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

A bed made with linen sheets — the Strategist reviews the best linen bedsheets.
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

If you want linen sheets with heft

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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