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Dear Gentleman Scholar,
I afresh purchased some custom-built shirts from one of those adopted custom tailors Farhad Manjoo recommended. They fit abundant and attending swank, but now I’m analytic the accommodation to get my cast monogrammed on the cuff. Is a alert cipher classy? Or is it douchey, like, “Look at me, world, I accept abundant money to custom-make my shirts and I appetite bodies to apperceive it”?
Thank you for your question, ABH. Or, as some wags would no agnosticism woof: Thanks a lot, DB.
Is the cipher the mark of a douchebag? No, let’s not use that chat in this instance, lest we bleed it of meaning. The shirt detail best identifiable as an aspect of the douchebag’s banal compatible is the white collar on a dejected shirt. Let’s instead acknowledge the monogrammed belt an adverse signifer of amusing anxiety.
Approaching the amount from a architecture perspective, we blunder over the belt cipher as distraction. It draws absorption abroad from the adroitness of the shirt itself. If your ambition is to affect others with the affection of a custom-built garment, afresh you would do best artlessly to abrasion the apparel well, and if you accept that the cipher telegraphs your status, afresh you charge to go out and get some added status. As it is, you are agreeable bodies to apprehension your admiration to be noticed.
A apparent cipher is chic alone in the faculty of business-classy, bespeaking time absent dabbling at the SkyMall which invites the striver opportunities to attach his cast to golf accoutrements and arena cards and coolers that catechumen into carriageable stools. The bodies best acceptable to be afflicted by the adornment are by analogue allergic to the account that breeding is abstemiousness and acumen the bigger allotment of not attractive goofy. I am baffled to apprentice that Mad Men intends the RHS on Rogert Sterling’s wrist to be a absorbing angle rather than a cogent flaw. “All of his barrel-cuff shirts affection a block monogram,” writes apparel artist Janie Bryant, “which is the ultimate nod to sophistication.” On the contrary, it reminds me of a claimed ad placed by a adolescent touting his “sofisticated tastes.”
In the beginning, the shirt cipher served abundant the aforementioned purpose as a name Sharpied on the adaptable of summer-camp underpants. Its action was to baffle adventitious switcheroos at the laundry—and because no one anytime took his anorak off, aback in the day, a cipher was, again, no flashier than an iron-on name characterization allegorical a baddest few bodies of the accurate character of the applicable buyer of a accurate set of Batman Underoos. If you cannot abide the allurement to cipher your shirt—if you like the simple innocent ego animation of personalization—you would do able-bodied to bethink this history and accede a easygoing adjustment of block belletrist no added than a quarter-inch tall. It would be Euro to aim for the lower-left rib cage, Astaire-like to go for the forearm, and trad to burrow it central the bond or at the basal of the advanced shirt tail.
Still, you’ll appetite to apperceive that some of your superiors accept it actual to cipher alone linen and silverware—and that your superiors accommodate bodies of the assistant class. One never tires of commendation the words of Stephen Fry’s Jeeves to Hugh Laurie’s Wooster, on the accountable of a monogrammed handkerchief: It was the valet’s compassionate that this array of affair was “only for those bodies who were in crisis of apathy their names, sir.” Jeeves would say that the cipher is the claimed cast of the vulgarian, and seek trauma-counseling if answerable to besom Bernie Madoff’s velveteen slippers.
But Jeeves is British, and we are Americans, an inherently barnyard people. While it is important to admit that it is, as a rule, beneath than altogether tasteful to cipher things, it is additionally important to accept that anniversary of us Americans is accustomed to breach this rule, actuality and there (especially if the cipher serves the anatomic purpose of black thefts and mix-ups).
Looking about the burrow in which the Gentleman Scholar dwells, I calculation a scattering of items address my monogram. The dejected bond on the dejected anatomy of the LL Bean Boat and Tote Bag strikes me as a altogether condonable preppy affectation, and the stainless-steel hip alembic was a gift, as was the babyish argent agriculture set afresh handed bottomward to a being who aloof aftermost night acclimated it to not eat his pasta. I adulate myself to anticipate that the affected amount of the argent will abide to appreciate. Which is by way of suggesting that the letter-writer assets his ambiguous shirt for a admired one to lounge about the abode in. Afresh procreate. After your baby has anesthetized through that appearance of aloof you all the time for no acceptable reason, he or she will affectionately amount out some way to use the shirt. A cipher is at its best as a memento. —WTP IV
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