I've been noticing a lot of monogramming lately...a rash of it if you will. Starting as a small itch, it's spread infectious disease-like from magazine to reader, friend to friend until every available surface has been monogrammed and personalised.

How has this happened?

Monogramming started for a fairly basic reason - it was the historic way of labelling your valuable linens when they were sent to the local washwoman for their laundering. The only way you'd get your own tablecloth/ napkins/ bed linen back was to make sure that your monogram was large and distinctive and hard to miss.



If you had servants, you'd monogram your silver to ensure that they did not steal it and sell it from under you.


So fast forward a few hundred years, and why do we have monogramming? Perhaps because essentially, we are all narcissists who like to see our initials and names on everything. I fall victim to this as well - one reason why I love Hermes clic clac enamel bracelets is for the giant H on them. Romy has a little collection of the letter "R" so clearly an infatuation with your own initial is not uncommon.


I think part of this recent embracing of the monogram comes from preppy echelons in the US - monogramming seems to be embraced in a big way on the East Coast and in the South. It does seem that this has historically always been the case - I have a children's novel from America written in the 1920's in which the heroine, who was an orphan, had an obsession, as I remember it, with creating a monogram from her initials "NN" and feeling inferior to her school friends because hers did not look quite so exciting as theirs.


Another reason why monogramming has spread like a rash recently comes from technology - it's now very easy to order personalisation of your linens and household items, it used to be something that had to be looked for and done only by specialised companies, such as a silversmith or bespoke embroidery service. Now you can order your custom monogram wedding Koozies (known less prosaicly as Stubbie holders in Australia). Somehow the monogram is supposed to make this item a little bit posher.



So when does the monogramming go a step too far?

Perhaps when your guests are reminded when sitting down on your monogrammed slipcovered chair to pick up your monogrammed napkin from your monogrammed place mat that they are, in face, in your house, and not someone else's?


Or perhaps when your monogrammed pillows have bred while you were out of the room, and you return to find they have shed their offspring on every available surface to the detriment of any other form of decoration?



This could actually be useful if you lost your sunglasses I suppose


But I do think that monogramming your lamp shade is a bridge too far


So, my conclusion after much thought is that I blame Martha Stewart. Ultimately she is responsible for reviving the monogram. Her love of antique linens and silver popularised it again, and then elevated it to personalise a Wedding/ event/ home. Of course the main problem is that this brought it to the attention of the masses, and monogramming has subsequently been bastardised by the General Population, who have a complete inability to control themselves and have monogrammed everything within sight. It's one of those things where more is not necessarily better. 

So don't by any means stop monogramming things... just do it judiciously. A little monogramming goes a long, long way. 

30 comments:

  1. LOL!! You have somehow managed to make this all so funny ;p You're right, people forget the origins but now some people have more monogramming that the Queen. But those stubbie holders are something that Kath and Kim might have - mind you I love them so I must get it to show my friends here as part of a cultural exchange. Funny though you mention the H bracelets bc I only have one for that precise reason. If they were N bracelets I would probably have them in every color! If I start giggling to myself later and someone asks me what I am laughing about, I might have to lie and make up a story bc if I say I am laughing about monogramming then they might think I am mental. xx

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    1. I couldn't believe they have stubbie holders in the US, and that they monogram them too!! You should definitely get some. I definitely have a thing for Hermes due in large part to the H being on everything. I want a belt, more clic clacs, the bags that have the H as the clasp (can't remember what they're called).... if it was a C, I wouldn't be even remotely so interested. Funnily enough one of the morning teas I was at last week there was a girl I know called Chloe, and she had a black Chloe handbag... how could you resist?! xx

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  2. I must admit to not being that big on monogramming. Mainly because all of my washing is done in-house these days and hence no worries re thieving laundresses!!

    I did have some personalised note paper at one point but felt a bit pretentious so stopped using it and reverted to sausage dog notecards instead....

    I have never been brilliant at pretending to be something I am not so unlikely to get on the monogrammed band wagon anytime soon - although it would have been handy to monogram the kids when they were younger in case they got lost! Although I think the authorities take a dim view of tattoos on small children.

