A duvet is pretty much a comforter that is filled with duck feathers or down. In the past, when there was still a difference between a duvet and a comforter, duvets were used on their own while comforters were used with bedsheets and blankets. Duvets originally came from rural north Europe, where they used the down from the Eider duck. The word "duvet" is actually French for "down". Today, with globalization and commercialization, there is no longer any practical difference between a duvet and a comforter - you can find them with any kind of natural and artificial filling, whether it is cotton, wool, silk, polyester or something else. You can also use them with and without bedsheets and blankets. Nowadays, many people just use the two words interchangeably.

A duvet cover (often just called a duvet by Americans) is like a pillow case for a comforter. It can come alone, or like bedding sets, it can come together with a sham (or two in the case of queen and king-sized beds) and maybe a bolster case. The sham is actually just another fancy name for the pillow case. When packaged together, this can be called a duvet cover set, or shortened to a duvet set. However, be aware that a duvet set can also come with a real duvet (or comforter) instead of the duvet cover, so be careful when you do your shopping.

There are several reasons why people by duvet sets. One of these reasons is to protect and reduce wear and tear on their comforter. Good comforters can cost a few hundred dollars, and when you tag on a brand name the price easily escalates beyond $500. Since the comforter becomes a little bit more damaged with each cleaning, it is obvious that you want to minimize its exposure to dirt and sweat. This is wear the duvet cover comes in - like a pillow case, it protects its content from the sweat and dirt from your body. And at a small fraction of the cost of a good comforter, this makes the duvet cover relatively expendable.

Another reason to buy duvet sets is to help your bedding to fit the theme of your bedroom. There is no reason to throw away a perfectly good (and expensive) comforter every time you redecorate your bedroom, so buying a duvet cover set which complements your newly remodeled room is just good sense. It is also a good and affordable way to change the mood of your room. For example, changing to a pink satin or silk duvet cover set for Valentine's Day for an added dash of romance, or cool blue cotton duvet cover when work stresses you out, or an energetic red duvet set when you are feeling down.

Changing the color of your duvet sets is not the only thing you can do to change your mood or the tone of your room's decorations. Changing the pattern also works well, especially for rooms of young children. For example, if your young son starts taking an interest in trains, it might be nice to change to a duvet cover set with train patterns on it. Other popular alternatives for young children are cartoon characters. And there are also many different patterns for the older generation - floral patterns, geometric patterns, etc.

You can find duvet sets in many different fabrics. The most common are cotton, silk, satin and artificial fibers like polyester. I If you look a bit harder, you can also find duvet covers in less common materials like flannel, velvet, suede, denim and linen. What you choose would depend on your budget, your own tastes as well as the climate where you stay. Cotton is common, silk and satin duvet covers are romantic while flannel and wool are warm and perfect for cold winters. While higher thread-count fabrics make better-quality duvet sets, what matters most is how the duvet cover feels to you. For example, while silk feels extra smooth, this may not be agreeable if you are a wife buying a duvet cover set which needs to be shared with a macho man husband. And many people simply feel that polyester fabrics do not breathe well and traps their sweat, making them feel clammy and uncomfortable under their comforters at night.

When buying duvet sets, it is important to get the sizes correct. While both comforters and duvet cover sets theoretically come in four sizes (twin, full, queen and king), not every manufacturer measures them the same way. There are variations both regionally and nationally. For example, the Eastern King and Californian King sized beds differ by 3 inches in width and 5 inches in height. What you need to do is use a measuring tape to measure the width and length of you comforter and pillows, and then use these measurements when you go shopping.

If you own good-quality comforters, it is wise to protect your investment by buying duvet sets to protect them. You will need to consider the fabric of the duvet cover set, the color and design, and the sizes carefully. Do not just concentrate on the looks but remember to check how the duvet cover feels against your skin.