Budget Fall Flannel for 2020

Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2 (1990), John Saxon in Moonshine County Express (1977), Dennis Haysbert in Far From Heaven (2002), and Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows (1955)After I shared some of my favorite budget-friendly movie and TV-inspired summer shirts this year, I also received some interest in a similar post for the autumn so my thoughts immediately went to rounding up some fall-friendly flannel shirts, jackets, and shackets based on my favorite types of movies to watch around this time of year.

My taste in fall movies runs from the rough to the refined. Having grown up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, I always had a soft spot for the low-budget “hick flicks” (and I use the term endearingly) often rolled out during the ’70s by groups like American International Pictures or New World Pictures. The latter distributed Moonshine County Express, one of many movies I saw for the first time while under quarantine this year, and a clear bridge between Burt Reynolds’ early fare like White Lightning and the more formulaic world of the Duke boys in Hazzard County.

Of course, it also wouldn’t be fall without the melodramatic sophistication of Douglas Sirk or his romantic heroes with a taste for flannel as modeled by Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows or by his spiritual successor Dennis Haysbert in the autumnal drama Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’ 2002 ode to Sirk.

Finally, the holidays means we’re in Die Hard season with both the 1988 original film and its 1990 sequel each set during an action-packed Christmas Eve. Bruce Willis’ cynical hero may be tragically underdressed for his adventure in Nakatomi Tower, but he makes up for it two years later by keeping his shirt and shoes while battling baddies in the snow.

Please feel free to add your own observations or flannel favorites in the comments!

All prices, ratings, and availability as of November 17, 2020.


John McClane’s Black Watch Plaid Shirt in Die Hard 2

“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” John McClane (Bruce Willis) groans as yet another Christmas Eve finds him crawling through a ventilation shaft between battles against well-armed terrorists. At least this time, he’s dressed in layers for the snowy airport battle, eventually peeling off his tweed topcoat and ribbed-knit wool Abercrombie & Fitch shawl-collar sweater to face off in his checked Banana Republic shirt, corduroy Cerruti trousers, and—perhaps most importantly for McClane—shoes!

McClane’s shirt stays intact throughout his ordeal, protected by borrowed outerwear like an engineer’s parka and a fireman’s jacket. This extended screen time provides plenty of opportunities to identify the plaid, a small-scaled and muted variation of the classic Black Watch tartan. Heritage of Scotland traces this tartan to 18th century watch companies in the Scottish Highlands, specifically Clan Campbell and one from each of Clan Munro, Clan Fraser of Lovat, and Clan Grant. The Black Watch tartan may have originated with the latter and remains popular with its blue, green, and black check.

Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard 2 (1990)

John McClane prepares to spend yet another Christmas Eve feeling like a TV dinner in Die Hard 2 (1990).

The Budget Buy:

Goodthreads Men’s Standard-Fit Long-Sleeve Brushed Flannel Shirt

Amazon
Goodthreads Men’s Standard-Fit Long-Sleeve Brushed Flannel Shirt
(also available in Slim Fit)

Price: up to $30

Color: Navy Black Watch Plaid

Material: 100% cotton

Average customer rating: 4.6/5 stars (1,080 reviews)

Do I own it? No

An all-cotton brushed flannel shirt for only $30 and checked in a classic, masculine tartan like Black Watch plaid? This could be an easy staple for any guy looking to build a more mature casual wardrobe or an affordable workhorse shirt for the stylish gent.

Medium Range:

Pocket Flannel Shirt in Standard Fit from Gap

Gap
Pocket Flannel Shirt in Standard Fit

Price: $59.95

Color: Black Watch Plaid

Material: 100% cotton

Average customer rating: 4.3/5 stars (3 reviews)

Do I own it? No

Like Willis’ screen-worn shirt from Gap’s sister brand Banana Republic, this flannel shirt takes a more muted approach to Black Watch plaid.

