Is a Flannel Shirt Business Casual? A Guide to Wearing Flannel in the – SSLR

Is a Flannel Shirt Business Casual? A Guide to Wearing Flannel in the Workplace

by Bruce Conor on February 20, 2023

Flannel shirts have long been a staple of casual wear, but with the rise of the "business casual" dress code, many are wondering if flannel can be worn in the workplace. While the answer may vary depending on your industry and workplace, this article will provide a guide to help you determine if a flannel shirt can be considered business casual.


Understanding Business Casual


Before diving into the topic of flannel shirts, it's important to understand what "business casual" means. Business casual is a dress code that is less formal than traditional business attire but still maintains a professional appearance. It typically includes dress slacks, khakis, skirts or dresses paired with a button-down shirt, blouse, or sweater. It's important to note that the definition of business casual may vary from industry to industry and from workplace to workplace. Some industries, such as finance and law, may have a more formal interpretation of business casual than others.

Flannel shirts are typically made from a warm, comfortable, and soft fabric with a distinctive plaid pattern. They have long been associated with casual wear, and many people consider them to be too casual for the workplace. However, the rise of the "lumbersexual" trend, which combines rugged outdoor clothing with urban fashion, has made flannel shirts more popular and acceptable in certain settings.


Can a Flannel Shirt Be Business Casual?

Whether a flannel shirt can be considered business casual depends on several factors, including the workplace dress code, the color and pattern of the shirt, and how it's worn. Here are some guidelines to consider:


Workplace Dress Code

The first thing to consider is the dress code of your workplace. If your workplace has a strict dress code, such as "business professional," a flannel shirt is likely not appropriate. However, if your workplace has a more relaxed dress code, such as "business casual," a flannel shirt may be acceptable.


Color and Pattern

When it comes to flannel shirts, the color and pattern can make a big difference in how they are perceived in a professional setting. Solid-colored flannel shirts in neutral colors like black, gray, or navy blue are more likely to be considered business casual than brightly colored or patterned shirts. If you do opt for a patterned flannel shirt, choose a subtle pattern rather than a bold one.


How it's Worn

The way you wear your flannel shirt can also affect its perceived level of formality. To make a flannel shirt more business casual, pair it with dress slacks or khakis rather than jeans. Tuck in the shirt and add a belt for a more polished look. To add an extra layer of professionalism, throw on a blazer or cardigan.


When to Wear a Flannel Shirt


If you decide that a flannel shirt can be worn in your workplace, there are still some guidelines to follow to ensure that it looks professional. Here are some tips for wearing a flannel shirt in a business casual setting:


Stick to Neutral Colors

As mentioned earlier, solid-colored flannel shirts in neutral colors are the best choice for a professional setting. Black, gray, and navy blue are classic choices that pair well with dress slacks or khakis.


Choose a Fitted Style

When it comes to flannel shirts, a fitted style is more appropriate for the workplace than an oversized, baggy style. A fitted shirt looks more polished and put-together, which is important in a professional setting.


Pair with Dress Slacks or Khakis

Pairing your flannel shirt with dress slacks or khakis is the best way to create a professional look. Avoid pairing it with jeans, as jeans are generally too casual for a business casual dress code.


Accessorize Thoughtfully

Accessories can elevate a flannel shirt from casual to business casual. A simple leather belt and dress shoes can give your outfit a more professional look. Avoid sneakers or any footwear that would be better suited for a casual setting.


Layer with a Blazer or Cardigan

Layering a flannel shirt with a blazer or cardigan is a great way to add a touch of formality to your outfit. A blazer can instantly elevate a flannel shirt to a more professional look, while a cardigan can add warmth and texture. Choose a blazer or cardigan that complements the color of your shirt and fits well.


When Not to Wear a Flannel Shirt


While flannel shirts can be appropriate for certain business casual settings, there are times when they should be avoided. Here are some situations where you should opt for a more formal outfit:


Client Meetings

When meeting with clients or prospective clients, it's best to err on the side of caution and dress more formally. A flannel shirt may be too casual for such an important meeting, so choose a more formal outfit such as a suit and tie.


Job Interviews

In a job interview, it's important to make a good impression, and dressing professionally can help. Even if the company has a relaxed dress code, it's best to dress more formally for a job interview. A flannel shirt may not give off the best impression, so choose a dress shirt and tie instead.


Formal Events

Flannel shirts are not appropriate for formal events such as weddings, funerals, or black-tie events. For such occasions, a suit and tie or formal dress is more appropriate.



In conclusion, whether a flannel shirt can be considered business casual depends on several factors. If your workplace has a relaxed dress code and you choose a neutral-colored, fitted flannel shirt and pair it with dress slacks and dress shoes, you can create a professional look. However, there are times when a flannel shirt should be avoided, such as client meetings, job interviews, and formal events. As always, it's important to follow your company's dress code policy and use your best judgment when choosing what to wear to work.