Oxford v Housewife Pillowcases

Having worked in the bedding industry for the last gazillion years, I have got so used to the terms "housewife" and "Oxford" that I don't notice their odd names anymore.  But for those of you who aren't in the know, we'll walk you through the differences between them and how they got their names.

What is the difference between Oxford and housewife pillowcases?

Housewife pillowcases have a simple sewn edge, which fits snugly to the pillow, and Oxford pillowcases have a fabric border around the edge, usually between 2-5cm.

Housewife pillowcases

I have heard quite a few women over the years pass comment on how the term "housewife" has a sexist connotation, so I decided that it was about time I found out the reasoning behind these long-standing names.

After a little research it seems that housewife pillowcases, rather than being designed for housewives, was actually designed BY a group of rather ingenious housewives.  In the 19th century, pillowcases had a simple opening at one end, and often the pillow would fall out. In the 1880's the Housewives Co-operative in Bolton adapted a standard pillowcase to include an inside flap at the end, keeping the pillowcase in place. This clever alteration led to this style of pillowcase being known as "housewife" pillowcases in the co-operative’s honour. 

Here are some housewife pillowcases from our current collection: 

Oxford pillowcases

The Oxford pillowcase is named after the cloth that pillowcases were originally made from – Oxford cloth – which was a hard-wearing fabric typically used to make shirts. Oxford style pillowcases offer a slightly more formal look but can be mixed and matched with housewife to create the aesthetic you’d like to achieve.

Here are some of our current favourite Oxford pillowcases:

Of course, we love all pillowcases, Oxford or housewife, rectangular or square, and love to use a mixture, often on the same bed. Why don’t you play around with size and shape and see what you can create? If you're looking for some pillowcase inspiration, or general bedroom style ideas, we’re always happy to help.

Shop all our bed linen collections and find your new favourite, or view our bedroom style ideas.

If you happen to know any more about the history of pillowcases, please do let us know. 

Happy bedmaking,

Molly and Harriet.