An easy rule — the fewer details the better.
The Two Acceptable Details: Pockets and Monograms Pockets
If you have use for a pocket, you should have one. It is an acceptable feature of a business dress shirt, and is the preference of 90% of our customers.
A monogram, tastefully done and placed, can be the final touch of elegance that transforms a shirt from a quality garment to a personal expression that makes that shirt uniquely yours. The monogram’s popularity has increased and is now accepted in even the most conservative environments.
Whether or not to monogram your shirt is a very personal decision.
We asked Ethel Stern, owner of Monogram It! in New York, what the monogram says about the person wearing the shirt. “The monogram’s ultimate message is, ‘I am an important person,’” says Mrs. Stern. She points out, however, that “the message should be followed by the words, ‘in my humble opinion,’ so the monogram must be understated.”A monogram that is too bold, or too large, or appears in more than one place on the shirt counteracts this idea and loses its class and distinction and becomes garish and gaudy. Rule to remember, use initials — not complete names and stay no more than 1/4" high. and you will be safe.
Many men choose to monogram because a monogram has always been perceived as belonging on custom or more expensive shirts. They feel that with monograms, their shirts will be perceived as more expensive. Not only is this debatable, but this is not a reason to monogram a shirt.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, does not wear monogrammed shirts, while Prince Charles does. John Kennedy always had a small JFK embroidered on his pocket or sleeve.
The point is that there are just as many men who like monograms as who don’t. So, only monogram if you like it!
Historically, the pocket has been the most popular place for a monogram — top center or middle of the pocket are the two most common choices. With the growing popularity of the French cuff, the left cuff has become a common choice for the cuff link wearer, especially in the United States. Shirts without pockets are typically monogrammed where the pocket would be, or lower on the left panel (about five to six inches up from the waist) — the “European” placement. Other placements we have seen are on the sleeve, just above the elbow (popular with our Japanese clients) and the tail of the shirt (used mostly for laundry identification).
Good taste should be the final arbiter in choosing the color for your monogram.
The monogram color may match or be contrasted with the color of the shirt. The more conservative approach is to match the color, e.g., using a navy monogram on a blue shirt, burgundy on a burgundy stripe, etc. Two colors that are neutral and appropriate for all suits and ties are gray and navy. You may want to use the same color and style on all your shirts, regardless of their color, as a sort of trademark that never varies.
White-on-white is very understated and is sometimes used just for laundry identification purposes. As a matter of fact, when the practice of monogramming began in the seventeenth century, the purpose was to put the family mark on valuable linens. The type of jacket worn in those days did not even allow the shirt to show. It was not until the twentieth century, when jackets started coming off, that the monogram was seen.
Once you have chosen a style, color, and placement for your monogram, you must decide on hand-made versus machine-made monograms. The handmade monograms are raised more than the machine-made versions, and they can usually be made smaller, if desired. Of course, as with any handmade item, the cost is greater.
If you choose a monogram style in which the middle initial is larger than the other two, it is customary to put the initial letter of your surname in the center. When all three letters are the same size, your first, middle and last initials will be in order.