Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Reader Questions for the Community: Monograms?

 

 Reader Questions for the Community: 

May I submit a Reader Question for the Community? I would be very interested in the Community’s current views on monograms. I have been contemplating adding a small monogram to the left cuff of some of my shirts and have been surprised at the strong reactions to this idea - both pro and con - expressed by friends and family. Many thanks! 

 

Over the years you have put up various clothes and bags with monograms on SWNE.  Is there a good list of what should and shouldn't be monogrammed? I am getting a new leather briefcase and I don't want to make a mistake one way or the other, but I am curious beyond that as well.  I am pretty low key but don't mind a bit of dash.  

 


41 comments:

  1. Briefcases and attache cases, yes. That's fairly traditional in the UK; you can easily identify your case in the club cloakroom. Monograms on shirts, I think not.

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  2. Has anyone seen those monogram stickers on rear windows of cars? How about the -I'm not sure if they're jig sawed or cut metal-script monograms on houses?! I've seen a few in bright pink and Kelly green. Rather obnoxious.

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  3. No monograms on shirts, please, and no monograms on briefcases, unless your initials are J.B.

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  4. On the shirts you can monogram but they should not be visible when worn (so somewhere at the bottom). The idea is for the shirts to be identified at the laundry.

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    1. I agree. If you are in the military and have to wash your clothes with everyone else, monograms make a lot of sense. Otherwise they can be a bit tacky.

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  5. A monogram is, by definition, entirely personal. If it's small and discreet, there's nothing infra-dig about monogramming a dress shirt, even if it's a little old-fashioned. Likewise a monogram on your new briefcase—it's a statement of individuality and, as you say, a bit of dash. It seems unlikely you'll ever need a monogram to identify your case anywhere. Most of s can do that on sight. The monogram is an aesthetic choice, not a practical one.

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  6. We gave someone a set of engraved monogrammed blazer buttons when he graduated from the Naval Academy (and going into the USMC). That was a fairly subtle form of a monogram and makes a good gift. But we never saw him wearing a blazer.

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  7. I have inherited some monogrammed items like my great grandfather's silver hair brushes and hickory shafted golf clubs and enjoyed thinking of him, but the few things of my own that I had monogrammed were regretted, especially things like my attache case that now gathers dust. The monogram seems to make it awkward to dispose of it through a place like Goodwill.

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  8. I saw a photo of Trump’s shirt cuff French cuff) with “45” embroidered on it. So it must be OK?

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  9. No less than three letters on your briefcase (prole), no more than three (pretentious). Properly placed just below the lock and no larger than 0.5 inches.

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  10. I follow my grandmother's advice - only monogram those items that may be confused with someone else's. These days that means briefcase/luggage but probably not clothing.

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  11. Three simple letters. Thank you so much!

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  12. I'm puzzled by people who get monogram tattoos. Is it so they can find themselves?

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    1. OMG - seriously? A monogram tattoo?? I've never heard of such a thing! Who knew???

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  13. I find myself on the fence about this one. In the past, there would have been certain items that would have practical reasons for monogramming, particularly if they were things that could be confused with others (such as briefcases in a meeting or court room, oxford shirts that look similar in a men's locker room, boat totes brought to the beach or the lakeside that could potentially be misplaced, the reverse side of JLC watches, etc.). The old adage then was that my initials were better than some designer logo/label. However, since my divorce 25 years ago, and as I am still carrying my bloody ex's surname, I am reluctant to monogram anything, to be honest and I have oft thought monograms to be a tad pretentious. If done, I think it should be discreet.

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  14. Years ago, TPF purchased a full grain belted leather 'doctor bag' briefcase with solid brass fittings, had his initials embossed on it, then refused to take delivery. The establishment that had sold the bag was stuck trying to re-sell it, a task made more difficult by TPF's embossed, gold-leafed initials under the thick top strap. After feigning reluctance for the purpose of negotiating a low price, I purchased it and buffed the gold leaf out of the initials. That briefcase has since accompanied me to countless court appearances, weeks of overseas travel, and several lengthy contested proceedings.

    I don't monogram anything but would like to thank TPF, whoever he is.

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  15. I monogram my LL Bean totes....but that's because I think almost every Mom at the pool club has the same bag (the large boat tote is PERFECT for towels, pool toys, goggles, etc.) Great minds think alike.....and it does eliminate confusion. Ditto the LL Bean backpacks for school. The uniform is navy so quite a few students carry the navy backpack.

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  16. I have a white wool shirt that belonged to my grandfather. He passed away in 1939 so this information is a bit dated but there is a three letter monogram on the left sleeve on the forearm about 8 inches from the bottom of the cuff.

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  17. I'll add monograms to personal items that can be easily mistaken for others. I have bags, coat linings, etc... with monograms. When I lived in DC, my cleaner would stamp customers names inside shirts. I didn't like this and worked out a solution--I had my monogram added to my shirttails (not visible).

    I do have monogrammed silver accessories (belt buckle, pens, cocktail shaker, vermouth oil can, etc..) that I've received as gifts. While I wouldn't have tagged them for myself, it was a thoughtful touch.

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  18. Monograms were very popular during my prep school days, particularly with oxford button downs. Very helpful for identification in a sea of shirts. The preferred placement was on left cuff. I continue the tradition to this day, but it is a personal thing.

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  19. Personally, I love monograms, but only on stationary, bath and hand towels, and beach and boat canvas tote bags.

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  20. My aunt had a briefcase monogrammed with her initials, 'NAG' - and she was.

