It's time to address the tread count madness. Everyone is trying to grab your attention with ever higher thread counts ... but is it the answer? Does it help you pick the best linen? Absolutely not. In fact, it could be the opposite.
Here is some advice (in 4 short points) based on our extensive experience with 5 star hotels, ie with serious linen professionals.
Let's eliminate anything below 300 thread count (the yarns are too thick to provide the smoothness we must expect from good quality linen).
Above 300 thread count, what matters is not the highest thread count at all, but rather the quality of the yarn itself because you can only weave great linen with good long staple yarns - what most brands do not tell you is that to bring their cost down they use lots of short (read: cheap) yarns to make up a longer thread by twisting and joining up these short and rather inadequate yarns ... and this obviously leads to pilling and bobbling which you will notice after very few nights. This is what we call "fake high thread counts" ... So do not be fooled by big headlines about very cheap high thread count: this should in fact be a red flag. You will be cheated out of your hard earned cash ...
Pay attention to the feel of the fabric on the top side but also on the underside of the linen you are contemplating buying ( the underside will reveal how well woven it is and how tight the weave is...), pay attention to the stitching which reveals the manufacturer's attention to detail and pride in their product ... which you guessed it, will translate in better or lesser yarns too...
Choose the best weave for you: satin or percale depending on whether you like your linen light and cool or soft and silky. Only then, do choose your thread count.
You are better off with a fantastic 300 thread count than a poorly made 800 or 1000 thread count. Remember that higher thread count will lead to a more weighty linen- which might not be what you are looking for either...
Finally, the proof is in the proverbial pudding. Share your linen/thread count issues with us on firstname.lastname@example.org... I hope that the above will help your decision-making next time you have to buy new linen.