The Investment:

Men’s Lodge Classic Long Sleeve Button Front Wool Shirt from Pendleton

Pendleton Woolen Mills
Men’s Lodge Classic Long Sleeve Button Front Wool Shirt

Price: up to $149

Color: Black Watch Tartan

Material: 100% wool

Average Customer Rating: 4.6/5 stars (74 reviews)

Do I own it? No

While perhaps too warm or itchy for an action-packed evening fighting terrorists, this classic Tartan plaid woolen flannel shirt from one of America’s premier woolen mills would be the perfect layer for an autumn or winter evening spent by the fire with a loved one… especially if you saved that loved one during a terrorist takeover of an L.A. skyscraper during the previous holiday season.

You can read more about the original look in my BAMF Style post. Though I don’t own any of the shirts listed above, I do have some comfortable Black Watch plaid flannel shirts from J. Crew as well as Target’s house brand Goodfellow & Co. that I would have recommended had I written this post in previous years!


John Saxon’s Yellow MacLeod Tartan Shirt in Moonshine County Express

Before the Duke boys tore up Hazzard County in the General Lee, there was another hard-driving Mopar driver running moonshine through the South… and I’m not talking about Burt Reynolds!

Moonshine County Express (1977) was standard low-budget fare from producer Roger Corman, with the Brooklyn-born John Saxon in the role usually played by Reynolds as he teamed up with the gun-toting Hammer sisters—including one played by Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady—to take on the corrupt and corpulent liquor kingpin trying to rule their Kentucky county with a bloody fist.

John Saxon in Moonshine County Express (1977)

John Saxon drives into town as the reckless moonshiner J.B. Johnson in his yellow MacLeod Tartan plaid flannel shirt in Moonshine County Express (1977).

Budget Buy #1:

Urban Pipeline Brushed Flannel Button-Down Shirt in yellow plaid cotton/polyester from Kohl’s

Kohl’s
Urban Pipeline Brushed Flannel Shirt

Price: $18.69 (discounted from $36.00)

Color: Yellow Plaid

Material: 80% cotton, 20% polyester

Average customer rating: 4.3/5 stars (6 reviews)

Do I own it? Yes, and it’s definitely comfortable!

With a price like that, how could I pass it up? The pattern isn’t exactly a MacLeod Tartan (nor does it claim to be), and the 20% polyester blend cheapens the quality below what 100% cotton would feel, but if you’re looking to take this basic yellow plaid flannel for a spin, you could test-drive much worse entry-level models than this affordable workhorse.

Budget Buy #2:

Amazon Essentials Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt in yellow plaid cotton

Amazon Essentials
Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt

Price: $18.50

Color: Yellow Plaid

Material: 100% cotton

Average customer rating: 4.6/5 stars (2,345 reviews)

Do I own it? No

Just a few bucks more for 100% cotton, the only reason I passed this up in favor of the Kohl’s shirt was that my size (large) was sold out at the time of purchase; I also liked having a second chest pocket à la Saxon. Given the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I may have to revisit once I see my size back in stock.

The Investment:

Midweight flannel shirt in yellow/black plaid from J. Crew

J. Crew
Midweight Flannel Shirt

Price: $54.50 (discounted from $89.50)

Color: Yellow Black

Material: 100% cotton

Average Customer Rating: N/A

Do I own it? No

Available in classic, slim, and tall fits, this all-cotton brushed flannel work shirt from J. Crew may be the best compromise between price and quality, even if the pattern still doesn’t quite match the traditional MacLeod tartan.

The Big Investment:

Black & Yellow Flannel Tartan Mullen Shirt from Noon Goons

Noon Goons
Black & Yellow Flannel Tartan Mullen Shirt

Price: $400

Color: Yellow Plaid

Material: 100% polyester

Average Customer Rating: 5/5 stars (2 reviews)

Do I own it? No

While still not exactly a true plaid in the Clan MacLeod tartan tradition (which has proven surprisingly difficult to find), this shirt comes surprisingly pricy for being all-polyester, though the manner in which the model wears it in some shots suggests that it could be an effective shirt-jacket with its full lining and inner pocket.


