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What’s in a name? the art of monogramming

With Thomas Pink’s new Made-to-Measure service, clients have the option of adding their initials to their tailor-made shirts in a tradition that dates to ancient times.

In a famous scene from the controversial book and film, American Psycho, murderous yuppie Patrick Bateman obsesses over the typography and colour (‘that’s bone’) of his business card to the point of near meltdown; obsessively comparing his to that of his identikit peers.

A serial killer he may have been but our favourite fictional psychopath was also a man of impeccable taste with an eye for the finer details. Much like the printed cards that bore his name, no doubt Bateman’s silk pyjamas and two-tone shirts would have incorporated his initials for that extra je ne sais quois.

Monogramming in the fashion world is nothing new. In fact, historians can trace evidence of monogrammed textiles and coins back to ancient civilizations (the trifecta of Rome, Egypt and Greece) and third- century China. Incorporating emblems and coats of arms into clothing and jewellery even became a mark of wealth and status in medieval England. From rudimentary symbols and decorative entwined letters in the Victorian era, monogramming has evolved to be the ultimate mark of individuality. Personalising your prized possessions – from bracelets and crystal decanters to iPhone cases – is increasingly popular. Top fashion houses have long championed monograms in their luxury wares, with Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Burberry sporting stylised logos (the latter recently updated to bear the initials of founder Thomas Burberry). Of course, a monogram needn’t always be letters but can take the form of a coat of arms in a signet ring (which actually date back to those clever ancient Egyptians), a symbol or number to delineate a special date, such as a wedding or birthday.

In tailoring, monogramming is a timeless tradition that offers both practical and fashionable benefits. A monogrammed shirt, usually comprising two or three of the wearer’s initials, is a mark of quality and individuality and delineates that the garment is tailor-made. It also makes the shirt easy to identify at the dry-cleaners (a frequent hangout of Bateman’s, alongside the video rental store).



Left Cuff


Our recently launched in-store Made-to-Measure service recalls this time-honoured Jermyn Street tradition, but with the aim of furnishing customers with modern wardrobe essentials. The finishing touch is the (optional) monogramming service, where clients are given a choice of four shirt positions: the body, left or right cuff or below the placket. The latter is a classic monogramming spot and purely for the eyes of the dry-cleaner, as it would traditionally stay discreetly tucked into trousers. In general, Europeans favour monograms on the shirt body while Americans prefer the left cuff. Letters on the shirt body may seem ostentatious yet this is a traditional quirk from the days when shirt jackets were rarely removed and would therefore cover the monogram. There is no right or wrong position, the decision simply comes down to personal preference. We offer a refined choice of two fonts – cursive or block – three sizes and five thread colours, so you can go as bold or as subtle as desired.

Monogramming is an indisputable mark of quality and timeless style dating back centuries. And a flash of monogram at your next board meeting or client dinner will no doubt draw admiring nods of approval. Just don’t start whipping out the business cards...