A gold chain necklace with the initial R.
FASHION & STYLE

Monogram Madness Dates Back To Charlemagne

Growing up in Texas, I have seen and experienced many Southern trends, but nothing compares to monogram obsession. The art of monogramming is probably the most popular and far-reaching tradition in the South. A monogram is a design made from the initials of one’s name. People in the South monogram everything from clothes, shoes, towels and linens to furniture and technology accessories.

We even monogram the food we eat and the soap we use to clean our hands. We personalize umbrellas and wear initialed baseball caps when it’s sunny. Name it – I guarantee it has been monogrammed. Whether it is a simple T-shirt, a shower curtain, or a car decal, Southerners love to plant their initials on everything we find. Why do we do it? And why can we never get enough of it?

According to RubberStamps.com, the earliest known evidence of a monogram is on 6th century B.C. Roman coins that were marked with the ruler’s initials. Charlemagne is most often credited with creating the monogram. He used it to mark his military conquests. Monograms have historically been a symbol of power. Others throughout history have used monograms to sign artwork and stamp envelopes. Today, many popular high-end brands, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, use monograms as their logos.  

Why do most people choose to get something monogrammed? Why is it such a popular business in the South? I reached out to popular monogram shops and boutiques in Alabama and Mississippi. 

Shannon Britton, owner of Southern Proper Monogramming in Montgomery, Alabama, believes her customers choose monograms for decoration and status. It is a Southern tradition for all ages and both sexes. While there is more demand for girls’ and women’s products, she said men and boys are also interested in personalized items, such as blazer buttons or boxer briefs. She believes monogramming is a way to show planning and thoughtfulness. 

“Whether the item is for you personally, your home, or for a gift, you must plan and think ahead to have it monogrammed,” says Britton, who has been monogramming for over 23 years. “What a lovely assurance to your recipient that you were thinking just of them!”

Having once monogrammed a hammer, Britton said monogramming a random item gives it a story. “In the South, we are anchored to the past, and we love it that way,” she said. “Monograms take a simple item and give it meaning and history. Because so many antiques are monogrammed, it gives us all a direction and order to do the same thing. We are so proud of our family name and where we come from. A monogram reminds us of that every time we see it.”

Whitney Worsham, an independent monogrammer from Corinth, Mississippi, said Southerners pay attention to detail and want things to be special. She believes monogramming makes items personal and her clients monogram for personalization and fashion. 

“I think monogramming will always be around,” said Worsham. “Everybody loves to see their initials on something. Especially new moms love to see their baby’s initials for the first time on their little belongings. So as long as there are new babies, new brides, and high school seniors, monogramming will live on.”

Unlike most trends, monogramming hasn’t faded in popularity, and it seems doubtful it ever will go away. It is always evolving, picking up new styles and fonts. There is a story behind every set of initials. 

Monograms are about tradition, history and heritage. In the South, initials appear at Baptisms, weddings, graduations, birthdays, and every important and special moment in a person’s life. A monogram represents family, identity, and the Southern hospitality we all know and love.

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