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Monograms

I got a new Boat and Tote for Christmas. I giggled when we headed off to Christmas breakfast with all the Clark girls carrying monogrammed bags. It got me thinking about how popular monograms are here in North Carolina.

Over the years, I’ve seen them on everything from cars to scarves. And it’s not a fad. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when they weren’t popular. I bet Mamaw wouldn’t have been able to think of such a time either!

Mamaw and Papaw’s house was loaded with monograms. You could find them on both the screen doors and the silverware. They bought my first monogrammed jewelry when I was about 9. I guess that’s where my obsession began.

So how did monograms become popular in the Old North State?

Monograms’ roots can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used them as identifying seals on money. During the Middle Ages, artisans used them to sign their work. Later, Victorian aristocrats adopted them as a symbol of status.

The Victorian format (first initial, accentuated last initial, and middle initial) placed emphasis on family. Once tied to family tradition, their popularity was solidified in Southern households where heritage is a meaningful concept. After they earned favor in the area, our affinity for regional history and culture ensured we’d keep the tradition going.

Monogramming Etiquette

Not only have we kept the tradition going, but we’ve developed rules of etiquette surrounding monograms. Those rules are:

  • Single initial items are traditionally created out of the first letter of the surname, whether someone is married or not.
  • Three lettered monograms for an individual should follow the Victorian format.
  • Double initial pieces have letters of equal sizing.
  • Married monograms feature the wife’s first initial to the left of the surname and the husband’s to the right.

And though it’s not exactly a rule, one should definitely follow Reese Whitherspoon’s advice: “…if it’s not moving—monogram it.

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