Best sheets and towels, non-linen, non-Turkish towel edition
August 14, 2022 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I need to replace some towels and should probably get a set of sheets. I would like to shell out for sort of the best in a middle-class-boring sense. What should I buy?

I am not looking for: luxurious French sheets hand-woven by mountain crones and finished with the finest antique lace, etc, just your sort of "good department store brand from back when there were good department stores". I am probably not looking for towels from a start-up internet brand, unless you can really convince me. I am not looking for linen. I am not looking for spa/Turkish towels.

I am looking for crisp percale sheets in shades of blue or maybe stripes or dots.

I am probably looking for standard toweling towels but would possibly accept zany jacquard retro towels and raised patterns.

My current towels are a mixture of thrift store towels that are so old that the companies are out of business (holding up really well, actually, but starting to fade a bit and mismatched) and some "Target's fanciest line" towels (in terrible shape, pulls and loose threads, do not recommend) plus one surprisingly low-quality LL Bean towel. It is not lost on me that my faded striped towel from probably 1990 that I have owned for ten years is in better shape than my lightly used LL Bean towel.

My sheets are mostly secondhand percale and they are getting worn and faded.

I am prepared to pay for these but I don't want to pay good money and have a bunch of pulls and a general air of low quality. If I pay, I want to buy something that will last. What is the best?
posted by Frowner to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Lands’ End.
posted by jgirl at 5:59 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]

I have a few sets of Martha Stewart branded cotton sheets from Macy’s that are between 4 and 6 years old and only now starting to get small worn areas. The elastic on the fitted sheets is still holding strong, and they’re still quite comfy. This seems to be what’s available in terms of plain colors in cotton percale.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:14 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]

Oh, for sheets 10000% you want the Vermont Country Store's Clothesline Crisp Cotton Percale Sheet Set.

It used to be really easy to find crisp percale and now it's all but impossible. I've put a truly embarrassing amount of energy into this particular hunt (because sleep matters), and trust me, VCS is what you want. They are super-crisp and wear like iron.
posted by Susan PG at 6:16 PM on August 14 [9 favorites]

Usually I end up getting that class of "best" when I'm prioritizing things like organic/eco/fair trade/etc. In case just having a search term helps.
posted by aniola at 6:16 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

L.L. Bean's percale sheets. They're crisp, cool, and strong and substantial without being too heavy or thick. They get a lot of recommendations on here and on best-of lists for good reason.
posted by CheeseLouise at 6:19 PM on August 14 [10 favorites]

The cheap sheets at Ikea feel like sandpaper but their more expensive lines are great. Dvala is the cheapest line with acceptable texture, anything pricier than the Dvala line will be totally fine and super affordable.

Target mid-priced sheets are great too. Not the “Room Essentials” ones that are more geared to young people - the more plain looking microfibre ones marketed for middle-aged people.

Target towels can be shockingly bad. Ikea towels are way better.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:24 PM on August 14

The LL Bean percales are very satisfactory.
posted by praemunire at 6:36 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried the LL Bean, but once I met the Martha Stewart Macy's sheets I was hooked. And probably there will be a labor day/back to school white sale, which is where I pick up extra sets.

I would be tempted to throw ONE potentially sacrificial Martha Stewart towel in with that order, just to see if they are sufficiently good, if you don't want to go into Macy's.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:42 PM on August 14

Here to 3rd the LLBean sheets. I slowly switched all my sheets out to them, and they hold up fantastically in the wash.

I do like Bloomingdales Hudson Park towels, and had a friend stay who loved them so much they ordered a set during breakfast, but I dont know if they are a home run the way the LLBean sheets are in terms of value.
posted by zara at 6:43 PM on August 14

I think Target's 100% cotton sheets are great- I specifically have Opalhouse ones. Towels too. They have a variety of price points and I usually go for the mid priced towels, and have never been disappointed. I did Airbnb and bought a dozen white towels, and they are still in use 7+ years later (I stopped Airbnb about 5 years ago.) I splurged last year on some Pottery Barn sheets- the teen ones because they had cute big black and white dots, and they are some of the nicest sheets ever. Garnet Hill has great percale sheets and you can buy each component separately which I appreciate because I don't use top sheets.

