What do Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill have in common? They all hit the hay on D Porthault bed linen. The French linen house is the OG of exquisitely made sheets in pure cotton or pure linen, often trimmed with ribbons, embroidered with monograms and printed with flowers. Jackie Kennedy’s favourite was the violets pattern, which she had recoloured in pink; Grace Kelly’s was the green-and-white lily of the valley print. They’re fabulously expensive: a queen-sized, daisy-print set is priced at upwards of £2,000. But clients are famously devotional, as Jane Borthwick, the former US president of Porthault, once affirmed: “We’ve been involved in divorce cases where there was a question of custody of the linens. Women may change their husbands, but they don’t change the sheets.”
Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Time to up your bed-linen game. Yes, there’s the fact that we typically spend around 30 years of our lives in bed. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a bed can double as a functioning office. Don’t feel bad about it. Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and Marcel Proust all wrote masterpieces from bed. Louis XIV even governed from his Versailles four-poster. Do you think he suffered threadbare, stained or shrunken sheets that have seen better days?
All of this is to say that you should get the best sheets you can afford. Will you take after Prince, who got his shut-eye in Pratesi’s black sheets? Or Cameron Diaz, who snoozes on Frette linen? Consult our guide, and optimise your shut-eye time immediately.
Which is the best bed-sheet material?
No bed sheet is superior to another, it’s more a matter of personal choice. Consider the following factors: body temperature, pyjama situation, partner or no partner, air circulation. Then there’s the question of whether you like to be wrapped up like a burrito, sheltered like a white-bread sandwich, or totally exposed – like a Smørrebrød (a Danish open rye-bread sandwich) to continue the snack analogy. Cotton is the most popular choice of sheet material, usually in a percale or sateen weave. Percale is breathable, and often crisp to the touch, making it a good choice for people who overheat at night; sateen has a smoother finish, but can often feel a little warmer. Then there is linen, which has a tendency to wrinkle and can come in rough-feel or soft-feel iterations according to your preference. The best advice? Feel the fabric before you buy. And, if you ever stay at a hotel or friend’s home where the sheets feel fantastic, make sure to find out the name of the maker.
What thread count is best for bedding?
Here’s what you need to know about thread count: it’s a marketing ploy. Denoting the number of threads per square-inch of fabric, a high thread count used to indicate better quality fabric. But it’s possible to cheat the system. If you were choosing between hemp or cotton, for instance, you’d probably rather opt for 200 thread-count cotton over 400 thread-count hemp, because it would be softer. In addition, some companies cheat the thread count by using multi-ply threads, resulting in thicker sheets that can obstruct air flow. Instead of thread count, then, look for good-quality fibres, and judge sheets on feel and appearance.
What is the best bedding to buy?
For years, the duvet has reigned supreme – but things are changing. Blame cottagecore, but a combination of single sheets, bedspreads and blankets is gaining ground once again. If you’re the kind of person who hates making the bed, you’ll probably want to stick with a duvet. But if you enjoy a more leisurely morning ritual, perhaps it’s time to start layering up your bed, adding and removing coverlets and quilts according to the season.