The most polarizing word in menswear isn’t even a full word, it’s the three (or maybe two) letters that make up a set of initials. Nothing stirs the pot quite like a good old debate about monograms. Classicists have long labeled them as gauche and ostentatious while their contemporaries counter that they’re one of the rare ways in which a man can truly personalize his everyday attire. We’d venture to say that both sides are correct – yes, monograms are flashy but they’re also highly personal, and can help demarcate not just your shirt but you as a whole.
As the story goes, the monogrammed shirt came to rise at colleges as a way for undergrads to distinguish their shirts at the cleaner. The logic went that if a shirt was stitched with your initials then it was far less likely to wind up with the guy in the dorm next to you. Of course royals, and those with pockets deep enough to live as such, had long been placing their initials on everything from ashtrays to slippers, but once college students got a hold of monogramming it added a nice dose of irreverence to the whole operation.
Monogramming was no longer about your family, or where you came from, it was about you. No longer did you have to have money, or come from high society to affix your name onto something. Monogramming wasn’t about where you came from, it was about who you were. When you slipped off your sport-coat to reveal those three letters it was like wearing a jersey for a team of one. The notion of a monogram as a personal statement was soon extended beyond initials, and today men will plaster all forms of cheeky combinations on their cuffs and chests. Particularly in summer, when layers are shed and shirts often standalone, the monogram can take center stage, so go ahead and toss your own letters on there. Our only advice is, try to keep your initials smaller than Presley’s, leave the monstrous monograms to the actual kings.