The Best Linen Bed Sheets: Brooklinen, Parachute & More 2021 | The Strategist

2021.07.02 20:46

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testing testing Updated Mar. 9, 2021

We Slept on Lots of Linen Sheets and Found Ones for Every Type of Sleeper

By The Editors Excellent sheets, by Morrow Soft Goods. Photo: Morrow

Over the past couple of years, Strategist editors have developed a fixation with linen sheets . New and must-try brands keep coming to our attention, especially in the direct-to-consumer space — even Casper got into the game for a while, and although it’s since dropped out, the boom mostly continues. Other mattress start-ups, including Tuft & Needle and Saatva, have launched linen sheets in the past couple of years alongside more artisanal brands like the sustainability-focused Citizenry and the U.K.-based Piglet. In total, we’ve now had the chance to collectively test over 20 versions of this old-world bedding, with four new ones added to this, the latest update of the post.

Of course, the universal draw of linen, which is traditionally derived from the flax plant, is its inherent temperature regulation, keeping you sweat-free in the summer and cocooned when it’s cooler. But beyond this general quality, we also gained an appreciation for how nuanced the material can be — some iterations stand out for their softness, others for their heirloom-quality heft, others for simply coming in a unique range of colors rather than just the traditional shabby-chic neutrals. We’ve grouped them accordingly here, with some of the options in each category being much splurgier than others (although linen, on the whole, tends to be a bigger, longer-term investment than, say, your typical percale cotton). Speaking of cost, you’ll see that most prices listed are for a full-size set that includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases. A few brands, however, offer dimensions smaller than full; others only for queen beds and up; and some only sell by the piece. (In other words: If you like any brand below, just be sure to check its website for all available sizes.) And if buying à la carte seems strange when it comes to sheets, we actually learned it has its merits — sometimes just a single layer of linen atop or below your body is all you need to transform your night.

If you want linen sheets that are especially soft

Snowe Linen Sheet Set, Full $300

These sheets are the softest I’ve ever slept on. Even after being put through a harsh industrial laundromat dryer, they roll out of there just as ripply, breezy, and structurally sound as they day I first unfurled them. They appear built to last, with all the virtues that everyone praises about linen: substantial enough to use on their own, a breathable solution for sweaty summer nights, a warming cocoon for when it gets cold. (Snowe is one of those start-ups that work with European factories to source the same materials as high-end names and sell them for less.) A note about sizing: It is generous. If you have one of those super-tall mattresses, it won’t be an issue — but I do find myself cinching up excess fabric underneath the mattress so they feel more taut. Snowe’s palette is also limited to just three shades: white, gray, and pale blue. The final verdict, though — considering they’re only a smidge pricier than your West Elms and Brooklinens — is that if you’re into linen feeling soft, buy these. —Simone Kitchens, senior editor

$300 at Snowe Buy Morrow Classic Sheet Set, Full $275

These are phenomenal; soft in a downy way. As Jean Godfrey-June told us, “I’ve never felt anything so comfortable in my life.” I got them in greige, and that was so much nicer than other regular cream-colored sheets I’ve slept on in the past. I like that flaxen, undyed look. I also really like that they come in just one full set with the fitted and top sheets and pillowcases, because a lot of other places sell the sheets piecemeal. (Then again, my best friend hates top sheets, so for her to buy linen sheets from one of these other companies and save almost $100 on the top sheet is a deal.) Anyway, I love a top sheet and give props to Morrow for selling one sack of linens — exquisite linens —one and done. —Margaret Rhodes, former senior editor

$275 at Morrow Soft Goods Buy Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set, Full $269 now 10% off $242

Brooklinen made me fall in love with linen sheets. They’re so light, it’s almost like you don’t feel them. They just brush against you when you sleep. If you’ve only used cotton or whatever, you can’t even compare it to the feel of these linen sheets; it’s like an angel’s kiss. They come in a range of neutrals and earthy tones including a petal pink and navy chambray; as long as you’re not looking for a bright color, buy these. —Lauren Levy, former senior staff writer

