Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Down with Comforters??

I'm going to go way out on a limb here (with the disclaimer: I am not a fashion designer) and scoff openly and loudly at the recent proclamation that down comforters are out.

Perhaps if I were Esme Squalor I would give a shit what's in and what's out, but here in the real world, where it gets cold and our wood-heated house gets chilly at night, I want a cover on my bed that's, as one detractor put it, "hot."

Don't you?

The fact is that in my house, our bedroom does double-duty as cold storage for our winter stores ;), which is why you'll find us snuggling under not one, but two, down comforters. The reality for many other people, however, who heat with oil, gas or electricity, is that the cost of heating their homes is becoming increasingly more expensive every year, and sometimes the increases are dramatic spikes that throw household budgets into a tailspin.

In the real world (as opposed to the "fashion world"), doesn't it, therefore, make sense to save some energy and some money, turn the heat down and throw a couple of extra down comforters on the bed?

When word of this gets out, the good news for those of us who are more realistic than fashion conscious is that we're likely to find a lot of cast-off down comforters free for the taking in those curbside give-aways or on freecyle ... or for very cheap at the thrift store.

Either way, when the price of gasoline and heating oil sky-rocket and all of those people (who eschewed their down comforters as too "common" and opted instead for thin, cotton blankets) are shivering in their beds, I reckon I'll have the last laugh from my cozy and warm, but too lumpy bed.

My mom used to say that comfort was more important than fashion. I don't know that I've ever told her, but "Hey, Mom. You were right! :)


  1. Our daughter has three, yes 3! down comforters on her bed ;) We have one comforter made of sheeps wool that my mother washed and carded herself, over 25 years old...big enough for two to snuggle under. It's no fashion statement, a bit lumpy and bumpy in places, but it does the trick!

  2. I thought Esme Squalor had something to do with J.D. Salinger....

    Down comforters are "out?" Who comes up with this stuff? I tell you what, even if I were filthy rich and there were no crisis to prepare for, I'd still want a down comforter, because I just plain ol' prefer a cold bedroom to sleep in. In fact, if I were filthy rich and clueless, I might chill my bedroom down to 52 in SUMMER for crying out loud, and pile on that comforter. Gimme a cold room and warm blankies any time!

  3. I have never liked down comforters, in or out of fashion. I don't know why. The best I can get is they work too well, and I grew up sleeping under 5 or 6 blankets, and I don't sleep well without all that weight on me. I should probably try again, huh?

  4. Julie, there must be some saying about no such thing as too many comforters ;).

    Kate - I'm with you. I love a cold room and a warm bed ;).

    As for Esme Squalor, Salinger did write a short story For Esme - with Love and Squalor, but the Esme I was thinking of was the character from Lemony Snicket's story, for whom being in style was the most important thing in life. She shows up in the story The Ersatz Elevator. The whole series is actually a pretty good read ... especially on cold nights, while snuggling under a mountain of down ;).

  5. Rach - I imagine it's a matter of personal choice, and if down doesn't work for you, why push it, right? That said, my down comforter weighs about 20 lbs ... or it could be the dog who lays on top of it making it heavier ;).

  6. I've kicked my thermostat way down this winter. To 64 from 73 last winter, so I'm sleeping under two comforters and a quilt.

    It's so much more cozy than realing on heat from the heater. I'm sleeping much better under all the poof.

    Comforters are underrated.

  7. Ooo...see now I was excited to see that article. I HATE comforters. Why? Because I was raised with quilts! Comforters are boring and impersonal. I grew up under my mom's handmade quilts and I still sleep under them today. In the winter, I just drag out another one and sleep under two. They're warm in the winter and they breathe in the summer.
    Hubby was raised with comforters and has one--on his side of the bed (on top of a quilt my mother made him!)

  8. Alyse - Definitely cozier under all to poof! And they are SO underrated ;).

    Kaye - Funny about your husband using both a comforter AND a quilt. I had quilts growing up, too, and I love them for snuggling on the couch during the winter, but prefer sleeping under a comforter. Go figure, eh?

  9. I am not about to through out my down featherbeds and I may still order comforter for my bed but I think that a recent news story may be the reason fashion folks are saying down products are out. I don't know if you have seen this or not but I will warn you that you it is graphic and not easy for animal lovers to see

  10. I grew up in a wood-heated house (translate: darn cold at night!) and layers of heavy homemade quilts over top of flannel sheets. Mom's quilts were 1 layer of patchwork scraps over top of a falling-apart blanket (or bought batting) and a wool Hudson's Bay blanket on the bottom, so you had the weight and warmth of three blankets.

    I must admit, though, I've encountered a few down comforters that were both heavy and warm enough to sleep in an unheated room.

    But I don't really care about fashion when I'm sleeping. I just want to be warm.

