I’m a very sweaty sleeper, which is why I prefer to sleep in linen sheets and bedding year-round. Thanks to a cocktail of rotating SSRIs and general anxiety and clamminess, I almost never wake up dry. If I ever have a guy sleep over, I wake up in a panic thinking I’ve peed the bed, only to sigh with relief that no, I’ve only perspired so much overnight that it only feels damp.
I first discovered linen sheets a few summers ago, and the breathability of the bedding, along with the luxe fancy feel has been the only bedding I keep in rotation. Not only do linen sheets exude a chic, “I don’t even care, but it just so happens that my life is so together” vibe, but they’re also a game-changer for sweaty sleepers like me. It’s much harder to feel clammy under linen sheets, and I can definitely tell that they feel fresher for longer than cotton sheets.
-Definitely more breathable, and you feel like your sheets stay fresher for longer. If you love climbing into a freshly laundered, made bed, linen sheets let you stretch out that honeymoon period for like four days instead of just one night.
Of course, if you’ve looked into linen sheets, you’ll know that they’re pretty expensive. The cost of going from cotton to linen is definitely the biggest concern when it comes to making the leap, as linen sheets can be prohibitively expensive compared to your run of the mill cotton or jersey sheets.
Why? It all has to do with the soil. “Flax, which linen is woven from, requires a very particular soil to flourish in and is less abundant than cotton, which makes it a lot more expensive to make," says Vicki Fulop, Co-Founder and CCO of Brooklinen. That's why you can get cotton bedding for as cheap as $20, but linen is always at least $100.
Because linen sheets ARE such an investment, and the price can vary wildly, I decided to test out six of the most popular linen bedding companies and see how they stacked up against each other. Full disclosure: I didn’t pay for any of these sheets below, though I have paid for linen bed sheets and duvets in the past, just on a much more piecemeal frequency and never enough to judge brand vs brand.
The Oldest Game in Town: Linoto
Linoto has been around since 2007 and has kind of gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to trendy linen bedding start-ups. They def weren’t on my shortlist when I thought of bedding companies to hit up, but after reading a glowing review of their ~heirloom quality~ sheets in NYMag, I knew I had to try them.
I very much like and appreciate the company’s story and background. They were started in the garment district of NYC, are now run in upstate NY, still run by the same six employees, and it’s a small enough operation that if you call customer service, you talk to Jason, the founder, who is willing to answer your inane questions and gently explain lots of linfo (lol, sorry). They also have all their sheets made in the US.
They also have SO MANY COLORS. LIKE EVERY COLOR IMAGINABLE. And you can also customize the depth of your mattress (you don’t have to pay extra if you have a deeper mattress!), the kind of pillow slip closure you want, etc. It’s also cool, because their pricing varies based on color, so if you reallllllly want to test out their quality but are willing to compromise with a not-so-your-favorite color, you might be able to save up to $40. With a lot of the other linen startups, colors are so limited that you don’t save any money by choosing your second or third option.
The good: These just FEEL rich. When I first heard of Linoto’s pricing, I was like, “we’ll see” but I feel like an idiot because right out of the box, I knew I had to eat crow. The sheets come wrapped in parchment paper with twine (as opposed to plastic baggies, like many other companies) and were filled with quality details, like the buttons on the duvet matching the color of the dye, exactly. I’ve slept on a total of seven linen sheet sets over the past two years (both gifted and ones I’ve spent my own money on) and I’ve never seen matching colored buttons? It was a really nice touch that made me feel like, “oops, you’re right, you do get what you pay for.”
When I read in NYMag that these were “heirloom” quality, I also didn’t really know what that meant, since I went from sleeping on Ikea sheets to suddenly feeling class anxiety and needing to only sleep on linen 365 days a year. But Linoto sheets feel too precious to give away to friends or to use every day (although, trust me, I will be using these daily). My previous standard of fancy linen was Parachute, but even that feels stiff and a bit crunchy compared to Linoto.
The bad: They’re a bit stiffer than a lot of the other brands I tried, but after two years of sleeping on linen sheets, I don’t count this as a long term con. In fact, it’s been my experience that some brands with ULTRA soft linen sheets out the gate like Brooklinen, become kind of annoying to wash and use with time because they produce HELLLLLLLLLLA LINT and you can def wear through those uber-softies quicker. Like my dog going HAM on a Benebone in one spot will cause a bit of baldness on Brooklinen sheets, whereas I don’t see that happening with Linoto.
