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What Is A Pillow Sham? [Pillowcases Vs Pillow Shams]

By: Susie
Updated On: April 27, 2023

When it comes to bedding, many people are familiar with pillowcases, sheets, and comforters. But what is a pillow sham has always been a question of interest. You might have heard of them, but do you know what they are and what purpose they serve? Pillow shams have puzzled people for generations, and we are here to uncover their mysteries.

Pillow shams are often misunderstood and confuse even the most experienced sleepers. However, understanding what pillow shams are, and their purpose is essential for enhancing the look of your sleep sanctuary. Let’s dive into the world of pillow shams and unlock their mystery.

What Is A Pillow Sham?

What Is A Pillow Sham?

A pillow sham is a decorative covering designed to fit over a pillow. It is a pillowcase that fits the pillow and has an open end to slip over your pillow. Pillow shams are similar to pillowcases but are usually larger and are available in various sizes, from standard to the king.

Pillow shams are also designed to be purely decorative, unlike pillowcases used for sleeping. You can use them to dress up bedding sets with coordinating linens, but they may also be stylish window coverings or fashion accessories.

The Mystery of the Pillow Sham: Explained

The Mystery of the Pillow Sham: Explained

Pillow shams: they’re the mystery of the bedding world. They look like pillowcases, but they’re not. They’re more prominent, fancier, and available in various styles that spin your head. Are they for sleeping on? Are they just for decoration? Do they have a secret purpose that we’re not privy to?

It’s time to solve the case of the enigmatic pillow sham. Get ready to laugh, learn, and maybe even snuggle up with one of these elusive creatures as we explore their history, function, and the conspiracy theories surrounding them.

The History Of Pillow Shams

Pillow shams have been around for centuries and were initially used for decorative purposes rather than practical ones. In ancient Egypt, wealthy individuals adorn their pillows with ornate designs and precious metals. As the practice spread throughout the world, people began using pillow shams as a way to protect their pillows from dust and dirt.

Over time, pillow shams have evolved, with various styles and fabrics now available to suit different tastes and preferences.

The Confusion Surrounding Pillow Shams

Despite their long history, many people are still baffled by pillow shams. Some people are mistaken for regular pillowcases, while others are unsure how to use them. One of the most common misconceptions about pillow shams is that they are meant to sleep on. However, this is not the case, as pillow shams are purely for decorative purposes.

Another source of confusion is that pillow shams are often sold separately from bedding sets, making it harder for people to know which size and style to choose.

The Pillow Sham Conspiracy

Even being a relatively harmless part of bedding, there are some conspiracy theories surrounding pillow shams. Some people believe that they are part of a secret society of elite sleepers who use them to communicate with one another.

Others think that they are the key to unlocking a mystical dream world. While this is undoubtedly a humorous take on the subject, it’s safe to say that pillow shams are nothing more than a decorative accessory for your bedroom.

The Function Of A Pillow Sham

The Function Of A Pillow Sham

The primary purpose of a pillow sham is to enhance the look of your bedding which serves decorative purposes, unlike a regular pillowcase, which is used for sleeping. Pillow shams come in various styles, from simple solids to intricate patterns and embroidery, making them a great way to add color or texture to your bedding.

Pillow shams can also tie together different elements of your bedroom decor, creating a cohesive look. It is a cover that fits over a pillow, often with a slit in the back to make it easy to put on and take off. Pillow shams are usually larger than regular pillowcases and come in various sizes to fit different pillows.

Pillow shams can be used to add a pop of color or pattern to your bedding or to tie together different elements of your bedroom decor.

In addition to their decorative purposes, pillow shams can also be used to protect your pillows from dust and dirt, making them a practical addition to your bedding set and keeping them clean and fresh. However, it’s important to note that pillow shams should be removed from your pillows before washing your bedding.

How To Select The Right One?

How To Select The Right One?

When it comes to decorative pillows for your home, there are several alternatives available to select from. One of the more popular ones is a pillow sham, made from one piece of fabric covering both sides and sewn together on three sides, while the material on the back is usually cotton, polyester, or linen.

It is a decorative cover for your pillows that generally matches the bedspread. You can find a variety of pillow shams made from different fabrics, including cotton, polyester, linen, and silk. The most common size is 20″ x 26″.

On the other hand, a pillow cover typically has an opening in the back so you can slip in a standard-sized pillow. These are more functional and can be removed for washing or changing your look. It is an easier way to change up your decor without buying new pillows.

