Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sealing the Sleep Deal: Sheets

id you get yourself an awesome mattress? Nice. Now scrap those $40 sheets and let's talk about how to accessorize it properly.



Don't get me wrong, not that long ago I balked at the thought of replacing my single, thread-bare, pilled set of sheets.  The holes were barely noticeable, and who the hell cares about sheets anyway?  But with the new mattress, those weren't going to do, and it was time to do my research.

How you should feel about your sheets
Researching sheets is as stupidly complicated as choosing a mattress.  The easy part (at least for me) was choosing a material.  I think silk is gross.  Flannel is nice, about half the year.  Anything that's not a natural fibre - gone.  Linen is interesting (yes, they make linen sheets) but it's tough enough keeping my pants reasonably pressed.  That leaves cotton, which I love.

Next, you have to deal with thread count.  Thread count, the number threads per square inch, is the latest way that sheet manufacturers are trying to sell you sheets.  The more threads per square inch, the softer the sheets (must) be, and the higher the price you (should) pay.  But there's a catch, as always.  The sheet manufacturers, in an endless competition to outdo one another, have gamed the system a bit.  If the threads are two ply, they can double the advertised thread count.  The National Textile Associate (NTA), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been fighting over this for a few years now.  Best advice:  Be suspicious of thread counts higher than 500.

Some big names in sheets include Pratesi, Frette, SFERRA, Schlossberg, Zimmer + Rhode, and more.  Prices can be north of $1200 or $1400 for a sheet set.  They're nice, but you're paying more for the name or the design than you are for the quality or feel of the sheets.  Does a $700 sheet feel better than a $500 sheet?  Or an $400 sheet?  I doubt it.  To tap into my grade school math:  What is the point of diminishing returns?  The point where top quality meets value?  Answer:  Thomas Lee Ltd.

I first heard of Thomas Lee when I saw their sheets featured on OneKingsLane (flash sale site).  As is sometimes the case, the price of the sheets purchased direct from Thomas Lee was the same as that on the flash sale site, except you didn't have to wait 2 weeks to get them or pay for shipping.  (A hint for the peeps at OneKingsLane).  Thomas Lee offers 500 (actual) thread count sheets woven from American Pima Cotton.  I'm not sure when the Egyptians thought they cornered the cotton market, but they lose when compared with American cotton.  The ring spun weave makes for the softest anywhere.  At $189 for a queen-sized sheet set (two sheets, two pillowcases), you'll probably sleep better than the people with the $700 sheets.  For an extra thrill, put two or three bottom sheets on your mattress - it feels wonderful and protects your mattress more.

--A

American Pima Cotton

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