My purple Magic Linen sheets and mustard Brooklinen sheets (gifted after the initial publication of this piece) are gorgeous and make my bedroom so colorful, but the lint is a huge problem. I am constantly plucking tons of bright yellow lint fuzzies off my black clothes, and the lint trap after I wash the purple sheets is always bright purple — despite the fact that I’ve definitely washed both sets more than the 5-10 times where you normally encounter initial lint shedding. After sleeping in Linoto for a week and rolling a lint roller over them, I can already tell these are going to be my most lint-less sheets. How come some linen is so linty? Jason explained to me over the phone that the longer the fiber, the less likely to have laundry shedding and lint.
Pricing: If you were to buy all the items I tested (fitted sheet, two pillowcases, and a duvet cover), it'd cost you $448. Pretty expensive, though you do get what you pay for.
The Kickstarter Newbie: Sijo
Sijo used to be called Olive Wren and started out as a Kickstarter project in 2018. They’ve since rebranded as Sijo and are focused on sleepytime home things like bedding, candles, pajamas, tea, and bath and body stuff.
The brand makes French linen sheets and Bamboo-Lycell, and it’s hard not to love them as a company as they donate a percentage of all sales to the Joyful Heart Foundation to help sexual assault and domestic violence survivors heal. Their fabric is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Certified, meaning they pass the “highest criterion of testing for harmful chemicals and synthetics.”
They use French linen and their factory is in Shanghai, China. Their factory also produces for other “prestigious international brands” according to their Kickstarter page. This could be a bonus (they have the experience and clout of working with other brands) and also a detriment (it’s more difficult to guarantee ethical labor practices if the factory is not owned itself by Sijo.)
The good: I liked the corner snap buttons (which I didn't see in any of the other brands I tested and felt like such a game-changer) and the duvet closure felt very well-thought out and hidden. You really couldn’t see the buttons on the butt of the duvet cover (unlike Magic Linen, where it’s just like, the bottom of the blankie is dotted in buttons), but the oversized material got on my nerves. The sheets were also super soft from the get-go, which is awesome in the short term, but can lead to more lint when you wash and means it’s not so much built to go from generation-to-generation.
The bad: I was surprised that this was one of the companies with a dedicated ‘full’ size in fitted sheets. The fitted sheet was pretty big and definitely bunched up a lot after a few days wear. I also can’t staaaaaaand combo full/queen duvet covers. It’s so much material to kick around, you can never achieve optimal fluff, and it’s just annoying to wash extra material that already annoys you.
Pricing: $296 gets you a “bundle” aka a fitted sheet, two pillowcases, and a duvet cover. If you want a flat sheet (that's an option you can pick when customizing your options on checkout), it'll be $368. The non-flat sheet option is legit cheap AF, and there's free U.S. shipping!
The Bedding Start-Up: Brooklinen
I tried these first, and they set the bar pretty high. I'd seen Brooklinen's ads all over the subway for months, and after finally breaking down and becoming a person who Actively Cares About Their Bedding, I knew I had to try them out.
The good: Super soft right out the gate. These sheets were by far the softest and airiest. I'd previously dabbled with a West Elm linen duvet a few years ago and wasn't blown away by the experience. Going from that to Brooklinen was a ride.
The bad: Not a ton of colors or patterns. The cream stripe option for the duvet is chicer than expected, but it'd be nice to have other alternatives. If you really did fall in love with these, it's annoying not to have another color set to mix it up.
Pricing: The "Hardcore Sheet Set" comes with one flat sheet, a fitted option, four pillowcases, and a duvet cover for $423. Shipping is free if you sign up for their e-mails; otherwise, expect to pay $7-$10.
The Household Staple: West Elm
Everyone knows West Elm as the aspirational home decor store you age into after IKEA particleboard hell. Its stuff is pricey enough to seem fancy, and the brand adds inventory so frequently that it's hard not to find yourself browsing the site every few weeks.
The good: West Elm linen felt more tightly-knit and less breathable than other brands. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though, since it made the sheets feel smoother.
