The 10 Best Bathrobes
Personal Luxury: The Best Bathrobe Based On Comfort
Cotton is far less expensive than its counterpart, but when spun and woven with care, it can offer many of the same benefits as a fine woolen bathrobe.
Microfiber and fleece are commonly used to create layers in thicker robes, though some bathrobes are created entirely from these materials.
The bathrobe sits in a curious category among all things sartorial: the garment is seldom worn anywhere but in the most private areas of the home -- namely the bathroom and bedroom -- yet its design can be every bit important as a favorite garment worn in public, albeit for quite different reasons. For while most clothing is prized primarily for its appearance, with comfort as a secondary factor, bathrobes are usually chosen based on how they feel. In fact, looks are often a distant afterthought when it comes to selecting a bathrobe.
The seminal factor when it comes to choosing the right robe is simply your personal comfort, and the primary concern when it comes to robe comfort is cloth type. If money is no great object, it is difficult to find a more luxurious fabric than cashmere.
Cashmere is uniquely suited to use in making bathrobes for myriad reasons. The first is the warming insulation this natural fiber provides, as genuine cashmere is sourced from goats native to frigid mountain regions. Cashmere is soft, thick, and can be woven into tight, durable garments that are ideal for retaining heat, an ideal property for a garment worn in colder seasons and/or climates. But of course this is also one of more expensive materials used in making robes, and may be cost prohibitive for some consumers.
A close second to cashmere in terms of comfort and warmth is natural cotton, with Turkish cotton celebrated like few other varietals. Cotton is far less expensive than its counterpart, but when spun and woven with care, it can offer many of the same benefits as a fine woolen bathrobe. In fact, many people prefer cotton over cashmere for its absorbent properties, and it's also easier to care for than many other fabrics, as it can be repeatedly washed and dried without losing its quality.
Many synthetic fabrics are used for making bathrobes, with polyester, microfiber, and fleece being the most commonly seen. Polyester is often used in combination with a natural fiber such as cotton, and the resulting robes are often quite durable, albeit sometimes less plush or warm than those made only with natural fibers. Microfiber and fleece are commonly used to create layers in thicker robes, though some bathrobes are created entirely from these materials. A robe made from or lined in these artificial materials can be warm, soft, and ideal for the user who wishes to lounge about in a robe. They are often not highly absorptive, however, thus limiting their efficacy as a component of active ablutions.
Choosing A Bathrobe Based On Use
As luxuriant as a cashmere or woolen bathrobe might seem, such a robe might be the wrong choice for the individual who simply wants to be dry following bathing. So too might an extra-thick robe made of fleece or microfiber be a great choice for layering up before a late-night study session prove a poor choice for use while you wash up before bed. These bathrobes are great at keeping you warm, but only if you are not wet.
If your bathrobe is to serve as a stand-in for or assistant to your towel, it must be selected primarily for its ability to soak-up water.
Simply put, cashmere, fleece, and certain other fibers and fabrics commonly used to make bathrobes are not absorbent enough for use in drying the body. If your bathrobe is to serve as a stand-in for or assistant to your towel, it must be selected primarily for its ability to soak-up water. And for this, cotton is the best possible choice. Cotton fibers naturally attract water, drying your skin wherever they find moisture atop it.
However, know that cotton also tends to retain water, drying much more slowly than woolen or synthetic fabrics. Thus the cotton bathrobe is the ideal choice for the person who will wear his or her robe for a short period during their bathing and hygiene routine, and who will then hang it up for a good long time spent drying (or will toss it into the laundry).
Many synthetic materials, fleece and microfiber included, tend to repel water. This makes them a poor choice for use right after the shower when you are still wet, but a great choice for longer-term wear when you want to remain warm and dry. A synthetic bathrobe worn over pajamas on a cold, damp night, for example, can be an ideal choice for user comfort.
Finally, consider the environment in which you will wear your robe. If you will use it in a common area, such as a shared bathroom in a college dormitory, then you should choose a garment that can be washed repeatedly without incurring notable damage. This washing will be imperative to maintaining personal health and cleanliness. If your robe is only to be worn at your own home following bathing, then no external factors need to inform your choice.
A Few Words On Proper Bathrobe Care
Most bathrobes can be laundered along with your bath towels; they require no special care, though they will likely need less laundering than said towels, as they will usually not become fully sodden and thus are less prone to issues like mildew or material growth. Cotton bathrobes in particular can be washed and dried just like towels.
You can purchase a detergent that was purpose-built for such materials, or you can use a small amount of a gentle shampoo, with baby shampoo as the ideal choice.
Fleece and microfiber bathrobes can be washed repeatedly, but there are a few things you must note about the process. Do not wash these artificial fabrics with natural materials like cotton (especially flannel), as the minute fibers of the synthetics will catch and become covered with the lint of the natural materials. When drying fleece and microfiber, do so on a low heat setting, as they can melt and even create a fire hazard with elevated temperatures. Air drying is more than viable for these quick-drying fabrics.
Contrary to popular misconception, cashmere should not be dry cleaned. The chemicals used in this process will damage the fibers of this fine wool, making it lose the softness for which it is prized over time. Cashmere should be washed gently by hand, and using a minimal amount of soap. You can purchase a detergent that was purpose-built for such materials, or you can use a small amount of a gentle shampoo, with baby shampoo as the ideal choice.