What’s the Difference Between $167 and $525 Linen Sheets?
An investigation in the name of better sleep.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 12:19 PM
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Intentional wrinkles and washed-out hues: There’s something about linen sheets that makes them particularly appealing, and it’s no surprise that they’re trendier than ever. Sateen is too shiny—one false step and you run the risk of your bedroom looking like a bachelor pad (and not the chic kind). Percale is more relaxed, but it doesn’t feel as special. Linen is the perfect in-between point, offering both a decadent material and a no-fuss look. At a time when we’re leaning heavily on everyday luxuries, why not make slipping into bed one such comfort? All it takes is the right sheets.
“Europeans have been sleeping on linen for a very long time, and there is some romance to their lifestyle that people want to emulate here as well,” explains Colleen Mistry, product line director at Matouk.
Looks aside, there’s a practical reason for the fabric’s recent popularity: The crinkles and creases that you might want to iron out of regular bedding are a sign that your sheets are actually getting softer. “The weathered look is now the value of the product,” says Katie Elks, director of design and product development at Brooklinen. “It gets better over time, like wine and cheese.”
Its only downfall? Where regular cotton might barely set you back $100, this variety tends to be on the pricey side. To help you decide if you want to take the plunge, we compared three buzzy brands across budgets. Pick the one that’s right for you, and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
The Affordable One
The brand: West Elm’s Belgian Flax Linen Sheet Set
The price tag: $167 for a full-size set
The production process: Made from 100 percent Belgian flax and constructed in China, West Elm’s pieces are entirely Fair Trade Certified—and, impressively for a big-box retailer, certain colorways (like the olive, rose, and yellow hues) are even made to order. “Its durability speaks to customers looking for a sustainable bedding option that will really last,” says Hannah Wickberg, a spokesperson for West Elm.
The perks: Versatility: “[The material] is great for most sleepers because it has the breathability to keep you cool in the summer months and adapts nicely to keep you warm in the winter,” explains Wickberg. Because this set comes at such a comparatively low price point, you can switch up the colors as often as you like. It’s also super-easy to care for: Wash it on a cold cycle and pop it into the dryer with the rest of your clothes. If it’s the lived-in look you’re after, try fluffing the sheets a bit before drying to release wrinkles and keep them casual.
The Midrange One
The brand: Brooklinen’s Linen Core Sheet Set
The price tag: $224 for a full-size set
The production process: Each piece is washed in small batches and individually garment-dyed, crafted from a combination of Belgian and French flax. It’s also OEKO-TEX® certified, a label that means the sheets are chemical-free. This raw material (and the labor costs associated with the extra care) go into the slightly elevated price point.
The perks: It’s all in the details: Each Brooklinen textile goes through a 12-hour wash process (yes, really) in a small, family-owned factory in Portugal. “This makes it a nicer quality than some others on the market, which can feel rough at the start and need time to break in,” explains JD Davis, the company’s manager of production. “We’ve done the breaking in for you!” If you’ve been concerned about the material’s scratchy, stiff reputation, this should take some of that worry off your plate.
The High-End One
The brand: Matouk’s Thea Collection
The price tag: $525 for a mix-and-match full-/queen-size set that includes a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and two shams
The production process: The linen is sourced from small farms in France and Belgium and finished on a hand-guided machine by artisans in Portugal—hence the embroidered dashes along each sheet’s and sham’s border. This attention to detail is reflected in the price tag. “Compared to other natural fibers, cultivating, harvesting, and loosening linen from the stalk is a much more labor-intensive process,” explains Mistry. The unprocessed yarns are stiffer and prone to breaking—it takes time to work out these kinks.
The perks: Because of Matouk’s meticulous production process, you get an extremely durable finished product that, according to Mistry, can last for decades. “It launders incredibly well, getting softer over time,” she adds. Plus, the Thea collection has been stone-washed to add an extra bit of suppleness. And for anyone looking for ultra-customization, Matouk lets you pick and choose the bedding components you want (maybe you want to go full-Euro and ditch the top sheet) and even try them out for free beforehand via samples. That way, you can rest easy with your choice.
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