It’s no secret that geography often influences different styles and design elements. A rustic cabin at home in the Rocky Mountains might look totally out of place on the coast or in the desert. New England and California have distinct, eclectic styles all their own, as does the South. Beyond the wraparound porches, the thing that stands out to me is the ubiquitous monogram.
I’m not originally from Texas, and when I moved here 12 years ago, I was struck by how much Southerners love to put their initials on everything. Sometimes it’s subtle, stitched into the hem of a pillowcase or in tone-on-tone embroidery on a towel. Other times, it’s bolder, emblazoned on glassware or in the form of a wooden cut-out large enough to cover the front door.
I’ve learned there are traditional rules—the letter for your last name is at the center, flanked by the letters for your first and middle name—and that a lot of thought can go into the naming of a child based on their would-be monogram. I’ve heard friends make the same consideration when sizing up a potential partner. Of course, it’s not a deciding factor, but it is a factor nonetheless.
There are as many fonts and designs as there are monogram lovers. The choice in typography can make it feel masculine or feminine, formal or casual, simple or so detailed it’s almost like a family crest. You wouldn’t think three letters could say so much about a person’s aesthetic, but they do.
As a nostalgic person, I respect the history of the monogram. Its origins can be traced back to ancient civilizations when a Greek or Roman ruler’s initials appeared on coins. Artisans during the Middle Ages used their initials to sign their work, and they became a symbol of aristocracy in the Victorian era. I can also understand the practical applications for, say, a lunch box or luggage. I once had a black weekender bag monogrammed with my initials also in black. It was so subtle you had to squint to make it out—in cases like that, a monogram serves as a kind of fancy label.
It feels silly to label items in my home with my name, as if there’s a risk I will forget they belong to me. I’d say the possibility of someone walking away with my pillowcase is low.
That’s one of the reasons why, try as I might, I can’t get on board with the monogram when it comes to home décor. It feels silly to label items in my home with my name, as if there’s a risk I will forget they belong to me. I’d say the possibility of someone walking away with my pillowcase is low.
The closest I’ve gotten to incorporating this trend is displaying a small wooden “T,” my first initial, on a bookshelf in my office. Any more than that and it would make me feel self-absorbed. Granted, part of the reason is because I share a home with someone else, but even when I lived alone, I still felt that way.
I don’t judge others for proudly displaying their monogram. In fact, I think plenty of people make it look chic. It just—ironically—has never felt like me, and that’s okay. I’ve realized it’s our likes and dislikes that make us unique, more so even than our name.