5 Best Pillow Shams

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What are the best pillow shams? That’s a question that comes along with a lot of very subjective answers! There are lots of things to consider when choosing the best options for you: pillow size, fabric type, ease of care and, of course, your personal design tastes and overall bedroom decor.

That having been said we can offer you a look at some of the best pillow shams we have found to suit all kinds of tastes, as well as offer a little more information about just what a pillow sham is and why you might need some new ones in your bedroom as soon as possible!

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[Also Read: Best Weighted Blankets ]

What is a Pillow Sham?

As its name suggests, essentially a pillow sham is a ‘false pillow’. It adds a decorative touch to your bed and creates a more pulled together and aesthetically pleasing look overall. Adding pillow shams to your bed is almost the equivalent to putting on lipstick, enhancing your overall bedroom decor scheme in minutes and at a fairly minimal cost.

Pillow Sham vs. Pillowcase: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the difference between a pillow sham and a pillowcase is where some shoppers get confused, and it does not help that even some bedding vendors use the terms interchangeably when they should not. Although they are similar there are some definite differences between pillow shams and pillowcases you should know about.

Pillowcases are designed to encase your pillow and help keep it clean and fresh. They also offer a softer, more comfortable sleeping experience than just a pillow alone. They hug the pillow and are easily laundered. They open at the side and usually match the sheets you are using on your bed. Some have a little decoration, but, unless it’s a kids’ pillowcase, not very much.

Pillow shams, on the other hand, are purely decorative, and they are NOT designed to be slept on. They usually open at the back and slip over your pillow and pillowcase to create a more pulled together look doe your bed. Many of them can be laundered at home, usually by hand, but the very expensive ones you may have to dry-clean.

Pillow Sham Sizes

When shopping for pillow shams you’ll find that almost all of them are sized according to the pillow they will be used on.

Pillow sizes usually correspond with your bed: twin, full, Queen, King etc. Therefore, it is rather important that you know the pillow size you’ll be covering before you start shopping for pillow shams, to avoid ending up with something that just does not fit properly! If you are not sure what size your pillows are (because it’s a while since you bought them) this pillow size chart will help you find out.

Standard Pillow Queen Pillow King Pillow Euro Pillow
20″ x 26″ 20″ x 30″ 20″ x 36″ 26″ x 26″

The Best Pillow Shams

Now that you understand a little more about just what a pillow sham is and its intended uses, here’s the look we promised you at some of the best options we discovered on a recent shopping spree.

Best Overall: MarCielo 2-Piece Embroidered Pillow Shams

MarCielo 2-Piece Embroidered Pillow Shams, Decorative Microfiber Pillow Shams Set Standard Size Turquoise

Why You’ll Love Them: Available in lots of colors and sizes these understated pillow shams will complement almost any bedding decor scheme without overpowering it.

The MarCielo 2 Piece Pillow Sham Set offers an embossed design that’s a little reminiscent of abstract roses but is subtle enough that it does not look too feminine. The pillow shams are available in a whopping 14 different colors – everything from simple black or white to bolder turquoises and reds with lots of neutrals in between – and their microfiber construction means they both resist staining and feel super soft.

Pros: Lots of size and color options, can be machine washed and tumble dried, microfiber fabric helps repel dust and allergens, are a true to size fit according to past purchasers.

Cons: May be a little too understated for some people’s tastes.

Best Value: Pinzon Egyptian Cotton Hotel Stitch Sham

Amazon Brand – Pinzon 400-Thread-Count Egyptian Cotton Sateen Hotel Stitch Sham - Standard, Silver Grey

Why You’ll Love Them: Egyptian Cotton is one of the secrets big hotels use to make their rooms look so pulled together and clean. These pillow shams offer this at a very reasonable price.

Even though you are not supposed to sleep on pillow shams you do want them to last and Egyptian cotton is one of the most durable yet soft fabric options for any type of bedding. These pillow shams are not ‘fancy’ in design, they are a crisp white with a colored edge, but this means they will suit any bedroom decor and are great choice for guest bedrooms, a neutral, pleasing for all decor in those spaces really is the best way to go.

Pros: Luxurious Egyptian cotton at a very affordable price, can be machine washed and line dried, offer a subtle, stylish decor touch that looks pulled together and crisp and suitable for neutral, unisex bedroom decor schemes.

Cons: Some may simply find these pillow shams too plain.

Best Quilted Shams: Southshore Fine Linens

Southshore Fine Living, Inc. - VILANO Springs - Pair of Quilted Pillow Sham Covers (No Inserts), 20' x 26', Teal

Why You’ll Love Them: Quilted pillow shams add depth and texture to your bedroom decor, and these are a great, versatile example at an excellent price.

Sometimes the best decor schemes make great use of texture as well as color and shape. These pillow shams are even quilted with a small square pattern that looks luxurious and subtly stylish. Offered in sixteen different colors and available for all common pillow sizes you can use these pillow shams to add extra visual interest and style to almost any bed.

Pros: Subtle but stylish quilting adds depth to your bedding decor scheme, available in lots of colors and sizes, soft microfiber fabric can be machine washed and tumble dried.

Cons: One of the more expensive options on this list.

Bohemian Shams: Flber Tasseled Sham Set Boho

Flber Tasseled Sham Set Boho Cotton Pillow Covers,18.9in x29.1in,Set of 2

Why You’ll Love Them: The Boho look can be hard to get right and can end up looking messy rather than stylish and cool. These pillow shams will help you ensure that’s not the case in your bedroom!

Boho style – short for Bohemian and basically any style that expresses personality and displays a laid back, somewhat eclectic vibe – is hugely popular right now. If you’d like to add a Boho touch to your bed without going too over the top these pillow shams are a great choice. Available in gray or white and enhanced with neutral colored tasseling, these pillow shams strike a great balance between laid back and cool and just plain mismatched.

Pros: Great Boho inspired design, neutral colors will fit almost any decor, available in a range of sizes.

Cons: Cannot be machine washed, have to be laundered by hand and line dried.

Best King Size Shams: Vaulia Lightweight Microfiber Pillow Shams

Vaulia Lightweight Soft Microfiber Pillow Shams, Well Crafted Pinch Pleat, King Size (20x36) Grey Color Set of 2

Why You’ll Love Them: Big beds call for big, bold style and these pillow shams have that in buckets.

King size beds are big beds, designed to almost dominate a bedroom. Wimpy pillow shams get lost on them, which is why these pinch pleated, very elegant and understated pillow shams are such a great choice for any bedroom. Available in a range of neutral colors they’ll add a touch of sophisticated visual interest at a reasonable price.

Pros: Very stylish and bold design adds sophistication and helps balance a larger King bed, available in a range of neutral colors to suit almost any bedding style, pinch pleating adds texture to your decor as well.

Cons: May be too simple for some tastes.

What size shams should you use on a queen or king bed?

As we mentioned, usually pillow shams are sold according to pillow size. If you have a larger bed – a Queen, a King or even a California King – ideally you should make use of larger pillows and these will need larger pillowcases and pillow shams. Pillows that are too small not only look silly but can be uncomfortable to sleep on when you have a bigger sleeping space.

Don’t go too big though – king pillows and pillow shams on a queen bed for example – as that will usually make your bed look cramped and uncomfortable and even messy if they hang over the edge!