. Flannel is typically a three-season fabric (yet not too early in the fall and not too late in spring) , so investing in this nostalgic fabric has few risks and lends great promise.

 

“Even though I’m in the business, I tend to have a simple uniform. I get nervous when I have too many clothes in my closet. But I felt like it was finally time for me to get a flannel suit. During the winter here in New York my 10-month suits feel like tissue paper. Put on flannel and the cold will not penetrate. Plus, when it thaws out a bit, the flannel will keep you warm enough that you can just throw a scarf around your neck and you’re good to go.”

~ GQ Creative Director Jim Moore

In the United States, flannel fabric was the go-to fabric in bespoke suiting for post-war corporate men. The 1956 film “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” catapulted the fabric’s success, and today, flannel remains an institution in the now less guarded sanctuary of business attire.

Gregory Peck, “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”, 1956

Flannel suits were the last things on our minds a few days ago (with sweltering summer heat engulfing everything in its path), but was brought to our attention last week during a phone conversation with our friend G. Bruce Boyer, who happened to be expressing his complete respect for the high virtue of Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC) flannels and their ability to be on par with probably the best English flannels…yet with some welcome breathing room in regard to pressure on the wallet.

And so with Bruce unintentionally turning our attention towards the wonder of flannel fabric, and in the spirit of the beauty of autumn, we look at some nice examples of flannel fabrics and suiting.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson, Senior Editor.