Monograms: A Pictorial Monogram

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer/Fall 1997

Tradition calls for a woman to use her maiden name on most monograms. In theory, she was meant to have always had stationery, for instance, so the initials on it would be hers. The same applies to linens.

"Traditionally, it's inappropriate to include the husband's initial, although some brides can't bear to leave it out," says Carolina Donadio of Leron, a 75-year-old linens emporium on Madison Avenue in New York City. "Even old married ladies generally use their maiden initial." Sheets, towels, napkins, and so forth are considered part of a woman's trousseau -- assembled before she knows whom she will marry, and passed down from mother to daughter. Silver flatware, on the other hand, is apparently male territory: "If it's a one-letter monogram, it's the married initial," says Wawrynek. "With three letters, it's the initial of the husband's first name, that of his surname (slightly larger), and then the bride's first initial." Monogramming stemware has no protocol; there are no accepted rules about which initials to pick.

For most women, simply deciding whether and how to monogram raises questions. "When we ask, 'Are you taking your husband's name?' " says Lewis, "often, they haven't decided yet. Monogramming is a rite of passage, a real identity crisis." One woman might use her married name on everything; another might select some combination of her initials and her husband's initials, and still others choose to ignore monogramming traditions altogether.

The monogram on Martha Kostyra Stewart's distinctive stationery -- an engraved seventeenth-century cornucopia design she discovered in an old book and paired with simple, embossed initials (below) -- looks wonderful as white-on-white embroidery near the opening of her American-style pillowcase and at the center of the return on a duvet cover (above). Embroidered initials alone (on the smaller pillowcase, at left) look sleek -- and they cost less, too.

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