Pillowcase styles

Pillowcases – the difference between Oxford and standard Housewife styles

There’s nothing better than…

Sliding into your bed after a long day and snuggling up in your bed with perfectly plumped pillows and a luxuriously soft pillowcase or two (or three or four) and bed linen. Absolute bliss. Nothing beats it. My favourite hello and hardest goodbye. This is why we feel the quality of your pillow covering is as important as the quality of your sheets.

We have put so much love and care into developing our pillowcases. You place your head and face on them every night, breathe against them, and have constant contact against your skin – regardless of what you may (or may not) wear in bed. This is why we have put so much thought into ensuring you have the softest most luxurious sleep with our wonderful Oxford style pillowcases made from the finest natural 100% organic cotton.

The difference in pillowcase styles

What is Oxford style? How does this compare with the standard (and poorly named) ‘Housewife’ pillowcase? Both styles of pillowcase fit a standard pillow size of 50cm x 75cm. Confused?

In simple terms, a standard ‘Housewife’ pillow covering has a solid sewn edge, which fits perfectly around your pillow.  An Oxford pillow covering has a 5 centimetres border of fabric around the edge of the pillow to create a border. The difference is the border. This subtle difference creates a different aesthetic.

Standard “housewife” style

The term “housewife” causes some to comment about its sexist connotations. The Metro newspaper back in early 2016 ran a poll on whether a well-known retailer’s housewife pillow case was sexist. This does seem an outdated term for such an essential piece of bedding. Rather intriguingly, Wikipedia, one of my go to sources for information, doesn’t seem to know why it is called this.

I have discovered through my research that the “housewife” name originated in honour of the 1880s Housewives Cooperative in Bolton, who adapted the standard pillow covering used back then to include the inner flap that keeps the pillow in place. An efficient way of stopping the pillow from falling out and waking you up in the middle of the night.

Oxford style

So where does the Oxford style get its name? Perhaps it was invented in Oxford? Nothing in Wikipedia. I’ve found some references on the Internet to it being named after the type of cloth used to make it – Oxford cloth – but I’m struggling to find some evidence to substantiate this. A bit of a mystery! If I find out more, I’ll let you know.

Our pillowcase style

When we were developing our Organic Collection range for our launch at the end of last year, we spent a lot of time deliberating pillowcase styles. Should we stock both of these styles, or should we just start with one style and if so, which style? We decided to buck the trend and stock the Oxford style to add an extra layer of luxury to our initial range.

What we did know:

  • Our first range would be timelessly classic white bedding. This settles easily is any bedroom style.
  • We had high quality product samples that we (and others) had been testing over a number of months from a manufacturing partner that met our exacting standards, including the environmental criteria we were wanting.
  • Both the Oxford and standard style samples were incredible to sleep on. Tested by our family and others, including our [then] 9-year-old son who is fussy!

Our research showed us that the Oxford style pillowcase was preferred when it came to classic white bedding. We could not disagree, as we felt the beautifully detailed, simple but classic border adds to the simplicity and luxuriousness of our range.

We know our customers would love us to stock the standard style as well. With plans to increase our product range this year, please be assured we will not be referring to them as “housewife” when we start selling them.

What name would you suggest for the standard pillowcase style? We’d love to know.

Click here to browse our range of pillowcases.

Thanks for reading

Sara x

P.S. Did you know that the Oxford style is better for pillow fights? The fabric border around the edge is great for holding on to! It will be National Pillow Fight Day on 6 April 2019.

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