Uniqlo’s Flannels

I picked up a couple of Uniqlo flannels last month and have been happily surprised by how often I turn to them for casual wear. They’re admittedly pretty simple — no high-end materials or unique detailing — but they come at fraction of the price that designer labels are charging these days. Plus, these are plaid flannel shirts — the kind of staple that was part of the thrifted ’90s grunge look, which designers such as Hedi Slimane have been ripping off and repackaging for 100x the price. The cheap versions are arguably the originals. 

Like most non-workwear flannels, these are thin, which makes them great for layering. You can wear one open, layered over a t-shirt, with the sleeves rolled up so you don’t look too stuffy. When the weather gets cold, you can also throw on a jacket. I like field jackets in this case, but leather ones also work well. This makes for a nice, comfortable look, without any of the bulkiness that a thicker flannel might bring. 

If you wear a flannel shirt on its own, however, then you might want to add what Jesse sometimes calls a "point of distinction." That means something to set what you’re wearing apart, so it doesn’t look too simple or boring. For me, this would be a pair of really beat-up jeans and some tan jodhpur boots, which is a type of strapped ankle boot similar to the Chelsea. I also like wearing my flannels with a mid-length steerhide wallet and some jewelry I bought from Self Edge

At full retail, Uniqlo’s flannels cost $30, but you can sometimes find them on sale for $20 (which is how much I paid for mine). For something more affordable, try visiting your local thrift storeAfter all, many of those higher-end flannels are just inspired by thrift store finds. In a recent talk with The Fashion Law, Courtney Love said of the Saint Laurent FW13 collection: “It reminds me of Value Village. Real grunge. I love that rich ladies are going to pay a fortune to look like we used to look when we had nothing.

Pictured above: Green field jacket from Aspesi; white pocket t-shirt from Barns, red plaid flannel shirt from Uniqlo; straight legged jeans from 3sixteen; tan jodhpur boots from Ralph Lauren; mid-length wallet from The Flat Head; bracelet and necklace from Self Edge; and horsehide Clint Stitch belt from Don’t Mourn Organize.

The Wallet I Use with Jeans

Since my post on henleys yesterday, a few readers emailed me asking for details on the leather wallet shown in my picture. That’s a mid-length, steerhide wallet made by the Japanese brand Flat Head. It’s thick and heavy, and over-the-top in terms of durability. It’s also the only wallet I’ll use with jeans, as my regular card case and money clip combination feels too insubstantial when I’m wearing a rugged jacket.

High-End Japanese Models

The Flat Head’s wallet is admittedly ridiculously expensive. Part of this is due to the materials and construction (it has a sterling silver ring, and has been handsewn with waxed cow tendon thread); part of it is the cost of labor in Japan (where it was made); and part of it is simply a result of the high-demand for Flat Head products in the hardcore denim-enthusiast community. If you’re not bothered by the price, you can find similarly nice pieces at Self Edge and Blue in Green. They have stuff made by Flat Head, as well as other high-end Japanese brands, such as Kawatako, Studio D’Artisan, and Red Moon.

More Affordable Options

There are a number of more affordable options, however, from companies based the other parts of East Asia and the United States. These include Angelos Leather, Obbi Good Label, Tenjin Works, PCKY, Voyej, Hollows Leather, and Tanner Goods. I’ve also seen some really nice models made by Don’t Mourn Organize. The man behind that operation, Scott, doesn’t list his mid-length and long-wallets on his website, but I assume they can still be made. Almost everything he sells is made-to-order. Lastly, you can search eBay for “Redmoon style wallet,” which should pull up a few models. I have no experience with those, but I did buy my braided leather chain, which you see above, from eBay a few years ago (it cost something like twenty-five bucks). There are still similar ones on eBay

Getting That Patina

If you buy one, you have the option of getting something already dyed, or something that comes in a tan “natural” color. The second will darken into that golden, honey brown you see above. All that’s really required is about a year or so of regular use. Sunlight will darken the leather, so if you want to speed up the process, you can leave the wallet out for a couple of days in direct sunlight. To get a truly nice patina, however, you’ll need to use it. Sticking it in your back pockets, for example, will give the leather a more natural, broken-in look, and transfer some of the indigo from your jeans to your wallet’s leather and threads. I also routinely treat mine with Obneauf’s Heavy Duty LP. Some say the hue of your wallet’s patina is determined by the kind of leather treatment you choose, while others say this is nonsense. I have no opinion on it either way, but you can browse threads like this one at Superfuture to see how some people’s leather products have aged. I have noticed, for what it’s worth, that some Flat Head wallets have developed a slightly reddish patina, while mine is more golden-brown.

Either way, if you purchase something of quality, and give it some good, hard, honest use, you’re sure to get something beautiful at the end. Just don’t let a chiropractor see you with one, as sitting on such a bulky thing all day is apparently bad for your health.