Slipcovers, the Old-School Sofa Refreshers, Are Finally Getting a Refresh
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Slipcovers, the Old-School Sofa Refreshers, Are Finally Getting a Refresh

Gone are the saggy, neutral slip-jackets that swallowed up 1990s sofas. To cloak a couch stylishly in 2023, mix contrasting fabrics or add a kicky short skirt.

Thu, Feb 9, 2023 9:12amGrey Clock 2 min

YOU MIGHT think of slipcovers as a saggy, dun-coloured signature of shabby chic, that ’90s decor style. In 2023, however, designers are rethinking the concept, with tailored box pleats, clever closures, contrasting fabrics and kicky short skirts distinguishing the best examples. “Slipcovers are experiencing something of a revival just now,” said Ben Pentreath, a London-based interior and architectural designer. Here’s a strategy guide:

The Appeal

Imagine you couldn’t change your clothes without professional help. Such is the sartorial fix in which upholstered furniture finds itself. One workaround: removable slipcovers tailored to fit over sofas or chairs, and give them a new attitude. “A slipcover can change the mood and feeling of the piece itself,” said Cris Briger, interior designer and co-owner of Casa Gusto, a home-design shop in West Palm Beach, Fla. She clad a pair of stuffy, traditional settees in a jaunty striped cover whose flirty skirt still shows a bit of wooden leg and whose tie closures make no attempt to be discreet. “The slipcovers gave them all this personality they could never have with upholstery,” she said.

Such covers both hide existing wear and protect furniture that typically sees far more action than, say, a guest bed. “There’s something so infinitely practical about being able to take a cover off and get it cleaned,” said Mr. Pentreath, “especially for any sofa which dogs sleep on, which is all sofas.”

The Tips

The best makeover candidates? Sturdy, high-quality seats that simply need a refresh. Ideal fabrics include washable cottons, canvas, linens and classic chintz. “I’ve always done slipcovers seasonally,” said Ms. Briger. “When you’re covering up a wool sofa, it’s awfully nice to do polished-cotton stripes for the summertime.”

To ensure his covers don’t shrink catastrophically upon cleaning, Mr. Pentreath prewashes at a high temperature the material that will be used. The process has a bonus flattering effect on “most chintz fabrics,” he said. “It gives them an instant sense of that elusive and much dreamed-of age.”

Slipcovers, impermanent by definition, also free you up to experiment, he notes. You can forgo the long-term practicality of safe performance fabrics and give your sofa a polka-dot-cotton spring or a tweedy, textured fall.

The Caveats

Beyond the cost of fabric, labor to make a sofa slipcover with cushions can cost $1,200, an armchair $500. And some upholstered pieces are ill-suited for a wardrobe change. “Tufted furniture looks bumpy with a cover, so I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Albert Nakash of Bettertex, a New York City textile workshop. “Slipcovers can work for most shapes, but pieces with straight lines make for a nicely tailored fit.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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