They are also more affordable. They will fit any standard-sized pillowcase (20″x26″), but they don’t offer the same look as a traditional sham because it doesn’t have the ruffle or ties on either end, as you would find on a standard sham. 

Some people have trouble differentiating between two terms, so here are some tips! Pillows are a terrific method to add warmth and elegance to your bedroom or your home.

The most straightforward approach to determine which one you’ll need is to examine where you can typically use it – if it’s on a bed, then it’s most likely a pillow sham, but if not, then it could be either one! They’re also perfect as decor when placed in other rooms like the living room or bedroom!

The Battle For Pillow Supremacy!

The Battle For Pillow Supremacy!

Pillow Sham Vs Case

In one corner, we have the humble pillow case, a reliable and practical choice for covering your pillow. And in the other corner, we have the flashy and decorative pillow sham, ready to spice up any bedroom with its flamboyant flair.

It’s a showdown for the ages, folks. The pillowcase may have durability and affordability on its side, but the pillow sham has the style and pizzazz that can’t be beaten. It’s like comparing a trusty old pair of sweatpants to a sequined ball gown. Sure, one may be more comfortable, but the other will turn heads and make a statement.

Sham Vs Duvet

Wait, there’s more! In the other corner, we have the duvet, the heavyweight champion of bedding. It’s like a pillow sham on steroids, covering your entire bed in a luxurious and cozy embrace. It’s the ultimate defense against chilly nights and bland decor.

So, which will reign supreme in the end? It’s up to you to decide, dear reader. Will you stick with the tried and true pillow case, or will you go bold with the pillow sham? Or will you go out and bring home the gold with a duvet? The choice is yours.

Which Is Better?

So, which will it be? Pillow sham vs case? Sham vs duvet? Let’s not forget the practicality of each contender. The pillowcase may be simple, but it gets the job done. It’s easy to wash, replace, and match with any bedding. Meanwhile, the pillow sham may require more care and attention with its delicate fabrics and intricate designs.

And what about the duvet? While it may be the most comfortable option, it can also be a pain to wash and store. Not to mention the struggle to get it inside its cover without losing your mind. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

Are you a no-fuss kind of person who values practicality over flair? Then the pillow case is for you. Or do you like to make a statement with your bedding and don’t mind a bit of extra effort? Then the pillow sham is your go-to. And if you want the ultimate cozy experience, there’s nothing like snuggling up under a fluffy duvet.

Pillow Sham Etiquette

Pillow Sham Etiquette

To ensure that your pillow shams look their best and last as long as possible, there are a few dos and don’ts to remember. Firstly, always choose the correct pillow sham size for your pillows. Secondly, remove your pillow shams before washing your bedding. Lastly, to keep your pillow shams looking crisp and wrinkle-free, give them a quick iron after washing.

FAQs Regarding Pillow Sham

What Is The Difference Between A Pillow Case And A Pillow Sham?

A pillow case is a removable cover that goes directly over a pillow, while a pillow sham is a decorative cover that goes over a pillowcase and is not meant to be slept on.

What Is The Purpose Of A Pillow Sham?

The purpose of a pillow sham is to add a decorative touch to a bed, as well as to protect the pillow from wear and tear.

What Is A Sham?

A sham is a decorative covering for a pillow that is not meant to be slept on.

Why Is It Called A Pillow Sham?

The word “sham” comes from the Old English word “sceamu,” which means “covering.”

Is A Bed Sham A Pillow?

No, a bed sham is a decorative covering for a pillow.

How To Use Pillow Shams?

Pillow shams are typically used as a decorative element on a made bed. They are placed over a pillowcase and can be arranged in various ways, such as standing up against the headboard or lying flat on the bed.

Can I Sleep On A Pillow Sham?

No, a pillow sham is not meant to be slept on. It is purely a decorative element.

Do Pillow Shams Go Over Pillow Cases?

Yes, pillow shams are designed to go over pillowcases, adding an extra layer of decoration and protection to the pillow.


In conclusion, pillow shams may have been puzzling people for centuries, but there’s really nothing to fear. They are simple, decorative accessories that can add a touch of style and elegance to your bedding.

By understanding the history, function, and etiquette surrounding pillow shams, you can incorporate them seamlessly into your bedroom decor. So go ahead, add a few pillow shams to your bedding set, and see how they can transform the look of your sleep space.

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