Dennis Haysbert’s Olive Work Shirt in Far From Heaven

Marketing shortcuts often equate flannel with plaid, though the soft flannel weave can look just as good—and, in some cases, better—in a solid-colored cloth, particularly in an earthier color like this forest green work shirt that Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert) wears under one of his many colorfully patterned flannel jackets in Far From Heaven. The affable gardener has already established himself as a hard worker, but this hard-wearing olive-hued two-pocket shirt reinforces his diligent reputation with its similarities to military service shirts of the era.

Dennis Haysbert in Far From Heaven (2002)

Dennis Haysbert in Far From Heaven (2002)

Budget Buy #1:

Sonoma Goods for Life Brushed Flannel Shirt from Kohl's

Sonoma Goods for Life Brushed Flannel Shirt from Kohl’s

Kohl’s
Sonoma Goods for Life Brushed Flannel Shirt

Price: $16.99 (discounted from $40)

Color: Pine Heather Solid

Material: 100% cotton flannel

Average customer rating: 4.4/5 stars (31 reviews)

Do I own it? No

Unlike the above offering from Kohl’s, this Sonoma Goods for Life shirt is made from 100% cotton at a currently unbeatable price.

Budget Buy #2:

Amazon Essentials Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Solid Flannel Shirt

Amazon Essentials Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Solid Flannel Shirt

Amazon Essentials
Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Solid Flannel Shirt
(also available in Slim Fit)

Price: $20.00

Color: Olive Heather

Material: 100% cotton flannel

Average customer rating: 4.5/5 stars (1,022 reviews)

Do I own it? No

In Amazon’s quest to offer a range of menswear staples in all shapes and shades (a necessary step in any global takeover), they wisely include these affordable and—based on the reviews—comfortable flannel shirts in a variety of colors.

Investment #1:

L.L. Bean Chamois Shirt in dark loden brushed cotton

L.L. Bean Chamois Shirt in dark loden brushed cotton

L.L. Bean
Men’s Chamois Shirt, Traditional Fit

Price: $59.95

Color: Dark Loden

Material: 100% brushed Portuguese cotton

Average Customer Rating: 4.5/5 stars (1,810 reviews)

Do I own it? No

The Maine-headquartered outfitter touts their thick chamois work shirt as a development straight from the founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, more than 90 years ago so it’s no stretch to imagine that a rugged gardener in mid-century New England would have one of these in his fall wardrobe.

Investment #2:

The Heavyweight Overshirt from Everlane

The Heavyweight Overshirt from Everlane

Everlane
The Heavyweight Overshirt

Price: $78

Color: Heathered Green

Material: 100% cotton twill

Average Customer Rating: 4.78/5 stars (401 reviews)

Do I own it? No

Branded as an overshirt though versatile enough to fit the layering needs of any chilly climate, this sharp heavyweight flannel top nearly matches all the details of Haysbert’s screen-worn shirt from the dark buttons up the placket and through each pocket flap to the masculine structure provided by the heavier twill fabric.


Rock Hudson’s Buffalo Plaid Hunting Jacket in All That Heaven Allows

Set across a New England fall into the holiday season, All That Heaven Allows offers a parade of fine flannels modeled by a robust Rock Hudson, who sports a variety of shirts, jackets, and suits all made from this rugged cloth. As landscaper-slash-Christmas tree merchant Ron Kirby, Hudson reaches his sartorial summit once the snow falls and he layers a classic buffalo-checked Woolrich hunting coat over navy blue flannel work shirts.

While it’s an arguably good look, one should be wary before accessorizing with that ear-flapped hunting cap as one of my favorite tweets from @NitrateDiva wisely poses the question asking “how Rock Hudson manages to look this good while dressed like Elmer Fudd?”

Rock Hudson as Ron Kirby in All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Toting a shotgun while clad in his hunter’s cap and buffalo plaid coat, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson) looks every bit the outdoorsman for a holiday reunion with his beloved in All That Heaven Allows (1955).