And I had Martha Stewart Sheets from her K-mart days- they are most likely 23 years old, and still going at my mom's Cape cottage.
posted by momochan at 6:54 PM on August 14

I think Target's 100% cotton sheets are great

I really like the ones we have. I think at the time they were a Wirecutter recommendation, and they have held up better than any sheets I have had before.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:01 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

I just did the same thing in June and ended up purchasing percale cotton sheets from both Crate and Barrel Kids and The Company Store. For my budget, they're expensive. But they were all on sale, and I had percentages off for giving them my email, so it was do-able. The sheets are fantastic, I love them. I've used and washed them multiple times already with no issues. I've been buying towels for years from Ikea; I agree with others above, they're great. I've never had any issues with their all cotton towels. They last quite a while, and in fact I typically buy more whether I need them or not, just because I like a new design. Hope this helps!
posted by racersix6 at 7:29 PM on August 14

Seconding The Company Store. If you can catch them when they’re having a sale, it’s even better. If you’re a bathrobe person, their terry bathrobe is amazing (I’m on my second one in 15 years and it’s still fluffy).
posted by Mchelly at 7:44 PM on August 14

We recently wound up with a free set of fancy bath towels, but they did not come with washcloths. The matching washcloths were way too expensive for my blood, so I shopped around for more middle of the road ones, cost wise. The only ones I could find in a color that matched were some from Crate&Barrel. They are indeed Turkish cotton but not horribly expensive and I actually like them better than the supposedly more expensive bath towels.
posted by gudrun at 7:45 PM on August 14

I love percale sheets, and had switched all of mine to L.L. Bean’s classic cotton percale sheets a while ago, but after replacing a couple of sets recently it seems like the quality has really decreased. Each of my more recent purchases developed tears after just a couple of washes (like, big tears in the middle of the sheet, as well as fraying at the edges).

I’ve replaced them with the 300 and 400 thread count sheets from Lands’ End, and they’ve been wonderful. (The 300 is a little crisper and tends to wrinkle more than the 400, and the stitching on the hems of the pillowcases and flat sheets is different for each one, but I’d recommend either.)

Lands’ End also has really good sales fairly often—it looks like they’re currently offering 40% off $99 and up—so that’s a nice plus!
posted by Anita Bath at 9:54 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]

I got expensive LL Bean fitted sheets and they were way too deep for my mattress. I have second hand LL Bean pillow cases that are very very nice. I have a Company Store sheet set that is very nice. I have a Target threshold cotton fitted sheet that seems nice except it must be short staple cotton because my hair gets absolutely snagged in it and that part is awful and I hate it.
posted by vunder at 10:42 PM on August 14

For towels I love my towels from Restoration Hardware. I have a few that I cycle through and have been using for many years. (I realize that the word Turkish is in the title, but I think that's the cotton. These aren't the thin quick-dry towels I think of as "Turkish towels")
posted by kbuxton at 10:44 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

We upgraded to towels from Frontgate as recommended by Wirecutter and they are super soft and plush.
posted by wsquared at 12:25 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]

I got Land's End supima cotton towels for my high school graduation and my wedding, in 1993 and 1997, and they only started fraying in the last couple years (and are still soft and absorbent).
posted by metasarah at 4:16 AM on August 15

Each of my more recent purchases developed tears after just a couple of washes (like, big tears in the middle of the sheet, as well as fraying at the edges).

I had the exact same experience with the LL Bean sheets--a big tear down the middle. I really like my expensive Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet set, but quite frankly I'm not sure they're worth the $100 price difference with the Target sheets recommended by Wirecutter.
posted by Mavri at 9:50 AM on August 15

Also love the Frontgate towels they are so thick! They've held up well.
posted by radioamy at 10:31 AM on August 15

I suggest you check Wirecutter. They love LL Bean Pima percale sheets and so do I, for about 30 years. I bought some a month ago and the quality is the same as it’s always been. They last a very long time and hardly wrinkle at all if you dry them on low. I’ve only ever bought them in white; don’t know if the colors hold up well.

Wirecutter has reliable reviews of towels, too. Their favorite bath towel costs 40 bucks at Frontgate…yikes! Their budge pick is a Fieldcrest towel from J C Penney, 19 dollars.
posted by wryly at 11:10 AM on August 15

Thirding The Company Store.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:07 PM on August 15

Seconding the RH "Turkish" towels. They're decadent as hell, and priced to match, but we just replaced a set that we used literally every day for about 7 years. They just recently started showing signs of wear, but they hold up amazingly well. And I don't think they're "Turkish" in the way it seems you don't want - they're thick, plush, and sturdy.

If you can stomach the upfront cost, they're well worth the investment - particularly if you can buy two sets and rotate them, which would extend that 7 year life pretty dramatically.
posted by pdb at 4:02 PM on August 15

« Older Help me not get a brain-eating amoeba   |   What's the easiest way to sort a huge list of... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments