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What is a Sham? The Art of Styling Your Bed Pillows

Though you might not know the word for it, you certainly know it when you see it. What is a sham, exactly? It is a pillow with a “false front.”
Gretty Garcia Feb 10, 2021
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Though you might not know the word for it, you certainly know it when you see it.  What is a sham, exactly? It is a pillow with a “false front.” In the 18th century, shams were specially-made pillowcases that served as decorative pillows and were designed to have removable covers. This tradition carried on for centuries, and today’s iterations run the gamut from classic and minimalist to avant-garde and eclectic. Although they can be used as normal pillows, shams are typically used as decoration. Mix and match to your heart’s content with our top edit of ultra-chic sham options that are sure to command attention in every boudoir space.


Simple bedding sets are anchored in reticent hues and designs that combine for a timeless, elegant finish. Consider these the ultimate options to tap this classicist vibe. Whether anchored by a soft lace inset with a classic chain motif or an elevated diamond stitch patterning that is finished with a luminous sheen, these are the perfect timeless classics that will outlive trend after trend. 


Historically, dating back centuries in Europe, the bed was celebrated as the most important piece of furniture in a home. Embrace this storied tradition vis-à-vis chic chain motifs, three-line embroidery, and striking satin borders rendered in vibrant hues to bring a sense of calm and storied sophistication into every bedroom space.


A fail-safe home decor essential that instantly dresses up any bed, shams can either complement the home or work as a standout bed accessory. These casual options cull inspiration from a myriad of influences. From classic Indian botanicals that play with scale and contrast, Italian textile designs that have endured through the ages, and the California coast, with its seaside hues and palm trees, these shams will incorporate an instant dose of eclectic style into every bedroom ensemble.

Color & Pattern Plays

Today’s colorful pattern plays veer more chic and contemporary than drabby and dated. Whether you find yourself obsessing over Missoni’s iconic chevron cushions — constructed in either the black and white option or the multicolored fabric — or Rani Arabella’s safari motifs, these shams will instantly elevate and inject a measure of artful interest into any room.

Gretty Garcia
Gretty Garcia handles features and special projects at Editorialist, and covers all things from exciting new releases to profiles on prolific figures across multiple industries. After studying at Harvard College, she began working at Editorialist and is now simultaneously pursuing her master’s degree from the Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not covering this season’s must-have accessories, she’s adding to her book collection or listening to culture podcasts.
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