Dec 23, 2023

Outerknown vs. Wax London: Choosing a Flannel Overshirt

Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

They're similar designs, but they serve completely different functions.

In mainstream menswear circles, two flannel overshirts reign supreme: Outerknown's Blanket Shirt and Wax London's Whiting Overshirt. They're similar(ish) in price, typically stocked by the same stores, and they both come in a million different colors.

Which, in turn makes the best ones harder to buy. A number of stores have a hard time keeping both brands in stock. Hell, even on their own sites, colors come and go — and fast. People really do wear them. They're easy to spot, and I recall seeing both in New York and in Pittsburgh, in Colorado and in San Francisco; wearers of both offer feedback on them to potential buyers on Reddit; and friends of mine ask me which they should buy.

Which did I ultimately suggest, you ask? Well, that depends on how you wear your overshirt.

I tried out two true size larges, because I am pretty close to a true large. Sometimes, however, the sleeves can be too short — especially if it's a product sized in the UK or Australia. That being said, the sleeves on the Wax London Whiting Overshirt were just a little bit too short. They're aren't comically so, which means I can easily still wear it without people noticing — but my feeling is that an overshirt should be a little exaggerated, a slightly oversized version of its original self, the flannel shirt.

When I lift my arms up over my head, for example, the sleeves run halfway up my arm, and with another layer underneath (i.e. a hoodie), it felt hard to get myself back down. Things bunched up, I readjusted and then I was all good again. With just a T-shirt, though, it's a nicer fit, especially so the longer you wear it. It definitely relaxes with wear.

As for Outerknown's, the sleeves are a much more suitable length, but that is, of course, just on my body. But folks with longer-than-normal arms should keep this in mind. The rest of the shirt fits well, but like a more traditional shirt: tailored through the shoulders and body and less boxy.

Outerknown's shirt also offers better mobility, and proves more comfortable in the arm pit areas, where the shirt's setting offers plenty of room for even broad shoulders. It was also longer than Wax London's, which meant it always covered the tail of your T-shirt, no matter which one you wore underneath. I'd even consider wearing an Oxford underneath — yes, stacking shirts is fine, just don't stack polos.

Wax London puts overshirt in the name. As such, it's built like a hybrid jacket, your standard Oxford. It has a straight hem, two big chest pockets, pronounced cuffs and an atypical collar capable of standing straight up. It's more substantial; it looks better with boots; it's an ultra lightweight jacket that, depending on the color, you could conceivably wear year-round: on late summer nights, crisp spring mornings, overtop a hoodie in fall and beneath a bigger coat when winter hits.

Outerknown's, on the other hand, fits more like a denim shirt, for example, than a chore coat. It's far closer to the former than it is the latter. That means it fits nicely but looks a little strange worn over anything bulkier than a long-sleeve T-shirt, whereas I could see myself wearing a sweater or even a hoodie underneath Wax London's.

The Wax London Overshirt is a thicker woven shirt with a more pronounced but also less regular pattern. Each of these, it feels (and the site actually says), differs slightly from the last, thanks to the way Wax London's fabric is cut. That gives the shirt a more substantial, hand-made sort of hand feel. The buttons are nice, too — cream colored oversized buttons that match the off-white in the shirt.

Outerknown's, on the other hand, is tidier. They run a tighter ship, and there's less irregularity in the pattern from piece to piece. That's nice for folks who like a cleaner look or plan to wear this shirt when they have to get dressed up. (I can just see it now.)

And unlike Wax London, the buttons aren't tonal, but rather a pronounced brown, but also made from nuts. They're a more traditional size, too. The collar is much more like a button-down, too, with its visible point and tabbed edge to make buttoning it up all the way more comfortable.

If you're looking for a stylish top layer to wear over a hoodie, crewneck sweatshirt or sweater, try Wax London's substantial Whiting Overshirt in whatever color you can get your hands on. There are lots, and the design wears more like a fuzzy chore coat than it does a formal button-down. That means you can get more uses out of it, no matter whether it's late summer or early fall. The brand's chunky patterns are also more pronounced, which makes the shirt look and feel more luxurious.

If you want an overshirt that's more shirt than jacket, no one will outdo Outerknown's Blanket Shirt. It's built like a solid denim or western shirt, with two flap chest pockets, a back yoke, a pointed collar and a rounded hem. Sweatshirts don't work well under here, even though they fit. It just looks a bit backward. Wear this one over a T-shirt, short- or long-sleeved — even a tank top would work.