The perfect dinner napkin can add a proper pop of color to an all-white table or a classy touch to a first apartment dinner party, but it must always be durable enough so your not freaking out every time anyone needs to wipe their mouth. To find that perfect middle ground, we spoke with 11 interior designers and experts (like we’ve done with the best drinking glasses and the best silverware before) about the stuff they buy for their clients and use for themselves at home.
“I once met Kim Seybert when we were on a design jury and have been a big fan of her napkins and tabletop items since then. I love her attention to detail, along with unique color and fabric combinations, which always create a chic, whimsical look on my table.” — Mario Nievera, interior designer, Nievera Williams Design
“The best dinner napkins by far are Le Jacquard Français. Not only are they beautifully made, gorgeously designed, and able to stand alone as the statement piece in your tablescape, but they also last through more washings and wear than you can imagine. The color palette of their collections is brilliant as well.” — Darcy Fogg, former wedding planner and caterer, current lifestyle blogger
“I use these all the time. You can bleach them and they are a generous size. Perfect for any and every occasion.” — Nate Berkus, designer and author
“I love keeping it classic with linen hemstitch, but kicking things up by using bold, bright colors. Sferra has beautiful, crisp linen in gorgeous, saturated colors that add pop to classic white place settings, or mixed with colored dinnerware for graphic color blocking. Linen is known to have natural antibacterial properties and has a wonderful, crisp hand. For a more playful setting, I love this colorful wildflower option, from local San Francisco painter Jen Garrido.” — Anne Wilkinson, principle, Bamo
“MyDrap makes linen cocktail napkins (as well as dinner napkins and place mats) on a roll, pulled off as if they were paper towels (or toilet paper). Instead of having a stack of napkins that needs to be spread out in an attractive fashion and then wrestled with to gingerly pick just one, you just simply tear each napkin off. The colors are elegant: I have an essentially black-and-white house, so I tend to go for the black ones. But the navy and red are excellent; an ink-navy and a blood-red are distinctive and chic. They are washable for a few goes.” — Tonne Goodman, fashion director, Vogue
“I like the indigo stripes at CB2 because of the way they’re handmade by artisans in India. Each design is unique because Indigo is a very traditional method, and the result is always unexpected. Stripes are carved on a stamp, and then the fabric is immersed in the indigo bath. So the result is never the same. They make a great talking point or fun fact over your Sunday brunch.” — Emmanuelle Bernard, interior designer, L’Appartement Store
“D. Porthault and E. Braun are my go-to for all things luxury linen, and I especially love their embroidered napkins. I always change the design and color from season to season, and I love a monogrammed napkin, which adds that personal touch. I use them during cocktail hour, and the formal sized dinner napkins as a beautiful accent to a dinner party with friends and family. And of course, the AERIN by Williams Sonoma Linen Napkins are perfect for summer entertaining. I love using blue in a table.” — Aerin Lauder, founder, AERIN
“My go-to are vintage napkins, especially a simple white napkin with lace details. I have a pretty large collection of vintage napkins that I mix and match with my table settings. I have a set from my great-grandmother that I usually pair with our Mud Cloth Tablecloth. I love to pair bright, solid, contrasting color napkins with our Otomí table linens. For example, our blue Otomí tablecloth would look spectacular with these bright-lilac napkins by Emilia.” —Christina Bryant, founder, St. Frank
“I’m big fan of Walter G. fabrics for their batik-type feel and depth. As much as I would love to own a pillow in every one of their fabric patterns, the napkins give me a nice fix. They’re the perfect addition to clean white plates.” — Annsley McAleer, interior designer, Annsley Interiors
“I’m a big fan of Julia B. Linens. Their dinner napkins are custom handmade-to-order and offer an endless array of design possibilities. They make creating a distinctive table setting easy.” — Michael Devine, textile designer
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