Three Things To Consider When Buying A Buffalo Plaid Shirt

Stylish and functional, the buffalo plaid shirt is a clothing fixture that says “outdoors.”

Man in a field taking photos
A good plaid shirt never goes out of style when you're in the outdoors.Allef Vinicius via Unsplash

With likely origins dating back to the 1800s in Scotland, the buffalo plaid shirt might not be uniquely American, but its popularity here would suggest otherwise. This style of plaid is said to originally have been brought to America in the form of warm blankets, and was later popularized in upper garments by Woolrich. Buffalo plaid consists of two different colored yarns woven in stripes to create large intersecting blocks. And while many such shirts might look similar, all buffalo plaid shirts are not created equal. To make a good selection when shopping for a buffalo plaid shirt, consider three important factors—the material from which the shirt is made, the style of the shirt and the color combination.

Material

Red and black Wrangler plaid shirt
This buffalo plaid shirt is made of 100 percent polyester.Amazon

Early buffalo plaid shirts were constructed of cotton flannel, and that style remains popular today. Flannel is warm, soft, easy to wash and comfortable—everything you need in an outdoor shirt. But other materials are also popular. Wool buffalo plaid shirts have been popular with hunters for many decades, especially in the woods of the northeastern United States. While not always as comfortable as cotton without wearing an undershirt, wool plaid shirts perform better than cotton when wet, so are often the top choice when going out in inclement weather. Shirts made of wool blended with nylon or polyester are also very popular, often more comfortable than 100 percent wool shirts and also excellent in wet conditions. Still other buffalo plaid shirts are made completely from synthetic materials like polyester.

Style

Red and black Amazon Basics plaid shirt
This 100 percent cotton buffalo plaid shirt features a button-down collar and is tapered through the waist for a tailored look.Amazon

Buffalo plaid shirts are available in a variety of styles, and one decision to make is buttons or snaps. Snaps aren't as popular as they were 30 years ago but are still common and seen by many wearers as more "western." Buttons are generally considered more "outdoorsy" and less "western." Another style choice is collar style. Button-down collars are a little more formal and seen as less casual wear, while collars sans buttons are more casual and more common for outdoor recreational purposes. Whether you choose a shirt that is lined or unlined is also a style consideration, as well as a thermal one. Shirts lined with thermal material are a little more outdoorsy looking and also warmer for use in very cold conditions.

Color

Grey and black plaid shirt
This buffalo plaid shirt is available in a dozen different color combinations.Amazon

While the original buffalo plaid shirt was red and black—and that combination is still extremely popular today—many other color combinations are available. Black and gray is a popular combination, as is black/blue, black/green, black/white and even black/yellow. Color combinations featuring white are also very popular, especially white/black and white/blue. In the end, choosing a color is largely a matter of personal preference.