Do you like warmer or cooler sheets? Sheets that are all cotton, all linen or a mix of the two will keep you coolest, according to experts. Sleepers who get cold easily may prefer flannel or a cotton knit such as jersey.
Do you like a crisp, soft or fluffy feel? This is where fabric weave comes into play. If you prefer a crisp feel, opt for percale, a plain weave made from combed and carded cotton. For a softer sheet, sateen puts more yarn at the sheet surface. Microfiber tends to be very thin, but also very soft; however, microfiber may not "breathe" as well as natural fibers like cotton. Flannel sheets feel fluffier than percale or sateen because they have a fuzzy, raised "napped" finish.
Check thread count, but don't rely on it. Thread count should be just one consideration when you purchase bedding. While good bed sheets should have a minimum thread count of 200, experts say higher counts can mean significantly higher prices with only marginal benefits. Fiber quality, yarn size, finishing and construction play a more significant role in sheets' comfort and durability.
Are you picky about colors and patterns? Many sheet manufacturers offer only solids in neutrals or muted pastels. You may have better luck finding brighter colors and patterns on comforters or duvet covers that are made to coordinate with the sheets. Note that yarn-dyed fabric will generally resist fading better than printed fabric, but it will also boost the sheets' price.
Beware of the finish put on new sheets. Sheet manufacturers often apply chemicals, or sizing, to prevent shrinking and wrinkling, to add sheen, and to make the sheets look smoother and more attractive in the packaging. You should always wash sheets at least once before using. Some people like to wash their sheets multiple times to make them softer.
Know your retailer's return policy. Don't be afraid to inspect package contents before you buy to make sure you get the proper sizes and number of pieces. Many retailers will allow you to return sheets even after washing them if there are problems with fading, shrinking or feel.