$242 at Brooklinen Buy Kassatex Linen-Bamboo Sheet Set, Queen $280 now 25% off $210

As a cheap person, I am somewhat new to linen sheets. I bought my first set from a West Elm sale last Christmas and instantly regretted the decades I waited. But I must say, now that I’ve compared the linen-cotton blend of the West Elms to the linen-bamboo of the Kassatex sheets I tried more recently, I have an even greater appreciation for this genre of fancy bedding. The bamboo in the Kassatex sheets offsets the slight crispness of linen, adding a smooth softness and making them drape over you like a gentle swaddle. And I wasn’t the only one in my family to be smitten: When I first put them on the bed, my toddler climbed up and said, “Ooooh soft,” and started rubbing her hands on them. They have a wrinkly look, which some people like and some people don’t (because of course: linen), but to me what matters most is that the fitted sheet wraps around our 14-inch-thick mattress with enough spare fabric to make making the bed easy, but not so much as to look sloppy. And unlike my West Elm linen, which would’ve been similarly priced had I not bought it on super-sale, the pillowcases are big enough to contain the pillows even after multiple washings. The sheets did pill the first couple of times in the laundry, but that hasn’t been a problem since. —Peter Martin, senior editor

$210 at Kassatex Buy with code: SUNNY25 Bella Notte Linen Flat Sheet, Queen $282 $282

I knew that linen sheets were supposed to be breathable and durable, but I did not expect them to feel so sumptuous . These were like dozing off in silk — airier than the Eileen Fisher ones I tried — but not at all flimsy. Bella Notte’s sheets have been sewn and hand-dyed to order by local makers in Northern California since 1996 — and, as I learned when my first pair of sheets were delivered to our abruptly closed office back in March, and trapped in our mailroom, this is not just marketing-speak. Before the company could send another set to my apartment, where I was sheltering in place, they first had to dye them for me. They are pricey (sold by the piece, they’re $222 for the flat sheet alone), but I expect them to, as the brand claims, “stand the test of time.” Casey Lewis, former senior editor

$282 at Bella Notte Buy Primary Goods French Linen The Complete Set, Full $449 $449

Beyond the really nice weave of these sheets — they feel like a gently worn-in chambray shirt; soft and not at all scratchy — they stand out for their unique snapping system. I had to watch the video on their website twice to understand how the top sheet connects to the duvet cover, but I eventually did and it indeed makes straightening up the bed much easier: You only need to pull up and fluff the duvet each morning, and the top sheet neatly comes along with it. The main downside to the innovative design, though, is that you can’t easily toss off the duvet cover if you get warm during the night. (I should note that this wasn’t a problem for me, even though I sleep hot; I suspect this has something to do with how well linen regulates temperature.) And at $449 for a full-size sheet set (including the duvet cover), they’re not cheap. But as a lazy person, the faster bed-making has undeniable appeal. —Karen Adelson, senior writer

$449 at Primary Goods Buy Matteo Mica Linen Sheet Set, Full $485 $485

If money were not an issue, I would choose Matteo sheets above all the rest because they’re so light. They feel like a thin nothingness that’s also incredibly soft and cozy, whereas the other linen sheets I’ve tried have a heavier quality. Matteo makes the closest thing to a Status Sheet, among the brands on this list; the company has been around for a while, and the fabrics are woven in Italy and sewn in Los Angeles. It shows up in the price, though — you might want to wait for them to go on sale or put them on a registry and hope you get lucky. — L.L.

$485 at Matteo Buy

If you want linen sheets with heft

The Citizenry Stonewashed Linen Sheet Set, Full $230 $230

Launched by the global-artisan-centric brand The Citizenry in 2018, these sheets are made from stonewashed French flax linen and woven at an old family-run mill in Portugal. Out of their matching linen sack, they’re soft but lean more on the sturdy side. They also have that classic baggy look — the fitted sheet is designed for up to a 15-inch-deep mattress, which mine is not. The first few nights I tried them, they didn’t feel particularly luxurious, but my appreciation built over time; they are the coolest sheets I’ve ever slept on — this was made even more clear when I went back to my old sweat-inducing sheets while these were in the wash. Speaking of which: The description warns that they might shed after the first few launderings, which is expected with natural fibers, but I haven’t experienced that. There’s also been no pilling, and the eyelet stitching around the top sheet and pillowcase have remained perfectly intact, as has the color (I went with the rich olive). — Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

