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A Southern Stationery Wardrobe

Southerners know that sending a thoughtful letter, an appreciative thank you note, or quick message of support or encouragement is often one of the best gifts you can give

Southerners know that sending a thoughtful letter, an appreciative thank you note, or quick message of support or encouragement is often one of the best gifts you can give—any time of year.

Something handwritten seems even more special now, in the era of casual texts and emails. That’s why we turned to the fine folks at North Carolina’s Arzberger Stationers—who have been preserving the art of personal stationery for over eighty-five years—to help us brush up on our proper correspondence knowledge and etiquette. Below you’ll find an interpretation of a traditional stationery “wardrobe” and a refresher course on how to use each piece from Arzberger Stationers Creative Director Elizabeth Edwards. “I love the authentic, personal nature of our business,” says Edwards. “I love starting with a blank piece of paper and producing a product unlike anyone else’s.”

A Full Stationery Wardrobe

– Seeing all the pieces together illustrates the range of inks, papers, monograms, and liners available and how the designs can work together beautifully as a whole (here, Edwards stuck to a palette of indigos, blues, blacks, silvers, golds, and whites).

The Mrs. Wardrobe

Informal stationery used for thank you notes. Expert tip: A flat or folded card is appropriate, as are fun liners, monograms, bright colors, and neutrals.

Formal stationery emblazoned with a monogram or full name. Expert tip: The look can be feminine, tailored, or contemporary but sticking with neutral shades maintains versatility.

Gift cards or gift folders marked with a name or monogram for use on gifts to close friends. Expert tip: Write a short message to honor the recipient and slide it under the ribbon on the gift. For less formal use, skip the envelope, punch a hole in the corner, and tie it to the gift.

The Mr. Wardrobe

Correspondence cards and full sheets for professional notes or thank you notes. Expert tip: The full name should appear in neutral ink and block type. For longer letters, full sheets should fold to fit in the same envelope as the flat card.

The Mr. and Mrs. Wardrobe

Correspondence cards and/or sheets that bear the formal name or family crest of the couple for use in responding to formal invitations. Expert advice: Correspondence should be signed by the correspondent alone. Others, such as a spouse, may be mentioned in a note, but the signature should be from the note writer.

Fill-in invitations for special events at home. Expert advice: Save these invitations for a small but honored guest list.

Calling cards for use on gifts to family and friends. Expert advice: For formal use, enclose in an envelope and include in the box with the gift. 

The Lady’s Wardrobe and the Gentleman’s Wardrobe

For a single woman, a wardrobe could include a folded sheet for thank you notes and calling card for use with gifts. Expert advice: The folded note can be marked with a full name or monogram and the calling card just the full name, in neutral ink.

For a single man, a wardrobe could include and engraved flat card with the full name in neutral ink and a calling card for use with gifts. Expert advice: This rule has often been lost in modern times, but typically a man should not write on a folded notecard.

The process of creating a stationery wardrobe is a fun and collaborative one. “Clients who are interested in designing a full suite usually contact me directly,” says Edwards, who works with four other on-staff designers on her projects. “We start the process of sourcing monograms, typestyles, and papers. Papers may come from as far away as India, Japan or Italy. Sometimes, we are able to pull from our own collection of monograms and motifs. Other times, we commission design to an artist.”