A comfortable robe is one of the classic plush necessities. And owning a luxurious soft robe is simply the best way to bring the pampering feeling home. Spa robes also make perfect gifts. They are luxurious yet practical, fashionable yet comfortable. A robe and slippers gift set can make a lovely presentation and can be ideal for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. With the advances in material science and manufacturing process, there are more choices and selection of robes than ever before. But with so many different robes to choose from in the marketplace, deciding on the right robe can be difficult. The following 3 steps guide is to help you distinguish among the many types and styles of robes. It will help you make a better decision in choosing the right robe not only for yourself but also for your friends and family.
Step 1: Choosing the Robe Fabric
Fabric is the most important feature of a robe. The fabric defines the touch and feel, absorbency, and the overall weight of the robe. Fabric types can range widely from traditional cotton and classic satin to warm cashmere and plush microfibers. Your intended use for the robe will dictate what fabric is best for you. Most intended use is either for straight out of the shower (bathrobe) or for lounging around the house (lounge robe). Here are the pros and cons of each type of robe:
Microfiber is developed using a new technological manufacturing process which produces fibers that are 1/16 of the human hair size. Therefore microfibers are finer than silk, and more lightweight and breathable than other natural and synthetic fibers. Microfiber can be woven and brushed into a suede finished fabric for a luxurious, soft feel similar to that of satin and silk or it can be placed into a "splitting" process to create millions of micro-loops giving it fantastic water absorbency to enhance its soft and lightweight characteristics. A microfiber robe can be excellent for lounging around and is ideal for use throughout the year. Microfiber robes are relatively new to the market and are increasingly popular not only at retail shops but also at upscale spas and resorts. See our Plush Signature Robe.
Pros: Good water absorption, ultra-light weight, soft feel.
Cons: Luxury microfiber robes can be more costly than traditional terry robes
The combination of brushed microfiber as the outer shell and cotton terry as the inner lining creates a robe that is the best of both worlds. The silky exterior gives the dual layer microfiber robe a sleek look and a suede feel while the long loop terry interior gives the robe the necessary water absorption ability and softness to the touch. The dual layer microfiber spa robes also make ideal gifts for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, anniversaries, and holidays. These robes are very new to the marketplace. Many of today's luxury day spas use these dual layer microfiber robes as their in-house spa robes for their guests. Many are selling them at the day spa for over $120. Be sure to compare because not all luxury microfiber spa robes are made the same. The top of the line dual-layer microfiber spa robes should have the extra detailing and trimmings. See our line of Spa Robe.
Pros: Clean and sleek look. Good water absorption. Light weight.
Waffle weaved cotton is denoted by its distinct squared or diamond checker pattern. Waffle cotton robes are commonly used in the hotel and spa industry and for promotional corporate gifts. Most waffle cotton robes are reasonably priced and ideal for hotels and spas that regularly purchase robes in high volume. The 100% cotton characteristic naturally makes the material absorbent. But with the 100% cotton, shrinkage can be an issue. Pre-shrunk treatments to these robes should be a must.
Pros: Inexpensive. Ideal for bulk purchasing for hotels and spas.
Cons: Not nearly as soft as other robes. Shrinkage potential.
Cotton Terry Robes
Turkish and Egyptian cotton have been around for decades and are commonly used in towels and classic bathrobes. They have good water absorption ability especially if the fabric density/weight is high. Therefore, high-end cotton terry robes are good for use out of the shower but unfortunately tend to be thick and heavy especially when absorbed with water. Again, due to the 100% cotton characteristic of the fabric, cotton terry robes are subject to shrinkage problems. Pre-shrunk treatments are highly recommended.
Pros: Good water absorption. Commonly found in typical spas and hotel rooms.
Cons: Cotton terry robes can be heavy and bulky. The robes are prone to shrinkage if not pre-shrunked.
Cotton Velour Robes
This is the same soft pile fabric your favorite jump suit that you wore in the 3rd grade was made out of. But yours was probably made of all polyester. Velour feels similar to velvet, in that it is a pile fabric. Soft and thick, velour can be a good fabric for robes. Just be sure the velour robe you choose has a high cotton content no lower than 80% cotton.
Pros: Soft to the touch. Warm and insulating.
Cons: Bulky and heavy. More expensive than other cotton robes.
Satin and Silk Robes
All silk and satin robes are known to have a smooth feel. They are great as lounge wear and are ideal for the summer. Silk or satin robes do not have good water absorbency compared to cotton or looped microfiber robes. But unlike cotton robes, they are extremely light weight and fluid for movements.
Pros: Silky feel. Light weight.
Cons: Not ideal for spa use due to delicate care and low water absorption ability.
These robes are very expensive due to the cost of the cashmere fabric. There are many varieties of cashmere and shoppers should be aware of the quality you are getting before buying. The specialty animal hair fibers of cashmere are collected during molting seasons when the animals naturally shed their hairs. Cashmere robes are mostly used as lounge wear especially ideal for winter seasons. They have super insulating properties and are lightweight. Unfortunately, cashmere robes do not have water absorption abilities.
Pros: Warm and soft. Light weight.
Cons: Very expensive for high quality cashmere. Lack of water absorbency. Must be dry cleaned.
Chenille robes are becoming popular in the last few years especially ones made with micro-chenille. These micro-chenille robes are made with 100% polyester and therefore are excellent for insulation. Chenille robes have been popularized by Oprah's Favorite Things endorsements during the last two years. However, beware of the quality of the chenille. In the market, there are excellent micro-chenille robes and there are ones of very low quality. The high-end chenille robes are very soft and lightweight. But the low-end ones look exactly the same. Be sure to touch and feel them before you buy.
Pros: Warm and soft. Light weight.
Cons: Can lose shape after washing. Quality of chenille varies drastically. Low water absorption.
Step 2: Selecting the size
No matter where you buy a robe, please be aware of one size fits all robes. If you are lucky, you can spend many hours a day in your comfortable cozy robe. So why would you spend good money on something that wasn’t sized to fit you well. And if you are buying a robe for a friend or a loved one, you want to give them an option to exchange it for a different size if it doesn't fit well.
Why are there so many one size fits all or one size fits most robes?
Manufacturers introduced one size fits all apparel to minimize the amount of inventory they have to carry. For example, the hospitality industry buys a huge volume of robes to accommodate millions of guests in hotel rooms, day spas, and resorts. One size fits all was an inexpensive way for hospitality providers to furnish their rooms without having to deal with an assortment of sizes and at the same time simplify their house-keeping operations. However, if you are an individual customer, get the most bang for your buck by getting something that fits you.
In general, no matter where you buy your robe from, make sure the retailer offers at least five sizes. It doesn't make sense to spend good money on a robe and not have the best fit. Let's face it....One size fits all hardly fits anyone!
Step 3: Features and Other Considerations
Other important issues to consider when purchasing a robe is the construction of the robe. Even if the fabric is the same, not all robes are constructed equally. Features such as shawl collars, cuffs, generously sized pockets, inside ties add extra cost to the robe but enhance the look and functionality. The shawl collar adds a classic elegant look to the robe. In a bathrobe, it can also be used to help dry the neck and face. Another feature that is especially useful is the inside ties. A robe tends to come undone when you are moving in it. Inside ties can provide that added support and is recommended on all lounge robes.