1. the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.
2. the most perfect embodiment of something.
Buffalo plaid is just about as American as apple pie and iconic to the Manly Man as an axe or a pick-up truck. Modern times have proven that it is just as important for the lovely lady to know exactly when to pull the world’s most perfect flannel out of her antique dresser drawer as it is for every guy to own one of these fellas. Below lives one of my favorite examples from my own antique dresser drawer, a 1940’s version of the classic and most basic red/black hunting shirt pattern.
And would you look at those buttons? The devil’s in the details, and generally where modern reproductions fall short. These buttons are good enough to eat.
Buffalo plaid was first pioneered in the late 1800’s, attributed either to Hudson’s Bay Company or Woolrich (history is fuzzy around here). The pattern was used during the westward expansion, and thereafter embraced by the logging industry in the Great Lake region. The shirts were light and allowed ease of movement, but kept our loggers very warm in the great white North. And so: The Lumberjack Shirt.
The pattern was manufactured into hats, hunting coats, flannel shirts and pants. When worn together as they often were at the time, the look was called the Pennsylvania Tuxedo. I have a honey or two in PA that I would like to see try this look on for size.
Here’s an example of another great vintage Buffalo plaid by Woolrich done in cozy, warm browns.
Here’s a piece that really tugs at my heartstrings. This old puppy of a hunting jacket is straight off a farm in western PA where it looks like it had been hanging on a barn post for decades (there are great goodies in the pockets like ancient matchbooks and great big antique nails). Circa 1940’s by Fox Knapp Distinctive Sportswear.
Worn and dirty in all the right places! Not to mention the absolutely killer, awesome, positively massive Talon zipper, for ease of use for the hard workin’ manly man in the heavy leather gloves.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they don’t make ’em like they used to, no they don’t. Notice the matching lining interior of the pockets AS IT LINES UP with the exterior pattern. This is no accident and, incidentally, brings a tear to my eye.
Fortunately for the Buffalo plaid, you CAN teach an old rag new tricks. Our good friend has been spotted all over the fall runways thanks to my old buddy Ralph.