    Loved the high tea post too. Looked very glam and the combination of champagne and cake always makes me happy.

    Take care.

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    1. Yes, no monogrammed linen here either. Sadly mine is all done by me as well! I like your sausage dog cards - why not have Herbie the Wonderdog on them instead of your name? I'm now off to google monogram tattoo... I'm sure someone out there has done it (I remember reading someone doing their family crest... Klassy). High tea was fun.. I seem to do them about once ever 2-5 years on average though! xx

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  3. Would be even klassier if your monogrammed tatt matched your monogrammed stubbie holder.....

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  4. I love some of those fancy monogrammes but agree you could take things a bit far. I've never thought of having my own initials on anything! x

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    1. I think with Pottery Barn opening in Australia (they do monogramming on all sorts of things) it's really going to take off here... maybe not quite on everything, like in the US, but you never know! xx

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  5. I sat at a staff lunch table at a US hospital when I was away last month, and 75% of the table occupants had monogrammed lunch cooler bags. I found myself browsing Etsy that night for something similar, before I realised what I was actually doing and stepped away from the ipad. I do love the photographs of the monogrammed antique linen though...monogramming certainly can have its place!

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    1. That's so funny!! Talk about subliminal Peer Pressure! I do love antique linen, and wouldn't care if it had my initials on it or not... but I think that's because it's so beautifully embroidered, which is an entirely different matter. xx

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  6. This blog post couldn't have come at a better time! Every single word of this post, hit the nail on the head.
    I actually really would like to have some monogrammed bedding. By "some" I mean, just 1 item as in a little pillow, or 2 pillow cases or euro cases. NO MORE! I would definitely cap it at that. I think it is really sweet to have your married monogram on such a private place as your bed. I don't understand having your monogram in guest areas, like monogrammed hand towels in a guest bathroom/powder room. I think that is pretentious. Like you said in your post, people will know they are in your house, you don't have to spell it out. If and when I do go about facilitating this bedding. It will be high quality, really special and thoughtful, and just not willy nilly, frivolous, on a whim choice as I stand at the Pottery Barn check out.
    In a blog post I will publish in the next few days, I actually bought my daughter a monogrammed bib for her to wear at the reception of her Baptism. It is really cute, with the scalloped edge. I think having a monogram is less in your face then spelling out her name. But I did want her identifiable with the bib and it about her and to make her special, plus, she is a spewy baby! A bib is a necessity

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    1. I don't mind the monogram on a bed, but I think if you do the pillows, just leave it at that, as you said! The bib sounds really cute. I bought a friend some monogrammed bloomers for her little baby girl, she loved them as she had lots of little dresses without matching ones, they were from Pottery Barn. Looking forward to seeing your post on it! xx

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    2. Just when I thought nothing else cuold be conceived by the bloated wedding industry along comes those stubbie holders.

      Looking at all the monograms.. like everyone I think it can be overdone as that table setting is

      Pottery barn has just openend at Bondi Junction I'll pop up let you know what I think, its going tobeinteresting to see if it can pull customers away from Westfield

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    3. I'm pretty sure the wedding industry has almost covered every conceivable must have for the big day, but every now and again they think up another genius idea!! Would love to hear what you think of Pottery Barn - I'm thinking it's going to be verrrry successful, and the monogramming is going to hit Australia in a big way. xx

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  7. Great post Heidi... very witty and well written. People are completely monogram crazy in the States and I agree that the blame lies with Martha!
    I like a bit of monogramming... it is a bit euro chav but I have found myself drawn to the monogramming service at Goyard recently. I don't think I would ever really consider getting any linens monogramed and haven't seen to many people doing that in the UK. I have occasionally seen men with their shirts monogrammed on the cuff or near the buttons. I think they are trying to tell everyone that they went to an expensive school/have read Debretts. It makes me chuckle. I will probably chuckle more next time after having read your post.

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    1. Euro Chav - love it!! You've made me die laughing!! When I googled monogrammed tattoo, I came across a man with an entire sleeve (arm) covered in the LV monogram like a handbag... a definite Chav if ever there was one!