Because West Elm offers more than just bedding and textiles, its sheet inventory—for example, its color selection and patterns—changes frequently throughout the year. Last year, I bought a blush-colored duvet cover from the brand, and it remains my go-to ~fancy~ bedding for whenever I want to impress guests or take a photo of my room or whatever. Although that shade has been discontinued, it's definitely worth checking back and seeing what other options have been added.
The bad: Definitely not as breathable as the other brands. Despite being 100 percent Belgian flax, these felt the most cotton-like of all the sheets I tried. There also was no flap on the pillowcases to hide the side of your pillow, a feature I'd expect for the price I was paying.
Pricing: A full sheet set (two pillowcases, a flat sheet, and a fitted sheet) is $219. The full-size duvet cover is $249 for a total of $468, not including shipping (which is normally 10 percent of your purchase subtotal). You usually can poke around and find coupons or sales here and there for West Elm, but in a worst-case scenario, expect to pay at least $514.80 for this set.
The Status Brand: Parachute
I wanted to try Parachute's bedding after reading other rave reviews online. It's also very startup-y, like Brooklinen, but the aesthetic is a tad more elevated. Where Brooklinen has models jumping all over the bed, Parachute is more aligned with the "coffee and the newspaper in bed" ethos.
The good: I tested these last and thought I'd ~tried them all~ by that point, but boy was I wrong. The bedding felt crisp and cool to the touch. This whole time I thought softness was king so I was surprised by how much I liked them. Don't get me wrong—they certainly weren't stiff. Instead, they felt like crawling into a freshly-made hotel bed. That crisp feeling also meant that on day three, they still felt freshly laundered.
The bad: The full-size duvet cover seemed really large. Even with all corners tied and attached, I found my blanket bunching up at the bottom of the cover like a giant Ziploc bag of fluff in the morning, which was a pain in the ass.
Pricing: A full set (without top sheet) is $169. Add in the duvet cover at $250, and the total comes to $419. If you wanted a top sheet, the total clocks in at $529. There's free U.S. shipping and a 60-day trial, but trust me, you won't want to return these.
The Smaller Specialty Brand: Magic Linen
I had the highest hopes for Magic Linen. The company offers everything from bed sheets to clothing to baby blankets made from linen, so I figured they must really know their stuff.
The good: By far the most color, pattern, and size options. Aside from solids, you can buy striped and pom-pom-trimmed bedding, too. Magic Linen also has specific sizing for deep vs. standard mattresses—so if you're like me and have a thick-ass Costcopedic memory foam on top of a regs mattress, this is great solution for ensuring your bed will be completely covered.
This brand seemed like the most high-end experience for your buck. The wooden buttons say "Magic Linen" on them, and the fact that the line has so many size options is clutch. Of all the brands I tried, Magic Linen and Linoto were the only one with a dedicated full-size duvet cover instead of a combo full/queen. The difference in making the bed and sleep quality (less material to kick around at night) was definitely worth noting. Ironically, it was also the cheapest per piece!
The bad: They were heavier than I'd like for easy, breezy bedding. I'd be curious as to how these hold up in the wintertime. While linen is poppin' in the summer, it's also supposedly temperature-regulating for the winter as well.
Pricing: For the fitted sheet (size "deep") at $120, two standard pillows ($25 each), and a duvet cover ($153), the total cost is $323. Full-size top sheets are also available for $99. Magic Linen ships from outside the US, so delivery isn't free like it is with some of the other brands, but even with the fastest and most expensive shipping option at $29, the total would be $352—still significantly less expensive than many other options.
If you can afford it, I can't recommend Linoto enough. Everything just fit right. Sijo was also a surprising steal with really nice color options and a price point that's hard to beat. If it's a status set you're after, go with Brooklinen for airier sheets and Parachute for crisper bedding.
Otherwise, I'd recommend Magic Linen. It offers the most sizes and colors and is the best priced. The pieces are made-to-order, taking anywhere from 3-14 days to create and ship, but if you're willing to wait a bit and save some money, it's a great option. West Elm is a little pricier, but if you're after coordination and want your West Elm pillows to match your bedding scheme, that brand is for you.
You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to linen—after this experiment I don't think I'll be going back to regs cotton sheets anytime soon.
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