$230 at Citizenry Buy Piglet Starter Sheet Set, Full $150 $150

Piglet launched in the U.K. in 2017 with a line of stonewashed, all-French flax linen bedding that hit the United States in 2019. It’s remarkable how well my Piglet sheets have held up since I started sleeping on them back in September — gauzier than ever but not at all worn down. Regarding aesthetics, there are no eye-catching embellishments or exceptional stitching details. They are  all-white-only  and also drapey — I have a full bed, and Piglet’s sizing often starts at queen; though the fitted sheet cinches over my mattress perfectly, the top sheet hangs down to the floor. Another quirk to keep in mind: Most of the bundles don’t come with flat sheets. The  starter sheet set , for instance, just includes a fitted sheet and two pillowcases. If you’re willing to splurge, go for the  bedtime  bundle, which also mixes in some more color options, like a  deep teal  and not-too-nautical  pinstripe . — Maxine Builder, editor

$150 at Piglet Buy Saatva Linen Sheet Set, Full $275

As you might expect from a mattress startup, these Saatva linen sheets, which the eco-focused brand launched in 2020, arrived in delightful packaging: a peach-and-white box. Immediately, they felt thick in a luxurious way, which I say as someone who’s never before owned linen sheets, but who does know how flimsy the material can feel against your skin thanks to my experience with inexpensive linen dresses. The texture of the Saatva sheets, which are made from Belgian flax, did seem somewhat rough at first, but once I washed them according to the instructions (cold water on the delicate cycle, drying with the lowest heat setting), they came out airy and markedly softer than before. They were wonderfully cool to my body on some of the recent high-80s days we’ve had in New York City. Against my face, the set’s pillowcases were a touch too scratchy for me, but that’s probably because I’m used to sleeping on silk pillowcases, and for that matter, even cotton ones are too rough for me now. But from the neck down, I very much appreciated the heft. —Crystal Martin, senior editor

$275 at Saatva Buy The Company Store Legends Hotel Relaxed Linen Flat Sheet, Full $89 now 16% off $75

The Company Store, which is known for its long-lasting bedding basics, turned out to make heftier linen sheets than any of the other brands I’ve tried, including Quince (see below), which was similarly well-priced, but definitely more on the “breezy, gauzy” side of the linen spectrum. The Company Store’s sheets feel significantly more substantial (and are more cozy than crisp). After the first wash, they felt even further lived-in, and I have yet to notice any pilling or loose threads. And though they have that softness, they’re not baggy, as some other brands tend to be, which was another plus for my own personal taste — I ordered a queen size and they fit snug on my 16-inch mattress. If you like jewel tones, you’ll want to check out the ten other colors the brand offers in addition to white, like deep blue and marigold yellow, which you can mix and match, because these sheets are sold by the piece rather than in sets. — Dominique Pariso, writer

$75 at The Company Store Buy Parachute Linen Sheet Set, Queen From $169

There is a tactile-ness to good linen, which is one reason I love Parachute. And the price is right: Even though I would have bought Matteo from the jump, I wasn’t ready to spend $430 on sheets. Parachute, in my opinion, is the best all-around option, factoring the middle-of-the-road price, the substantial feel of the linen, and the cool-placid-hazy bed environment you can create with the color options — I bought the sheets in coal and the duvet cover in fog. — L.L.

