By the 1950s, the grey flannel suit had become in the States a symbol for both Ivy League campus dress and the sartorial symbol for the Eastern Establishment Corporate Look [EECL] among men who were interested not in signalling a flamboyant or overt power, but rather showing an understated, democratic deshabille more in tune with a new world order. So much for the short history.
The great charm of flannel today is that it makes the connection between the city suit and the comfort of casual wear. Like its warm-weather brother, linen, flannel eschews the sharp, shiny, crisp look of hard-finished worsteds. It tends to rather reflect a friendly charm, a gesture of ease and low-keyed chic that so effortlessly brushes aside the painstaking effort of mainstream elegance, and replaces it with an understated insouciance.