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Dancing in the sheets

December 15, 2009

It’s possible that, as much time as you spend thinking about the materials and threads in your life, you’re neglecting the threads in your life in which you spend the most time.

If you’re young, you may have spent the past several years of your life on jersey sheets, sheets with cartoons, or sheets made for beds that are “extra long,” “plus” or some other nontraditional size. If you’re on your own and sleeping in your own bed under your own roof each night, it’s time to invest in quality linens. (Even if you’re not on your own, you should consider this, as long as you’re not getting rid of your bed anytime soon.)

If you’re a stranger to thread count, it’s the number of threads per inch in a sheet. The higher the count, the softer the sheet; the lower, the more coarse. Read up on this here for more explanation. Your sheets don’t need to be 1000 threads per inch, but you probably deserve something better than 100. Somewhere in the mid-hundreds is a good place for someone whose faucet doesn’t run hundred-dollar bills. Other factors to consider are the type of thread, ply, and material. Make sure they’re 100% cotton, and decide if you care if you’re getting Pima or Egyptian. Companies get tricky with the ply, and will try to tell you that a 2-ply sheet of 300 threads per inch makes a 600 TPI sheet; this is false, and there are standards that try to prevent this sort of thing, but more on this later.

When shopping for quality sheets, skip department stores or regular home stores. Go straight to TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Home Goods or Filene’s. Even then, go straight to the clearance aisle. Work your way up from there — first to the regular-priced items in discount stores, then to the clearance and sale sections of department stores, then to full-priced items. If you’ve made it there, you’ve done something wrong, because linens never need to cost you the MSRP. You’d better at least have a coupon if you’re in that upper echelon of items.

As you’re choosing a pattern or color, be Swiss and go neutral. That doesn’t mean beige or tan, but a solid color or texture will give you more longevity than a print; keep the sheets simple, and get crazy with the duvet. My last linen purchase was a plum purple sheet set with a satin striping from the clearance aisle at Home Goods; they look awesome with the rest of my linens, but the color rubs off even after washing them in hot water. Live and learn. (I’ve also got a cream-colored set of 800-TC, single-ply by Hotel Fine Linens that, if I remember correctly, were around $80 on sale at Macy’s. These have been a great success in my sleep life.)

A few places to look online are OverstockDomestic Bin and Linen Place. If you’re like me, you’ll want to make this purchase in-store so you can touch and feel the sheets before committing to a purchase, but you can do price comparisons online, or make the final purchase online (even at Amazon) once you’ve pick out a set in-store. Don’t marry yourself to a name or designer brand. When you think you’ve found The One, you should Google (or Bing, to be fair) the company before buying to check for fraudulent thread count claims. It happens. More than you’d think.

The real thrift will come in how long you keep your sheets. Quality linens that are well taken care of can last 10, 15 or 20 years. Rotating them once a week on your bed can extend the life of sheets and help them wear evenly. Get yourself something soft and durable, at a good price, then quit your job and never leave your bed.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Shannon permalink*
    December 16, 2009 12:02 pm

    OK this made me seriously psyched to finally move to atl, get a bed bigger than a twin and buy nice sheets. Thanks so much for the tips!

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