sleep week

We Slept on Lots of Linen Sheets to Find the Best Ones

A bed made with linen sheets — the Strategist reviews the best linen bedsheets.
Excellent sheets, by Morrow Soft Goods. Photo: Morrow

Over the summer we tested and wrote about the best linen sheets. This particular bedding product had recently taken on a life of its own, and there were so many companies — new and old — making sheets out of flax that we felt like it deserved an analysis.

Since then, even more brands have sprung up since. So naturally, we decided to update this guide. For the first go-around, Lauren Levy and I sleep-tested sheets from several different brands including newer lines like Parachute and Brooklinen as well as beloved standbys like West Elm and Matteo. This second time around, I asked Simone Kitchens, Strat senior editor, to help me with the very taxing work of sleeping on a handful of linens from other brands that have come to our attention.

All three of us have tried Parachute, and would all agree that for the feel, the price, and the color options, it’s one of your best bets. But Lauren also loved Matteo, a company based out of Los Angeles that also does linen clothing and home goods. As for myself, I’ve found a new love: a small company called Linoto that makes the most substantial sheets I’ve tried so far. If you’re contemplating linen sheets and want details, here are the ones we endorse, starting with the newest additions up top. (Quick note: As we did with our recent mattress-buying update, we’re listing full-size sets as the starting price.)

Linoto

Margaret: For the second wave of testing, for which there were several new candidates, I decided to try some sheets from Linoto. I read about them in a few other roundups, and then saw that the sheets are actually all made in a workshop located nearby, in upstate New York. Linoto offers more product range than anyone else I’ve seen: The 100 percent linen sheet sets come in a rainbow of color choices (I tried these in the terra cotta color), and the heavier Belgian Eco and Organic Linen sets come in white and flax.

Linoto’s founder, Jason, has included a wealth of information on the site about the mills and the chemicals (or lack thereof) that Linoto uses, and I’d recommend that anyone check it out. For a quicker review, I’ll say first that upon unboxing these, they immediately felt heavier and more like this idea of an heirloom sheet than 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. I actually got to talk to Jason 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, and the sheets hold their shape after several nights of sleep. It’s hard to imagine they won’t last for ages.

Linoto 100% Pure Linen Sheet Set
$329 at Amazon

Verdict: If you want heirloom-level linen, buy.

Casper

Margaret: You ended up taking the linen sheets from Casper, which are brand new to the company as of late September. Thoughts?

Simone: I picked up a set of Parachute linen sheets and a duvet earlier this summer right around the time you and Lauren first covered linen sheets. I found them to be incredibly sturdy feeling, but also at times a little too thick, in that I’d have to kick them off if it got too hot, though softness was never really an issue. The Casper sheets also come out of the box feeling incredibly soft, as in you don’t need to wash them three times before you use them — though I did give them one pretest wash. What I noticed immediately was a super lightweight-ness (the sheets identify themselves as “Airy”) without a bit of stiffness; they come completely broken-in in a good way. It’s the kind of softness you really only get from a well-loved T-shirt; there is nothing scratchy about these sheets. The other thing is the fit — they’re just the right size, which sounds not that remarkable, but certain linen sheets can run a little baggy.

Airy Linen Sheet Set
From $230 at Casper

Verdict: If you kind of miss those jersey sheets you slept on in college, but want an upgrade, buy these.

Cultiver

Margaret: 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 homeware products they offer. I’d heard of them but will admit that I only realized we needed to check them out after seeing that Wirecutter named them the best linen sheets. And they turned out to be lovely: They are definitely on the soft side, like Morrow or Casper, rather than the hearty-textured side, like Linoto and Parachute. (I will say, they also run on the baggy side.) 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.

Cultiver Linen Sheet Set
From $365 at Cultiver

Verdict: These cost a bit more than some other sheet sets here (and only come in queen and king sizes), but they offer the widest range of non-boring neutral colors, so buy if that matches your needs.

More Strat-endorsed linen sheet sets

Margaret: You wrote about linen sheets on the Strategist first, making you the resident expert. Should we first establish why they’re so incredible?

Lauren: I used Brooklinen sheets first, and those made me fall in love with linen sheets. They feel so light, it’s almost like you don’t feel it. It’s just brushing against you when you sleep. If you’ve only used cotton or whatever, you can’t even compare it to the feel of linen sheets.

Margaret: I’ve been trying to come up with the vocabulary to describe it, and people always say it’s breathable; it’s cool to the touch. But I still don’t feel like I have the right word to describe how it feels like such an embrace.

Lauren: It’s like an angel’s kiss.

Margaret: There’s a live quality to it. You feel like you’re being whispered against. Which makes me sound like a psycho, but —

Lauren: But it’s true.

Brooklinen

Linen Core Sheet Set
From $224 at Brooklinen

Seen here in cream; Brooklinen’s sheets come in a range of neutrals including a couple of gray shades and a pale pink.

Verdict: You can’t go wrong with Brooklinen. We say buy, so long as you aren’t looking for a bright color.

Parachute

Lauren: There is a tactile-ness to good linen, which is one reason I love Parachute. If I’m picking favorites, these are one of my top two. In a weird way, the most important thing to me is the color options because if I don’t want cream sheets, then I don’t want to be limited to just that. I put aesthetics above a lot of things. So I bought Parachute sheets in coal, and have the duvet cover in fog.

Margaret: I tried Parachute as well, and was especially curious about it because I think it’s become the go-to brand. Like when Simone wanted linen sheets, her friend who’s a fashion buyer told her to just get the West Elm ones, but Simone was like, “No, I just wanted the Parachute ones.” She got the fog color, but the coal color we both have is great — there’s something so relaxing about waking up with all that darkness around you. You can get away from the light that bounces off white sheets.

