What is an Oxford Pillowcase?

In the UK, there are generally two types of pillowcases: the Oxford and the Housewife. Both are different and are ideal in certain situations. In the following guide, Linens Limited will explore the differences between the two and help you to understand which would work better in your home.

Oxford pillowcases

The Oxford pillow case is constructed with an additional fabric border that encircles the normal cover’s four borders, giving it a more opulent and ornate aesthetic. This additional flat border typically measures 5 cm wide, though it can be up to 10 cm in some designs. Oxford pillow cases are sized to suit ordinary pillows; the border gives the impression that the case is larger overall.

Why are they called ‘Oxford’ pillowcases?

The name’s origin is ambiguous and many people just assume that the design must have originated in Oxford. The Oxford pillow case may have actually been named after the heavy fabric known as Oxford cloth, which contributes to the popularity of Oxford pillowcases. Oxford cloth was chosen for the Oxford shirt because of its thickness and added durability, which is why this kind of fabric was also chosen for pillowcases of this sort. 

Housewife pillowcases

Housewife pillowcases are viewed as the more standard and basic of the two, and are regarded as ‘regular’ pillowcases. They traditionally feature a plain, sewn edge which fits snugly around standard rectangular pillows. There is no additional design to these types of pillowcases and they offer a sleek, modern look.

Why are they called ‘Housewife’ pillowcases?

As with Oxford pillowcases, the origins of the ‘housewife’ name are unclear. However, the following story may shed some light on it, and is currently the accepted explanation.

In the 19th century, pillowcases were constructed with a closed end and a very basic open end. This simple design often caused the pillows to either fall out of the cases immediately or over time. The Housewives Cooperative in Bolton reportedly stepped in, modifiying the design by adding an interior flap to the open end which held the pillow in place. As a result, it is claimed that the design was given the nickname “Housewife” in honour of the Cooperative’s innovation.

Which pillowcase is best for me?

Oxford and Housewife pillowcases are equally useful, so your decision will depend on whether you want something simple and functional, or more elaborate and decorative. 

Housewife pillowcases are more plain and straightforward due to their basic rectangular shape, but they can still be visually appealing with the addition of eye-catching designs. Housewife pillowcases are typically more affordable, take less effort to wash and can be replaced more easily.

On the other hand, Oxford pillow cases may provide your bedding sets a more opulent and stylish appearance thanks to their extra decorative border. Oxford pillowcases are perfect for making guest rooms look unique and welcoming, and they are perfect if you prefer adding extra levels of luxury and adornments to your decor.

Buy now

At Linens Limited, we sell a large variety of pillowcases and pillows to go with them. Whether you are looking for something simple or stylish, head to our website to shop our here

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