Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The Oxford English Dictionary says the etymology is uncertain, but the 15th century origin of the word flannel likely was the Welsh gwlanen, from gwlan or wool. All of which has only a little to do with the role of the mid-gray flannel suit in the winter wardrobe, where it should have a place as soon as the wearer's life allows it to have the required two (three is better) days of rest between outings.
That rest is required because that same softer finish that makes it desirable in the first place leaves flannel prone to wrinkling somewhat easier than its worsted cousins. Though it should not be the first or second suit in a weekly rotation, the stuff functions perfectly when it is worn only once a week.
What makes the mid-gray flannel suit suit such a prize are its combination of the aforementioned softness, its warmth and its flexibility. Dressed up with a white shirt and dark four in hand, the gray flannel works in the boardroom, and is equally appropriate dressed down for suburbia with a checked shirt and wool challis necktie. Indeed, the only thing I would not recommend is wearing the gray gwlanen suit for travel as Mr. Bond is doing, at gunpoint or otherwise. That propensity to wrinkle you see.