Lauren: I also think the price is right on Parachute. I would have bought Matteo from the jump, but I wasn’t ready to spend $430 on sheets.

Margaret: The Parachute sheets feel a bit more like what I imagine European heirloom sheets to feel like. They have that heavy, grainy, but still really soft feeling. They felt great right out of the box, like they had been washed many times already.

Linen Sheet Set in “Fog”
From $169 at Parachute

Parachute’s “fog” color is the one if you’re interested in a cool, placid, hazy bed environment. Add a top sheet and it’s $279.

Linen Sheet Set in “Bone”
From $169 at Parachute

A nice nonwhite option, but for now it’s out of stock and available again on January 18, 2019.

Linen Sheet Set in “Coal”
From $169 at Parachute

The “coal” sheets both of us are obsessed with.

Verdict: We both think Parachute is the best all-around company, factoring the middle-of-the-road price, the substantial feel of the linen, and the color options. We say buy.

Matteo

Margaret: What about Matteo? It’s been around longer and is definitely a known go-to for seriously good linen. (Its sheets also cost considerably more.) It has 18 colors — was the color swatch on its website faithful to the color you got?

Lauren: Well, it sent white ones. But that’s a good question. It would make me nervous to choose a color online and buy them. With just the “fog,” you can tell what you’re going to get. But at the same time, 18 colors — killing it. I fell in love with the Matteo sheets because they’re so light. They feel like a thin nothingness that’s also incredibly soft and cozy, whereas the others have a heavier quality.

Linen Sheet Set
$260 at Huckberry

Heads-up: Matteo’s queen and king sets are currently on sale at Huckberry.

Verdict: Matteo makes the closest thing to a Status Sheet, among the brands on this list. It shows up in the price, though, so this sale is an especially good one. We say buy while they’re on sale — or put them on a registry and hope you get lucky.

West Elm

Lauren: I’m curious to hear about the West Elm. Multiple interior designers recommended them to me when I first did this post.

Margaret: They were across-the-board great. I thought they felt a little crisper than the others — just enough that they had a bit more of that just-washed, clean-sheet feeling. It was still better and softer than the regular percale Casper sheets I’ve been sleeping on, but for linen, it was the cleanest feeling.

Lauren: That, I think, is nice for people who are not sure if they want to go full linen. And other ones get wrinkly, so maybe you can fold these and make your bed in a more crisp way.

Margaret: It’s dip-your-toe-in linen. Maybe you get them for the guest bed in the house, so your guests don’t get full linen, but just a little. Also, the elastic on the fitted sheets was a lot tighter, so it snapped under my mattress in this very satisfying, at-attention way. Which was nice because I hate it when a sheet bags out and gets loose.

Lauren: I have a lot of opinions on the fittedness of the sheets. Every queen-size and king-size bed is the same, so they should all be fitted. I will note that the Parachute ones I have are baggy. But the Matteo ones are immediately the right fit and they stay tight.

Margaret: It’s also worth pointing out that the West Elm ones are currently on sale, so you can get a queen set for under or around $200. Plus, I don’t know, if you’re getting married and you’re registering at traditional stores instead of Zola, you can add these.

Belgian Flax Linen Sheet Set
From $179 at West Elm
Belgian Flax Linen Pillowcase (Set of 2)
$44 at West Elm

Verdict: West Elm’s options are a super-solid, entry-level linen sheet. Especially with the current (and likely recurring) sale, we say buy.

Morrow

Margaret: So I tested Morrow, or More-oh. Maybe it’s tomorrow, but without the to. Like you get in your sheets and wake up tomorrow. Anyway, these are phenomenal and they are soft in a downy way. Jean Godfrey-June recommended them as well. 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 —

Lauren: Asking if you want a top sheet? Everyone wants a top sheet! I use a top sheet, 100 percent.

Margaret: The crazy thing is, some people don’t. My best friend hates them, so for her to buy linen sheets from one of these other companies and save almost $100 on the top sheet is a deal. But I love a top sheet and give major props to Morrow for selling one sack of linens, one and done.

Lauren: To your word on greige: I’m declaring white sheets over. We can all be more creative than that.

Margaret: Your fog sheets are a great new neutral. There’s another way to keep it clean without paper white.

Lauren: I think that’s why millennial pink blew up — people just needed something different.

Heirloom French Linen Sheet Set
From $275 at Morrow
Heirloom French Linen Sheet Set
From $275 at Morrow

Yes, Lauren just declared white sheets over. But if you’re not done with them yet, here you are.

Verdict: These are exquisite, especially if you want something on the softer end of the spectrum. We say buy.

Coyuchi

Lauren: So what’s up with Coyuchi?

Margaret: Coyuchi is a California company that started in the ’90s, and I wanted to try these because they have an interesting business model. Now that there’s this new wave of interest in bedding, they’re trying to reinvent things with a subscription model so that you sign up and pay a little bit each month, and then over time you get new ones. You can pay $39 a month for a queen set of linen sheets and then get new ones every 12 months. Or $19 a month, and get new ones in 24 months. When you return them, they upcycle the old ones. They use all kinds of crazy machinery and liquefied carbon dioxide at some factory and then “refresh” the fabrics. I read that in Fast Company, not just on their website, so I don’t think it’s just marketing.

Lauren: I kind of love that.

Margaret: These felt great, too. 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. I liked that. Also, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon recommends this line because they hold up well over time.

Organic Linen Chambray Sheet Set (Queen)
From $548 at Coyuchi

Squint and you can see the stitching detail I’m so fond of.

Verdict: A super-solid choice, but an expensive set if you pay all at once. We say buy, but only if it’s because Coyuchi’s sustainability model is very key for you. Otherwise, other sheets are a better deal. We also find the Coyuchi for Life program compelling.

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We Tried and Found the Best Linen Sheets