From $169 at Parachute Buy Hawkins NY Simple Linen Flat Sheet, Queen $198 $198

I hadn’t considered linen sheets until I came across interior designer Tiffany Thompson’s  Instagram  story, where she convinced me that I needed them in my life — in particular, I needed a set from home-goods brand Hawkins NY, which are Thompson’s favorite. It’s easy to see why: Made from Belgian linen and then stonewashed in Portugal, they have this automatically lived-in look, soft and rumpled and ultraluxurious (this shows up in the price; $198 for the flat sheet alone). They got even softer once washed. But what I liked best about this set is that there’s so much material to work with. I have a 12-inch-thick  Allswell Luxe mattress , which means I normally spend a lot of time making and remaking my bed to keep from naked bits of mattress getting exposed, but not here; the generous amounts of fabric are easily tucked in. I got them in basic white (even though there’s a range of 17 color options), but they still managed to elevate the look of my existing, mostly white bedding, which was somewhat sterile before, but not anymore. — Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

$198 at Food52 Buy $198 at Hawkins New York Buy Rough Linen Smooth Sheet Set, Full $400 now 10% off $360

Though these sheets come prewashed, they were still fairly stiff as I took them out of their beautiful linen drawstring storage pouch with an included lavender sachet. About a week in, the sheets did soften up, but they didn’t lose their grainy texture. This company, as the name suggests, is not like other brands just doing linen sheets as part of a larger repertoire of different fabrics; their specialty is very much linen everything — linen napkins, linen curtains, linen duvet covers — all handcrafted in California. Despite the unfamiliarity of their subtle scratchiness, I did actually have an easier time falling asleep with these sheets than I do my cotton ones, with their better breathability and temperature-regulation. I can’t speak to how much softer they get with each wash, since I unfortunately had only a limited amount of time to test them before I had to leave the city to shelter in place somewhere else. But if you’re willing to invest in a break-in period, along with a higher price point relative to the other brands on this list — a full-size set usually starts at $382, though they are on sale right now — you can think of these sheets almost like a form of self-care. — Leah Muncy, junior writer

$360 at Rough Linen Buy Linoto 100% Pure Sheet Set, 14 Inch Standard Depth, Full $329

Upon unboxing these, they immediately felt heavier and more like the idea of an heirloom sheet than any other I’ve encountered. A lot of other brands do an enzyme prewash to give sheets a lived-in feel before that’s actually true — Linoto doesn’t. (They’re all made in upstate New York, and I recommend checking out Linoto’s website for a wealth of information about the mills and lack of chemicals they use.) I actually got to talk to the founder about the best ways to break in the sheets, and besides just regular washing and time, he recommends adding a little hair conditioner to the wash in lieu of fabric softener. Anyway, these have the right ratio of soothing to crisp qualities, and the sheets hold their shape. It’s hard to imagine they won’t last for ages. — M.R.

$329 at Linoto Buy Eileen Fischer Solid Washed-Linen Flat Sheet, Queen $129 $129

Imagine  being swaddled  in Eileen Fisher all through the night. The linen of these sheets is more  rough hewn  than other linen sheets I’ve felt. It has serious heft; maybe that’s because it’s pure linen made from French flax, which is said to be extra-durable. It’s almost nubby in feel, like a (very touchable, very fancy) burlap. And though I can’t speak to how they stand up to a washing machine — I don’t have one in my apartment and, due to our current circumstances, haven’t been able to properly do laundry in weeks — they do come prewashed “for an exquisite hand and ideal for comfort all year long,” which, I think, speaks to how they’ll hold up to future washes. And maybe also speaks to the price — like the Bella Notte offerings I tried, they’re sold by the piece, rather than in sets, so if you want both a flat and fitted sheet and two pillowcases, you’re going to end up toward the more expensive end of the linen-bedding realm. — C.L.

Editor’s note: Eileen Fischer’s linen sheets are currently sold out, but some of the brand’s linen pillowcases are still in stock at Garnet Hill.

$129 at Garnet Hill Buy

If you want linen sheets that come in standout colors

Sea Me Fitted Sheet, Full $110 Photo: Retailer

I wanted to try bedding from this company, which is based in Ukraine, for two reasons: (1) They sell products in absolutely beautiful colors, particularly this emerald green, and (2) the price point is a smidge lower than some other start-ups, and accessibility matters. I wasn’t able to test the actual fitted and top sheets from Sea Me, but I did get to check out the duvet cover and shams, so can comfortably, assuredly say that the hand (and body) feel of their linen is nice: sturdy, which is now the way I prefer linen. No scratchiness. I’d compare this to the other hefty sheet-makers like Linoto and Parachute. These pieces are sold separately, so those who don’t like a top sheet can skip it and save $95 (on the other hand, since shipping is $40, because Sea Me is international, it might also be wise to buy a full set and make it worth it). — M.R.