      Had forgotten about the shirts - is that popular amongst the Bankers in the city? They tend to get some fad and run with it.... Glad I amused you! xx

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  8. Bought Romy a gold R today.!!! x

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    1. She'll love it - you've got a thing for your initial too if I remember correctly? Just as well it's not an H or Hermes would be cleaned out of stock! xx

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  9. This post made me chortle!!
    I'm not a fan of monogramming.. Not sure why, perhaps it's a hangover from my British upbringing. Love old, proper monogrammed silver and linen, but can't see the point of it now - seems pretentious and unecessary. Plus my staff wouldn't dare to steal my silver or linen!!!
    However, I wouldn't say no to one of those monogrammed stubbie holders ;-)

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    1. I'd say its a definite British thing there- I haven't noticed monogramming of anything in a big way. Australians are definitely embracing the American trend. We have a set of silver, all the same pattern, but bits came from different sets, and so have different monograms on the handles. It's kind of fun seeing what each course ends up with.
      Get a monogrammed stubbie holder. Your life will be complete! xx

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  10. I just love the monogrammed linen in your first image. I have a friend who picks up similar pieces second-hand whenever she visits the markets in France and I covet it! The rest you can keep!

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    1. The linen is quite beautiful isn't it? Such skill in the embroidery - why is it all in France too??? It seems it was a very European thing to do. xx

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  11. It's so funny isn't it? That something posh starts for very practical reasons and then is purloined for status. In the US we have this monogrammed stuff up the wazzoo, very preppy, though I see the point for kids' stuff. Those linens at the top are just gorgeous and authentic and real. I also love this - do any colour for your linens! In London I remember quoting Debretts (sp?) someone or other in an article I wrote saying that linens, towels and toilet paper should be white - i say rebel!!!

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    1. You must see it absolutely everywhere - it does seem to be incredibly common in the US. As for the colour of your linen... I do like white, maybe because it always seems so clean and fresh... but coloured toilet paper?? Not sure I've seen any in years, only the patterned stuff with shells and fish on it! xx

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  12. Love Romy's "R" collection but the lamp and the monogrammed CEW bedding are way too much!! Hope things are moving along nicely on the house front. Jo xx

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    1. I love Romy's collection too! House is moving along this week - lots of action and loud noise! Have a great week Jo xx

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  13. Hi Heidi. I do love your topic choices! This one is quite ironic for me however, as I have spent the best part of two months searching high and low for vintage/antique silver monogrammed flatware. I love monograms on antiques, and am having great fun in the hunt. Whilst it can be charming on new items, small doses is definitely the answer! Hope the current monogram craze doesn't 'devalue' the beautiful originals. Also, I have been meaning to ask you if you wouldn't mind following up a post you did some time ago on finishes/appliances you do not recommend (e.g. 2pac)? I was wondering about what finish choices you do recommend? Thanks so much. Tammy

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    1. Hi Tammy, that sounds like a wonderful project. I bought a Tiffany & Co silver tea strainer from 1880 with my daughters initials monogrammed on the handle... it was only $60, which I thought was quite reasonable compared to the price of new silverplate ones. A set of flatware with your monogram on the handle would be wonderful if they're antique.
      I will do a followup post on the kitchen stuff - that seems to be one of my most popular posts, and I'm finally nearing completion of my kitchen plans (hooray!). I'll post on appliances next week as I'm going to be finalising choices then, and I'll post on finishes and my plans probably the week after, once I've finished all the drawings off properly. xx

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  14. I love the monogramming craze, but of course in small doses too!

    I went to pottery barn kids and bought some towels for my kids and got them monogrammed with their names on them. Basically, to save my sanity from washing towels again when everyone mixes them up in our house.

    The bedding is lovely, but I do think a couple of pillows would do, not every doona cover, sheets etc. needs to be monogrammed.

    Beer stubbie holders! Where can I get a set? :)

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    1. Everyone seems to have their own personal threshold for monogramming! I think kids stuff monogrammed is a good idea - I have towels with the kids names on them too, saves a lot of arguing.
      I think we all need a set of stubbie holders in our lives. They'll add a certain class to our next BBQ's! xx

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