When does a monogram cease to be elegant and tip over the side into garish or just plain wrong? It all has to do with color, size, font, and placement. There are so many choices, increasing the chances to head in the wrong direction. As with most of the items found in a man’s lifestyle, restraint should always rule the day. A gentleman should practice the virtue of restraint in all aspects of his life: conversation, drink, business, affection, sensitivity (his own), and especially wardrobe. When the time comes to choose a monogram, this restraint should by now be second nature. BUT, just in the case that this is not the case, here are a few guidelines.
Font/Type – Keep it classic. When it comes to color and style, when you keep it classic you will be correct. Again, this is a primer, so this advice is not for the experienced dandy who will inevitably go his own way. This guide is for the rest of us. On shirts or towels, luggage or wallets, the best font to choose is the classic Roman or block. These styles look great in any color on any surface, whether we are talking plush terry cloth, oxford broadcloth or canvas or leather.
Style – Unless you plan on donning a floor-length silk robe or a velvet smoking jacket and have your initials swirled upon your chest like cotton candy keep it simple. This fanciful style would be appropriate on these articles although admittedly a little too Lord Byron-having-a-sip-of-absinthe-with-Oscar Wilde for some, but SP embraces the eccentric and hence is on the lookout for a great robe at the moment. We’ve discussed the right font, so here is where we discuss the style. You can use the roof-pitch style if you like (high in the middle and lower on the sides). Just remember, your last initial is the foundation, so this would stand in the middle if there is ever any indentation up or down. Otherwise, just place it like it reads, straight across. By the way, a man should avoid using just one initial, but if you choose to do this the letter should always be your last name. Women should use the first name initial if going the single initial route as those pieces will still be useful should she change her name when married.
Placement – The most prevalent confusion seems to be where to monogram on dress shirts: Should the monogram be on the pocket, the shirt, the sleeve or the cuff? There seem to be too many choices for a man to place a monogram on a shirt and that is not always a good thing. Let’s keep it simple. Choices can be the enemy some of the time. The top of the pocket on a dress shirt or button down is good, but the left cuff of the shirt is even better (the wearer’s left). Some very preppy friends of mine in New York embrace the idea of placing a monogram on the left of the shirt at the bottom of the rib cage, which is cool, but a little ostentatious, if you ask me. It’s distracting. At first glance it looks as if they’ve got a stain or a spill. Finally, the monogram should always read from the the other’s perspective, not yours.
Color – Well, you know what SP is going to say here. Black or navy are the only choices. But I’m going to bob when you thought I would weave and say this would be too limiting. I am going to give you – and myself — free reign here. I’ve said it before, men don’t have too many opportunities to express themselves, sartorially speaking, so why not let your eccentric tendencies shine in your monogram? I mean, if you’ve followed the rules thus far you are already on the right track. You’ve chosen an appropriate font. You’ve selected the right style. You’ve placed your initials in the allowed real estate. Now go crazy with color. I am not afraid of red, pink, turquoise, yellow, orange, hell throw in a dash of purple. This is where the conservative man can express himself. Go crazy — with restraint — of course. Picasso had to learn classicism before he dove into cubism.
One of the most classic and elegant places to sport your initials is on blazer buttons. I know, I know, this can get expensive. But aren’t you investing in a really great quality blazer already? Are not you planning on finding the most classic style with a great hand on the material that you will wear often and forever? Isn’t this wise decision going to save you a small fortune because you are not a fashion victim running out to buy the latest expensive trend which will be out of style in a couple of years? If you said yes to the above, then don’t you want one of your great investment pieces of clothing to be as sharp as it can possibly be? Then invest in monogrammed blazer buttons and you will be confident in your choice.