$110 at Sea Me Buy Bed Threads Pink Clay 100% Flax Linen Sheet Set, Full $230 $230

I prefer to keep things like sheets and towels simple, so I almost always opt for white. Maybe it was being stuck inside for months, or being homesick for Los Angeles, or, more likely, Instagram, but last fall I got the sudden urge to replace my white sheets with linen ones in a very specific color scheme I’ll call “desert rose.” But I didn’t want to buy a monochromatic set. Instead, I loved the idea of the duvet cover, sheets, and pillowcases all being different tones. So I embarked on a rather thorough investigation, consulting this list and comparing the cost of sheet sets versus buying things piecemeal from various brands. In researching, I came across Bed Threads, a relatively new direct-to-consumer company based in Australia that makes its sheets with 100 percent French-flax linen in a range of delicious colors (19, to be exact). Aside from those colors, what drew me to the brand is that you can buy basic bedding — a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and two pillowcases — separately for the same total price the company charges for a set of those same items. While these static prices mean you aren’t getting a discount if you buy a bundle, they also mean you don’t have to sacrifice saving money to get the exact color combination of sheets you might want. To achieve my desert rose–inspired bed, I bought two pillowcases in turmeric , a duvet cover in rust , and sheets in pink clay . Everything took a bit to arrive — it’s all coming from Australia, but shipping is free to the U.S. — and although the Bed Thread linen sheets are not as soft and luxurious-feeling as a sample set I got from Snowe, they are perfectly serviceable and have kept me cozy all winter. More importantly: My bed has never looked better, or more colorful. —Lauren Ro, writer

$230 at Bed Threads Buy Cultiver Linen Sheet Set, Queen $385 $385

Cultiver is an Australian brand that’s sort of a peer to Parachute and Brooklinen but is further along in terms of the breadth of home products they offer. It should be noted that they’re on the pricier end and only come in queen and king sizes, but they turned out to be lovely — with a softness and bagginess akin to that of Morrow (they do not run on the hearty-textured side, like Linoto and Parachute). But I think Cultiver most stands out for having lots of colors and for mixing those hues so carefully. Like, it’s one thing to sell purple linen sheets and another thing entirely to sell a berry-stained color that could somehow pass as a very interesting neutral. — M.R.

$385 at Cultiver Buy

If you want dip-your-toe-in linen sheets

Quince Belgian Linen Sheet Set, Queen $160 $280 now 43% off $160

Quince, a direct-to-consumer brand that is arguably best known for its $50 cashmere sweater , recently expanded into home goods with a new line of bedding, including linen sheets. As its cashmere suggests, the brand tries to set itself apart as a far more affordable option for fancier items than more established competitors. Its queen-size sheet set — which includes a fitted and a flat sheet, along with two pillowcases — costs $160. Parachute, by comparison, charges $169 for a queen-size fitted linen sheet and two linen pillowcases — but if you want a flat linen sheet, that price jumps to $279, or $119 more than what you’re paying for the same four things at Quince. (Quince’s linen sheet set starts at a twin; but twin and full sizes only come with one pillowcase.) After sleeping on both Quince’s and Parachute’s linen sheets, I will say the latter are definitely more substantial. So if you are a toe-dipper who is looking for heft, Quince may not be for you. But if you’re a toe-dipper who is looking for superlight linen sheets with a slightly textured weave, keep reading. The best way I can describe the sheets’ feel is this: Imagine a worn-in, gauzy linen button-down that you’d throw on in the height of July heat. I sleep hot — like window-open-in-the-middle-of-January hot — and living at home means I don’t always have control over the thermostat. While I haven’t slept on these in the height of July heat, they’ve kept me cool and cozy even when my mom cranks the temperature up to a balmy 72 degrees. Purists should know they’re available in a crisp white, but those who prefer bolder bedding will appreciate that they come in six more colors, including beige, light gray, charcoal, light blue, terra-cotta, and olive green. — Dominique Pariso, writer

