Fur, real and faux, is the hot holiday seller this year, with Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn reporting that furry pillows and blankets are selling out in some stores. For those shoppers looking for a last-minute gift that feels luxurious and indulgent and yet useful, we went in search of the softest, plushest, most huggable pillow and convened a blindfolded panel to conduct a touch test. The reviews were surprising. Though many of the designs in our informal survey were authentic lambskin, the nearly unanimous favorite was an inexpensive Restoration Hardware pillow made of modacrylic and polyester.
• Mongolian lamb in amethyst: West Elm, 12 by 16 inches; regularly $59, on sale for $37 to $41, plus $7 to $11 for polyester or feather-down insert.
The cuddle test: Reviewers were generally not impressed with the pillow’s curly fur or cotton backing. “I like that it’s so soft, but I’m not a fan of the long hair,” one person said. Another panelist was more blunt: “This is creepy. I don’t like the textured hair. The back is scratchy.” When we had panelists hold different sizes of the same pillow, smaller versions were deemed more decorative than functional, especially by men.
• Faux fur in caramel: Pottery Barn, 18 inches square; $39.50 plus $14 for feather-down or synthetic insert.
The cuddle test: After hugging a series of long-haired pillows, panelists liked Pottery Barn’s faux fur made of 82 percent modacrylic and 18 percent polyester. Hands declared it a winner for its silky feel, but eyes were less impressed with the fake look.
• Faux sheepskin: Pottery Barn, 18 inches square; $19.50 plus $14 for feather-down or synthetic insert.
The cuddle test: Judges liked the simplicity of this polyester pillow and noted that it felt like a “spa pillow.” Many considered it a bedroom accessory because, as one person said, “it feels comfortable for sleeping.” Its simple design also was popular once the blindfolds came off. Many said the neutral color would be a nice complement to other pillows in their home. “I like the size and the give,” a judge said. “I like that both sides are the same.”
• Mongolian lamb fur with faux suede back: Crate & Barrel, 18 inches square, $89.95, feather-down insert included.
The cuddle test: Reviews of this pillow, called the Pelliccia, varied greatly. Some liked that it felt so soft, but others declared the long hair to be a turn-off. “I like that it’s furry on one side, and the other feels like a bearskin,” one judge said. “It’s a nice, cuddly pillow,” said another. But some judges used the other C-word. “Creepy,” a critic said. “I don’t like the texture at all.” Said another: “It’s not something I want to hug.”
• Luxe faux fur: Restoration Hardware, 22 inches square; regularly $39, on sale for $29, plus $16 to $20 for feather insert.
The cuddle test: Blindfolded reviewers unanimously fell for this short-piled pillow made of 74 percent modacrylic and 26 percent polyester, citing it as the coziest and most luxurious — an effect enhanced by the fact that faux fur covers both sides. Size also was a plus. “This would feel great under my head or (under) feet on the coffee table,” said one judge, no doubt to the chagrin of his wife. One astute reviewer said the pillow felt so silky, “I’m guessing it’s fake. That’s probably good as that means that I can wash it!” (She was right. It is machine washable.) No one, in fact, wanted to let this one go.