Flannels / Lumberjack shirts
Where would grunge have been without the warm layering of plaid flannel shirts? Whether worn over a pair of thermal long johns or tied around the waist, flannels were security blankets to the angst-filled adolescents of the 90’s grunge scene.
Before they were called flannels, they were mountain man or lumberjack shirts. These heavy wool work shirts were worn in the upper provinces of Canada and adopted as cold weather wear for anyone (like mountain men or lumberjacks) needing a little extra warmth when outside. The lumberjack shirt became integral to the rugged, rebellious spirit of the wilderness.
When TV heroes like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone exposed kids to the wild frontier, lumberjack shirts returned, and Pendleton was the only name to know. The Pendleton Woolen Mills of Oregon created the best in brightly-colored plaid wool shirts, and the first counterculture group of the 50's, the beats, utilized the rugged wear for their uniform.
The lumberjack/flannel shirt was relegated to the backwoods for several decades, making brief appearances in fringe subculture groups like the punks of the 70's. But the restless nature of the beats returned with 90’s grunge, and adolescence was reunited with a love of plaid flannels. Like denim jeans during the 40's, flannels became a ubiquitous part of everyday fashion.
These country style lumberjack shirts grew lighter, and became less function and more fashion. No longer necessitating heavy wool for warmer climates, a cotton flannel was used instead of scratchy wool, and the plaid shirts were now commonly referred to as ‘flannels.’ Flannels were made of soft cotton fabric with a nap, or fuzzy surface, with woven or printed plaid patterns.
And so flannels became the quintessential garb for grunge wear. They were light enough to tie around the waist in warm, sunny weather, and offered just enough protection when the weather turned on a dime to cold and rainy (as it often did in grunge mecca Seattle, Washington). And they looked pretty tough, too.
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