Getting a new bed in a new size, meant needing to make a whole bunch of decisions at once about new sheets. Oof.
Turns out it’s not as simple as saying, “I’ll take the cotton ones, please.”
I know I’m not alone in my consternation over bedding. Indeed: at the moment of writing, I’m sitting in a café (it’s a theme!) next to a newlywed man regaling his lunch partner with stories about his wife’s failure to notice how ill-fitting their bedsheets are. (I am not making this up.) He also has a complicated-sounding concern about a blanket that “oozes” from below the duvet, but suffice to say that if the end goal is a neat and comfortable bed, it appears that the route there is less direct than it may at first seem. In the words of this gentlemen: “It doesn’t really matter. But it does.”
In hunting for bed sheets, there was a shocking lot of information to parse—and I’ll pause to say that while I’ve test-driven a whole bunch of sheets in the past month, I’m not an expert on the topic. Don’t ask me my opinion on thread-count, I beg you. (Some people swear by it; other people say it’s hogwash. Most folks agree that anything with more than a 500-thread count is false advertising.)
Besides, beyond counting threads, there’s other stuff to wonder about. Questions of weave: sateen (smooth) or percale (crisp)? Origins of the cotton: American or Egyptian? Impact on the planet: Organic or conventional? Dyed? (Batch-dyed? Garment dyed?) Bleached? Doused in something or other to make them wrinkle free? There’s the question of what sheets feel like. Do they sleep hot or cold? Do they wear well? Do they hug the mattress or slide around all loosey-goosey? (My café friend would agree this last part is particularly egregious.)
A lot of this wondering about sheets has to do with personal preference. You might like the way your legs feel jack-knifing over a freshly made bed with sateen sheets and it might make someone else’s skin crawl. You might want a bright white set. You might swear by colors.
I don’t have all the answers. But through my work in this space I have learned about a few new and not-so-new companies doing nice things with sheets (and otherwise). So here’s a roundup of options I’ve recently vetted in case you’re on the hunt or might be one day:
Coyuchi: Coyuchi is well-known for their commitment to the environment. We’ve really enjoyed their 300-Thread Count Percale Set. (They also have a range of sateen cotton and linen sheets should you prefer either.) The set we’ve used is lovely and crisp and cool. For the detail-oriented, they have elegant 7-inch wide hems on sheets and pillow cases that make them look a little more fancy than your average white sheets. They’re Fair Trade and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified, so you know that more than only being made with organic cotton, the whole supply chain is up to snuff. For these sheets, Coyuchi uses organic cotton grown and woven in India. If you’d prefer an American-grown option, their 500-Thread Count Supima Cotton set are made from American organic Supima cotton and finished in Portugal. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)
Flaneur: If luxury is what you’re after, Flaneur has your back. These are the only sateen sheets in the bunch. Full-disclosure: I typically think of myself as more of percale kind of person, but these guys are soft without being too soft. Flaneur’s Baudelaire Supima Golden-White Sheet Set isn’t dyed and the result is a beautiful golden-white color that comes from a sheet that’s not been heavily processed. These sheets also have the most beautiful finishes, including beautiful three-fold seams at the corners of the fitted sheets. The company has also made all sorts of other thoughtful choices, including using 100% DNA-tested American-grown, extra-long staple Supima cotton and biodegradable Lyocell thread. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)
Snowe: I realize this isn’t as important as the sheets themselves, but Snowe Sheets Sets come in their own neat little envelopes and you all know how much I like a neat linen closet. Like everything else sold by Snowe, the idea here is about bringing luxury sheets to homes at more affordable prices by selling direct to consumer. These 500-Thread Count percale sheets are made from long-staple Egyptian cotton and finished in Italy. (Available as sets or—newly!—as individual sheets.)
Authenticity50: I really appreciate the basic offerings of this white-sheets-only company. It’s another direct-to-consumer model specializing in Made-in-the-USA white bed sheets made from American Supima cotton. These A50 Sheet Sets sheets are truly no frills—and they shrunk a bit after washing a few times—but they’re comfy and soft and proudly made without the formaldehyde or other chemical additives used to make sheets wrinkle-free. They come with a 100-night trial period so you can make sure you really love them before committing 100%.
Parachute Home: After years of wondering what they’d be like to sleep on, I decided to try out my very first set of linen bed sheets. And I surprised even myself by deciding to add Parachute’s Linen Sheet Set in fog—a lovely light gray—to our rotation of white sheets. I’m on a big-time mission not to overheat this summer in our apartment and linen sheets seem like they might be the answer. Even better: Linen, made from flax, is a more sustainable choice than cotton raw-material wise. As for sleeping on linen? It feels so fancy! We’d done it once before—the bed at Table on Ten where we spent the night this winter was dressed in beautiful charcoal linen—but getting to slip between linen at home felt especially luxurious. (If you’re linen-averse Parachute also sells percale and sateen cotton sheets.) All Parachute Home sheets are Oeko-Tex Certified; so you can rest easy about the supply chain here, too. (Available as sets or individual sheets.)
PS: For the parents in the crowd: I’ll also let you in on the secret that we ended up opting for a waterproof mattress liner, just in case our early morning snuggler has an accident. We found this one affordably and so far, so good! It’s not loud or crinkly like some waterproof covers and it’s vinyl-free.
PPS: Some folks have questions about how fitted sheets fit on our new 10-inch mattress. The answer is beautifully! All of these sheets have elastic that goes around the whole perimeter of the mattress, so as long as we pull it tight when we first make the bed, it stays in place throughout the week!
Disclosure: All of these are sheets that I’ve had the chance to test-drive myself. They were provided free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.