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    1. Hahaha - this made me laugh. Thanks!

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    2. You win the Internet today.

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  21. Stopped monograming B2 OCBD in my 20's. If you pull off that move on the shirt business & make fun of yourself, monogram on rib cage or crook of elbow on shirt sleeve...see Fred Astaire. Monogram only hunting gun slips, shell cases, duffel bags , canvas totes, bird bag, chaps, picnic basket carrier etc...most of it from Running W Saddle Shop 1970's vintage. There is a monogram cult at Exxon, VP or higher see left cuff...of course they dress like funeral home directors.

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    1. You brought back fun memories of the Exxon culture. I worked at a big bank in Houston in the '70s and '80s and dealt with a lot of them. We had one on our board, and you described him well. Our bank had a rather famous "dress guide," and monograms on shirts were frowned upon by most.

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    2. Mr. Irvine,
      As you well know back then, it was more fun. Lunch or dinner
      at Petroleum Club, Coronado Club, Maxine’s, & Confederate House.
      An era of characters with character accompanied by firewater.

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  22. I was always taught that shirt monograms should be at the top of the chest pocket and in plain sans serif capitals only. That said, I haven't owned a monogrammed shirt in years. I do favor monogrammed blazer buttons and still use an old silver monogrammed belt buckle. Initials on the briefcase should be just above or below the lock, or even under the flap if you want to be especially discreet.

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  23. I have given some items to my twin sons with monogram for the purpose of identification. I myself had monogrammed my barbour jackets and duffel bags. I'm thinking that it would mean more once I hand it down to my sons in the future. It also seems to me items such as bags and luggages were more cherished by my sons since i took the time to monogrammed it. And I would rather have my monogram rather than an alligator or polo player emblazoned on my clothing.

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  24. I monogram my shirts on the left side rib cage and also monogram my underwear on the left leg. Brooks Brothers does both well and not so expensive

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  25. I’ve always been surprised at the strong reactions this question gets.

    I had monograms growing cup, on the tail of my shirt, but not on the patterned shirts, only the white/blue ones. I haven’t had any for the last 15 years or so. The reason is consistent: laundry identification. By my teenage years my shirt size became comparable to my older brothers’ and my father’s. It was an easy way for whoever was doing the ironing (which was each of us boys in rotation) to get the shirts to the correct closet. If one had a unique tattersall or Glen check there was no need for a monogram, we knew the owner.

    Now that I’m the only man in the house, by default all the shirts are mine so there is no reason for a monogram. Some of my older relatives would place the monogram about 4 inches up on the sleeve, again for identifying the owner. Like the tail monogram it would not be seen when you were out and about since you would never take your jacket off in company. The point was no one but your tailor and your launderer ever saw it, but it would be near eye-level as you hanged the ironed shorts. Very practical and kind of boring.

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  26. My uniform cardigan was monogrammed; like everyone else, it was to differentiate in a sea of navy cardigans in the gym dressing room. The only items I have with monograms today are my Boat and Tote Bags and my old Bermuda Bags (kept for sentimental reasons as a), they’re dinky abd b) they’re my maiden initials.

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  27. I have lots of monogrammed items. A friend has a great embroidery businesses and does wonderful work. She monograms the bottom edge of my long caftans. I ordered monogrammed end caps for a Nantucket basket bracelet I made....I'm needlepointing a purse strap with my monogram. All Boat & Totes, towels and my pajamas from L.L. Bean because it's free with the Bean credit card. Etc. etc....

    I draw the line at my car and tattoos, though.

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  28. I have my OCBD shirts monogrammed on the pocket, three letter diamond shape. As far as what items should be monogrammed, the Official Preppy Handbook has a tongue-in-cheek extensive list on pp. 124/5.

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  29. I have my tailor-made shirts (spread-collar French cuffs for suits, OCBDs with button cuffs for everyday) monogrammed on the left cuff, but I don't bother getting off-the-rack shirts monogrammed after the fact. Had a couple of Lands' End polo shirts monogrammed where the RL polo player or Lacoste crocodile would go, but the monograms turned out to be bigger than I'd expected -- was hoping for the modest size on my cuffs, but they were about 3/4-inch. I guess I'm OK with monograms in part because of my father, who had the same initials (I'm a III) and favored them. He had a ring with a stylized version of his initials and later used that as the logo of his company when he briefly hung out his own shingle in development/construction (into the teeth of the Reagan recession, so that didn't go well). They're initials I'm perhaps inordinately proud of.

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  30. I don't recall the last time I had anything monogrammed.
    I have inherited a few monogrammed items, and I cherish them even more because of my affection for the benefactor. It's just more personal.

    On the rare occasion that I purchase a new travel item, I tend to go with a subtle blind embossing on leather or tone on tone with fabric.

    I do like to personalize (name rather than initials) gifts for young children.

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    1. We've also have a number of monogrammed items that have come down through the family to us, both silver and linen. When did you last see a monogrammed linen (real linen) towel? The silver is a collection of odd pieces that still gets used but none of the monograms are ours. One very interesting and useful piece is a small ladle. It isn't monogrammed but it bears the badge of a British Army regiment, The Royal Fusiliers. Nobody knows how it came to be part of the family silver.

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  31. I'm a southern lady. We proudly monogram anything and everything. However, I don't see it as often on men.

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  32. So many rules! If you want to monogram your belongings, do it! Life is too short to live by someone else’s rules/preferences/expectations.

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  33. The collective’s thoughts on purses? I just got my first Lotuff and didn’t, but now I’m thinking I might have it added in the future?

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