$160 at Quince Buy Buffy Soft Hemp Linen Sheets $249

Bedding brand Buffy has been on The Strategist’s radar for a while now: We’re fans of both its signature comforter (which we compared to “sleeping under cotton candy”) and its lightweight Breeze comforter , a cooler option for summer. And happily, its new line of linen sheets doesn’t disappoint. Unlike most linen, which is made from flax, these sheets are woven from hemp, which Buffy claims is more environmentally friendly and durable. They certainly feel luxurious, with a comforting — but not too hefty — weight that’s reminiscent of sturdy hotel cotton sheets. As for breathability and temperature regulation, these perform just as well as high-end flax linen sheets. I tried them during a few weeks in New York’s unpredictable springtime (where it can be 30 degrees one day and 65 the next) and I never felt too hot or cold. I also didn’t get sweaty at night, which tends to happen to me with less-breathable sheets. They were soft to the touch even before washing, and after one wash they had an even smoother texture with minimal creases and wrinkles. You’ll likely prefer these if you’re going for a more put-together bedding look rather than the rumpled style that other linen sheets tend to give off. The set is just as pricey as many other linen varieties, but Buffy offers a seven-day free trial (meaning it’ll send you a set before charging your credit card) so you can give them a try before you buy, and the company has a 30-day return policy. — K.A.

$249 at Buffy Buy Tuft & Needle Linen Sheet Set, Full $200 now 10% off $180

One of the first direct-to-consumer mattress companies, Tuft & Needle launched in 2012, and, as of late 2018, they introduced linen sheets . Best I can tell, what distinguishes them is that these are sort of linen sheets for people who don’t like linen sheets — you’re getting a prewashed, non-scratchy, non-wrinkly take on the fabric. Which I realize may put off true linen aficionados, but for me, they were an ideal compromise: In the past, I’ve been disappointed by the look of other linen sets (including these Eileen Fisher ones ) — more sloppy than tastefully lived-in. These drape smoothly as percale cotton over the bed. Sleeping under them the first night, my husband said they felt “exfoliating” — but they also had the crispness of hotel bedding. Although we unfortunately left the city due to the coronavirus outbreak before I had a chance to wash them, I can say that even after several nights, the sheets still didn’t look wrinkled at all. — K.A.

$180 at Tuft & Needle Buy West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Sheet Set, Full From $180 $240 now 25% off From $180

These felt a little crisper than the other linen sheets I tried — just enough that they had a bit more of that just-washed-sheets effect. They were still softer than the regular percale Casper sheets I’ve been sleeping on but definitely had a cleaner feeling as far as linen goes. In other words, this is dip-your-toe-in linen. Also, the elastic on the fitted sheet was a lot tighter than other linen sheets I tried, so it snapped under my mattress in this very satisfying, at-attention way. I’d recommend them for the guest bed in the house. — M.R.

From $180 at West Elm Buy Coyuchi Organic Linen Chambray Sheet Set, Queen $548

Coyuchi is a California company that started in the ’90s and is focused on sustainability. Their sheets are made of organic linen, and they felt great. Sturdy, substantial, and soft enough out of the box that I’m sure they’ll get even better. Just as good as Parachute and West Elm. The top sheet also has a really subtle but really nice stitching detail on it: tiny contrast stitches across the top. Also, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon recommends this line because they hold up well over time. When the time does come for a new set, you can return your old set to Coyuchi for 15 percent off your next purchase. The company upcycles the sheets using all kinds of crazy machinery and liquefied carbon dioxide at some factory and then “refreshes” the fabrics. (I read that in Fast Company , not just on their website, so I don’t think it’s just marketing.) Coyuchi then resells the upcycled sheets (at a nice discount) on its sister website 2nd Home Renewed , which is a great way to try out Coyuchi products for less. If you’re sold on going full-force with a new set of sheets, just know that the sizing starts at queen and the investment is steep. — M.R.

$548 at Coyuchi Buy

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