Author Kimberly Schlegel Whitman Talks Hollywood's Obsession With Monograms
Her new book, ‘Monograms for the Home: The Art of Making Your Mark,’ reveals everything you need to know about the art of personalization and why celebs like Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon just can't get enough.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Olivia Palermo and Cara Delevingne all have been spotted in Burberry’s monogrammed ponchos; Taylor Swift went so far as to personalize her cat carriers; and Reese Witherspoon has said, “If it doesn’t breathe, I monogram it.”
In fact, that quote begins lifestyle and entertaining expert Kimberly Schlegel Whitman’s seventh and newest book, Monograms for the Home: The Art of Making Your Mark.
“I love the way Reese used her grandparents’ names to create a monogram and name for Draper James,” Whitman tells Pret-a-Reporter. “I also love the way that Elvis embellished almost everything he owned with TCB [taking care of business].” Indeed, throughout history, stars seem to have been infatuated with marking their belongings as their own.
Swift Instagrammed her sheets, embroidered with "T.S." — which is something Whitman says is typically a woman’s domain. “There are all sorts of technical rules I outline in the book. Traditional etiquette dictates that a lady’s monogram would grace linens, but a gentleman’s monogram would be on barware.” Nowadays, there seem to be few to no rules regarding what celebrities can and can’t stick their initials on, though there are some ways to do it well, which Whitman explains and suggests in the book.
“Nate Berkus told me that he has seen monogrammed toilet paper in a home before,” says Whitman, adding, “Even I have to admit that might be taking it a bit too far!” That said, monograms have been around since the Middle Ages, she says, and they reached their height of popularity in the Victorian times. Though lately they seem to be having another resurgence, thanks to designers such as Burberry, Tory Burch, Charlotte Olympia, DTLA and Jennifer Meyer making it easy to personalize everything.
“I noticed in the past couple of seasons that interior and fashion designers were incorporating them into their work, and I realized they were truly big again,” says Whitman. The reason she thinks monograms stand the test of time so well is partly due to the culture of mass production that surrounds us. Says the expert, “Having something embellished just for us is special.”