Everything You Need To Know Before Buying Your First Set Of Bedding

The ultimate bed is the perfect mix of form and function. You want it to look and feel good. To achieve that goal, first you have to understand the different layers, from flat sheet to Euro sham. Then there's the quest for the best material that suits your sleeping habits. (Hint: Long staple cotton is the way to go).

But, as you comparison shop for the coziest bedding, one question inevitably arises: What on earth do these fancy terms mean? The myriad of names for different types of pillows and sheet sizes can be confusing to even the most experienced interior expert. We've created a glossary of terms you might come across, so your next trip to the bedding aisle will be less of a head scratcher.

Duvet Cover

A duvet cover is essentially a case for your duvet, or blanket. Since your duvet shouldn't be laundered too often, the cover is used to shield it from dirt, dust, and unnecessary wear and tear.

Urban Outfitters Modern Marks Duvet Cover, $49, available at Urban Outfitters
Comforter

A comforter is essentially the same thing as a duvet, but they often come stitched in a patterned fabric, so a cover isn't necessary. Comforters are usually machine washable and are often sold as a set with decorative pillows.

Lauren Home Graydon Striped Comforter, $255, available at Ralph Lauren
Housewife Pillowcase

Also known as a terse pillowcase, this somewhat dubiously named product is a borderless, snug casing that's simply two pieces of fabric sewn together.

Jigsaw Waterstripe Pillowcase, $29, available at Amara
Oxford Pillowcase

An oxford pillowcase appears bigger than the housewife pillowcase, due to a floppy border stitched around the parameters of the pillow. The edge adds a touch of sophistication to the look.

A by Amara Lincoln 300-Thread Count Pillowcase, $40, available at Amara
Euro Sham

These are the cushions placed in front of your sleeping pillows for embellishment purposes. They're usually upholstered and come in square shapes.

Nordstrom at Home Amalia Euro Sham, $29.49, available at Nordstrom
Bolster

A bolster is a cylindrical pillow typically thrown in front of decorative pillows. These are sometimes used as neck rests.

OYOY Cylinder Pillow, $119, available at Burke Decor
Gusseted Pillow

This type of pillow is ideal for those who need extra neck and shoulder support: The edges of the pillow are thickened with side panels, giving the pillow a shape resembling a rectangular box.

Martha Stewart Collection Gusset Pillow, $80, available at Macy's
Loft

This word is used to describe the height of a pillow when it lays flat on the bed. Naturally, you should get a higher loft pillow if fluffiness is your thing.

Jockey Stay Comfy High Loft Pillow, $35, available at JCPenney