  11. I am not into fashions either... so I was surprise to hear down is out... not that I was surprised that down is actually out but surprised that to some people having an "in" comforter is an issue. I mean really? Ok so if it is an issue... Yippy I need to find them and get theirs! I would love one. :)

  12. Thanks, Woolysheep for that reminder that we should also be conscious of the origins of those things we use. I took a rather flippant attitude toward the whole fashion conscious standpoint of down without regard to the geese who lend their feathers to the product. I wish I could believe that the fashion industry was motivated by something as noble as the idea that down is inhumanely harvested, but I don't think it is so ... although fur coats fell out of fashion pretty quickly when activists picked up the torch. So, who knows?

    At any rate, like you, it's unlikely that I'll be swapping my down quilts because they aren't "fashionable", but perhaps I'll be a bit more careful about buying them in the future ;).

  13. Doomer - "darn cold at night" Yep, that sounds about right ;). And pretty darned cold first thing in the AM, too :).

    Someday I'm thinking I might put together a quilt using clothes that are too stained to donate. For the batting I was thinking of using one of those old, itchy Army issue wool blankets with a backing of flannel. Sounds like it would be similar to your mom's blanket - repurpose/reuse :).

  14. Leigh - Personally, I had no idea that bedding was one of those things that could be "in" or "out", and really, I'd prefer my houseguests not be checking out my bedroom :). But, seriously, I bet you'll be able to find some good deals on comforters given the news. Unfortunately, some people do take stock in that sort of thinking.

  15. Comfort beats style, of course. Any guy will tell you that. That goes double on a day like today, where it never got above freezing and there's still a layer of snow on the ground. My only beef with down comforters is that they don't feel warm — one equates weight with warmth, and down isn't heavy enough. My old army surplus down sleeping bag is a different matter, it manages to feel heavy without being heavy. Nice touch, there.

    Personally, I also throw my bathrobe on the foot of the bed to help keep my feet warm — it also makes it easy to find when Mason wakes up at night.

  16. I laughed out loud at the notion that "fashion" would dictate how I stay warm at night ;) Maybe my bed would be on the "Worst Dressed Beds" list? I have an old quilt that had spent a few months in the barn some years back. Of course, it was washed a few times before it was put on the bed. But it's warm at night and that's all that matters.
    Great post!

  17. I am not a fashionista, so as long as the bed is warm, I don't care if it is down, or a quilt or an afghan or a blanket....But, I will never get rid of my down coat (I have two) - they are the warmest things I own! Especially when we are shoveling for hours!!

  18. I'm with you -- we have a "lightweight" down comforter that we use all year. In the summer we put it in a cotton cover, and in the winter we put it in a flannel cover. I think we can get away with a lightweight comforter here in Maine only because our bedroom (in fact, our bed) is directly above the woodstove in the living room below us, and our floors are just 1.5"-thick pine flooring -- no drywall. The heat comes right up. (The kids have regular down comforters since they're farther away.) Thought I tend to run hot and my wife's always cold -- pretty typical, I suppose -- so I've always got a leg or two outside the down comforter to cool off.

    I've always thought fashion concerns in a bedroom made no sense at all. Practicality rules in the bedroom, where (as you said) guests shouldn't be poking their noses anyway.

    And don't get me started on the general foolishness of "interior designers." I've had to work with a few when building cabinetry for clients and typically by the end of the job I'm ready to strangle them.

  19. Gee, you really had a comment-provoking article today...close to the heart, I guess, when it comes to our creature comforts ;) Now I can't wait to snuggle up under my wool comforter tonight! Sweet dreams, everyone!

  20. Anything can be in or out, haven't you seen The Cat and The Hat? "Those drapes are so out, they're in!" I have two comforters on my bed, they're really warm. In fact I have ended up sweating before they are so warm. But that's mostly when I'm up past eleven reading, it gets warm when you're reading under two big blankets surrounded by pillows! :D Though I do wish my comforters were striped red and black..... :(

  21. FARf - sometimes we have a feather mattress at the foot of our bed to keep our feet warm ... and the dog does that, too, although I'd prefer a robe or feather mattress to the dog lying on my feet ;).

    Farmgal - I think my bed would definitely make that list ;). Come to think of it, I might qualify, too :).

    Maria - absolutely ... as long as it's warm. That's what I'm sayin' ;).

    Too funny, Steve. I've never had to deal with interior designers, but I'm thinking if they're terribly worried about trends over what makes sense, I have very little use for them.

    Julie - yeah. It seems so. It must be the weather keeping everyone home today ;).

    Keet! - We should get you a couple of comforter covers (like the one's Steve mentions above). We could get you one red one and one black one ... or ... how about if we made a couple of "quilted" covers using red and black squares? That could actually look pretty cool. I wonder what the fashion gurus would think about that?

    Oh, and you shouldn't stay up so late reading :).

  22. I live in SE PA and it gets downright cold in these parts. I like to sleep in a cold room (if it's too warm I can't breathe) so I do not have the heat turned all the way on in the bedroom. I recently purchased a down comforter/blanket and can't wait to try it out. I have never used one before.

  23. Hi, Cheyenne, I hear ya! I can't sleep if it's too warm either - it's probably good I live in Maine ;). I'd love to hear how your first trial with your new down comforter worked out ;).