Ask Alex: Monogramming

Alex Belt is a mom, business owner and all around in the know kind of gal. Friends call on her relentlessly for advice on how to plan a party and what trend is “in.” With so many options for monogramming, we’re doing what everyone else does – asking Alex!

Alex Belt

Alex Belt

Q: What is the proper etiquette for monograms?

A:  Selecting the best monogram can be tricky. Here are a few general guidelines to make it easier. For a married couple, the monogram will contain the bride’s first initial, the first letter of the couple’s surname and the groom’s first initial, in that order. For instance, Rebecca and Andrew White would be “RWA.” The monogram style should be chosen to complement the couple’s taste and the item being monogrammed – traditional, modern, whimsical and so on.

A monogrammed gift for a woman should include her first, middle and last initial or if she is married, her first, maiden name and married name initials. Traditionally, a woman’s monogram is presented in first, last, middle initial order. So, a monogram for Jessica Cites Parker could be “JPC.”

200-giftsTradition dictates that a woman’s maiden initials are always appropriate to use even after she is married. However, it is more common to use a woman’s first, maiden and married surname initials once she is wed. For instance, if Jessica married Anthony Dalton, her new monogram would be “JDP.”

For men’s gifts, it is very important to consider the shape of the item to be monogrammed when choosing the order of the initials. When monogramming something for a man, many people prefer to use the initials in the first, middle and last order. This letter format is often found on personal items such as briefcases, luggage, shirt pockets and cuffs. For these kind of items, Benjamin William Rogers would be “BWR.”

Q: Is it safe to monogram an item for a child to wear?

A: When giving a child a personalized item, it is important to consider where and how they will be using it. You may not want to put too much information on something a child will have in public when they are not in the company of a parent. For example, people will often choose to use a monogram versus a name on something like a backpack or a shirt.

Q: What is the history of the monogram?

200-boxA: Early Greek and Roman rulers used their monograms on coins and other currency to identify the ruler of the region from which it came. As time passed, it became common to mark the valuable property of nobility with a monogram. Eventually, it became common to see an aristocrat’s monogram emblazoned on a variety of items from weaponry and armor to household items, royal banners and coats of arms.

In the Middle Ages, it became common for artisans to use their own monograms to sign their work. Members of the Victorian era aristocracy often used the monogram as an emblem of their high rank in society. Early monograms also consisted of only two initials. The three-initial monogram, which is more common today, did not gain popularity until the 18th century.

More recently, the monogram has become more of a trendy identifier on a person’s belongings than a sign of wealth or status. Monogramming is a great way to add personalization to gifts and has become very common in wedding gifts. These days, it is very simple and inexpensive to add a monogram to a variety of items. Monogrammed gifts are widely favored by newlyweds as a sign of their new marriage status.  A monogrammed gift says to the receiver that you made an effort with their gift choice.

Q: Why do you love monograms?

A: Growing up in Nacogdoches, I wore Ralph Lauren, big hair bows, Cole-Haan and of course monograms. I feel that monograms are as Southern as sweet tea. Wearing a monogram makes me feel classy and elegant – from the back pocket of my blue jeans to Converse shoes to a monogram necklace.    

Q: Can you have too many things monogrammed?

A: My answer is always no!  This quote by Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorite quotes ever, and I truly believe in this: “My sheets are monogrammed. So is my silverware and pretty much everything else I own. My rule is, if it’s not moving, monogram it.”