The shirt monogram. How did it all start? Back in days of old, when men took their shirts to the cleaner (I recommend doing your own shirts at home for longer life and better care, especially if you have expensive ones), the monogram was there to identify who the owner of the shirt was. It wasn't really meant to be seen by the public. They were usually placed inside the collar, on the tail, or at the bottom of the placket - all out of sight.
Look real close to see the white on white monogram on the inside of the collar in the photo below.
In today's world, the shirt monogram is something that adds a little style detail, and is also usually an indicator of a higher quality shirt. Where should the monogram be placed? When it comes to style rules, things aren't always black and white. Some prefer to stick hard and fast to the traditional, others learn how to bend the rules while still maintaining style and class ... but sometimes it's a matter of opinion.
In regards to the shirt monogram, some feel that it is pretentious when placed in a highly visible spot. The most popular visible spot is the sleeve cuff. According to one of my contacts at Brooks Brothers Hyde Park, in his experience the two most popular placements today are the sleeve cuff and the breast pocket.
There are some variations on how you can make these two placements. You can see the different sleeve placements offered by Charles Tyrwhitt in this diagram below, as well as one pocket placement.
For the breast pocket placement, there are several variations such as; left top, right top, center top, center-center, and just above the pocket in all of the previous listed locations. I don't have any of those placements, but my friend Raymond likes to have his on the pocket at the top center as you can see in the next photo. The breast pocket is somewhat more subtle as it's only seen when your jacket is open or taken off.
Not all merchants offer all possible placements. Some only offer a few, but one of my favorites, Brooks Brothers, seems to offer the most.
Brooks Brothers offers 9 possibilities for monogram placement:
- Above Pocket
- Left Cuff Above Watch
- Bottom Edge of Left Cuff
- Vertical Between Pocket and Button Placket
- Center Pocket
- Center Left Cuff
- Top Pocket
- Left Forearm
- Left Waist
As stated previously, some consider conspicuously placed initials to be ostentatious. I do a little of both. I have several on my left cuff, above my watch as shown here. (Add an Old Fashioned in your hand for more swagger.)
My favorite monogram positions are two of the less popular ones, for three reasons. 1) I like to do things differently than most people, 2) it adds a little savoir faire, and 3) it's sexy to have something hidden that is later revealed when your jacket swings open, or comes off - kind of like lingerie.
As most gentlemen know, when you sit, you unbutton your jacket. While sitting at the bar with a friend, with my jacket opened, he noticed my monogram on my left stomach and asked why I put it there. I explained it to him as I did above. This placement is usually 4 - 5 inches above the trouser's waistline. It's subtle and chic.
You can also see that I have red lettering to match one of the colors in the shirt pattern.
The next placement is even more hidden and is only revealed when you remove your jacket. It is the left forearm, and is about 4 - 5 inches from the bottom of your cuff, about an inch or so in front of the sleeve placket.
Lastly, here is a diagram from Wikipedia that shows varying shirt monogram positions.
Do you monogram your shirts? If so, which placements do you use?