The Budget Buy:

Fleece-Lined Buffalo Plaid Flannel Coat from Runcati

Fleece-Lined Buffalo Plaid Flannel Coat from Runcati

Runcati
Fleece-Lined Buffalo Plaid Flannel Coat

Price: $31.98

Color: Red

Material: cotton and polyester

Average customer rating: 4.5/5 stars (8 reviews)

Do I own it? No

The cotton and polyester shell may not be ideal for a go-to winter work coat, but the affordability of this Runcati jacket ensures it will have a place among gents who may admire the classic rugged look of buffalo plaid outerwear without requiring the fortitude of wool.

Medium Range:

The Outdoorsman Buffalo Plaid Jacket from Legendary Whitetails

The Outdoorsman Buffalo Plaid Jacket from Legendary Whitetails

Legendary Whitetails
The Outdoorsman Buffalo Plaid Jacket

Price: $79.99

Color: Buffalo Plaid

Material: 70% wool blended with 30% synthetic fibers

Average Customer Rating: 4.7/5 stars (1,068 reviews)

Do I own it? No

Though lacking some specific details of Rock Hudson’s screen-worn hunting coat, this warm, fleece-lined Legendary Whitetails coat may be the best of all worlds with its primarily wool shell construction, well-reviewed reputation, and affordable price tag. If you like Hudson’s look but prefer the convenience of a zipper to buttons or snaps, this is the coat for you. Also available from the Legendary Whitetails website.

Cozy Sherpa-Lined Plaid Wool-Blend Shirt Jacket from Old Navy

Cozy Sherpa-Lined Plaid Wool-Blend Shirt Jacket from Old Navy

Old Navy
Cozy Sherpa-Lined Plaid Wool-Blend Shirt Jacket

Price: $79.99

Color: Red Plaid

Material: 49% wool blended with 51% synthetic fibers

Average Customer Rating: N/A

Do I own it? No

It’s got the snaps, the flaps, and the offbeat take on classic buffalo plaid, here a more shadow-checked yin to the wide-scaled yang of Hudson’s screen-worn coat. Still not quite as hard-wearing as a serious outdoorsman like Ron Kirby would regularly wear for the winter but still a  stylish and affordable alternative.

Men's Buffalo Plaid Two Pocket Hooded Shirt Jacket from Levi's

Men’s Buffalo Plaid Two Pocket Hooded Shirt Jacket from Levi’s

Levi’s
Men’s Buffalo Plaid Two Pocket Hooded Shirt Jacket

Price: up to $87.72

Color: Red Buffalo Plaid

Material: 77% polyester, 12% wool, 7% rayon, 4% acrylic

Average Customer Rating: 4.4/5 stars (19 reviews)

Do I own it? No

The weather-proofed construction may mean this is lighter on wool than we’d prefer, this Levi’s coat pays homage to Hudson’s classic coat with its snap-closure front and chest pockets while adding an attached hood for a modern modern look that may appeal to some… while turning off others.

The Investment:

Woolrich Men's Buffalo Hunting Jacket

Woolrich Men’s Buffalo Hunting Jacket

Woolrich
Men’s Buffalo Hunting Jacket

Price: $297 (discounted from $495)

Color: Red Buffalo

Material: 60% wool, 30% polyester, 10% nylon

Average Customer Rating: 5/5 stars (3 reviews)

Do I own it? No

No discussion of buffalo plaid hunting coats would be complete without reference to Woolrich, the venerated Pennsylvania brand that developed the distinctive black and red buffalo check upon the company’s inception in 1830 and remains “a symbol for Americana and workwear… one of Woolrich’s most powerful visual codes from season to season.”

Thankfully, this OG brand maintains an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to its reputable outerwear so your hunting jacket purchased in 2020 would offer the same warmth and reliability as the vintage items referenced in the current jacket’s reviews or the Woolrich coat Hudson himself sports as Ron Kirby. Thus, you’d be well-suited to pick up a shirt, jacket, or shacket (like this Buffalo Stag Over Shirt) from Woolrich when incorporating that mid-century masculinity into your winter workwear.

You can read more about the original look in my BAMF Style post.


Though different from the usual BAMF Style format, I want to reinforce that this is a completely organic post, not sponsored or promoted by any of the brands mentioned. However, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com, and I may receive commissions for certain purchases made through Amazon links.

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