We’ve had this question a few times and it’s no wonder - all these bedding terms can get very confusing. Our North American customers are accustomed to sham pillowcases and don't often come across the term Oxford. And us Aussies get confused too as we’ve probably come across both terms and wonder what the difference is!
Luckily, the Oxford pillowcase is simple to understand as it’s quite similar to a standard pillowcase. It has the same internal dimensions as a standard pillowcase (50 x 75cm) but it has an additional decorative border (or flange, flap, extra fabric) around the edges. This can range from reasonably narrow like ours, at 3cm, to about 10cm.
So although it’s the same size as a standard pillowcase, it looks bigger and a bit more elegant which is why it tends to be used more as a decorative element rather than to sleep on. Ours are made from the same fabric as regular pillowcases though, so feel free to snooze on your oxford pillowcases, they'll be equally comfy to sleep on.
But why is it called an Oxford pillowcase, you ask?
Good question. “Oxford pillowcases” is a term more commonly used in England, the name comes from the fabric which they used to be made from – oxford cloth. If the oxford shirt comes to mind, it’s because it derives its name for the very same reason.
So is it the same as a sham pillowcase?
Sort of. Shams are intended to be decorative as well, particularly so in the United States and so are often made with decorative materials which look great but are not always very comfortable to sleep on.
The Oxford pillowcase equivalent in the US would be a specific type of sham – a flanged sham. Oxford pillowcases typically sit in front of or on top of the regular pillowcases, and when it’s time to sleep you can either pop them behind to prop yourself up, or take them off the bed entirely. But unlike many shams, you can also sleep on them if you like and it will feel just as comfortable as a regular, standard pillowcase.
Which one should you choose?
Entirely up to you. Just depends on whether you prefer the sleeker, more minimalist look of the standard pillowcase or want that little bit extra oomph from an oxford pillowcase.
We currently offer both types, but it looks like most of you are drawn to the simplicity of standard pillowcases so unfortunately we're discontinuing our Oxfords at least for the foreseeable future. The good news is that means they're reduced! So if you've had your eye on a set, at 20% off, now's your chance. You can use them instead of standard pillowcases and save a little bit of cash at the same time.