The ABCs Of Monogramming

I once received a letter from a Hollywood producer who wanted to get a jump on his holiday gifting obligations. He wondered if giving monogrammed towels meant using his monogram or that of the recipient. (Can you imagine?)

Another reader asked how, exactly, one should arrange the initials on engraved flasks for her bridesmaids. (“Really?” I wanted to press. “Flasks for the bridesmaids, not the groomsmen?”)

This is why Mama Manners thinks Los Angeles is practically a foreign country. And why I think it’s the most fascinating city on earth.
In any case:
  • If you’re giving someone a monogrammed gift, it should most certainly bear his or her initials, not yours.
  • The order of those initials usually goes like this: first name, last name, middle name. The initial that stands for the last name is often slightly larger than the other two letters. For example, Annabel M. Manners would have cocktail glasses that read AMM.
  • Monograms for guys sometimes appear in sequential block letters. A fella named Coleman S. Tate might wear oxford cloth shirts that are monogrammed CST.
  • If Annabel were to marry Coleman, their sheets might say ATC, for Annabel and Coleman Tate.
  • Sometimes monogrammed gifts for couples feature only the wife’s initials. (Let’s face it: girls are the ones who care about these things.) Thus I could use AMT, for Annabel Manners Tate.
  • There are many different styles of monogramming, from block letters and diamond bracket patterns to girly, swirly script. It’s really just a matter of personal taste.
For further reading, you might want to consult The Official Preppy Handbook (now out of print but surely available in used bookstores). There’s a handy list of what to monogram (things like ice buckets, tennis dresses, and doormats) and what not to monogram (suits, dog collars, and automobiles).
As for the bride-to-be, please email me if you’re reading this! I’m dying to know what you’re getting the groomsmen.
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