I have fond memories of receiving my first set of personalized stationery. When I was 6 or 7 my mom surprised me with a set of pink, purple and sea green folded note cards, note pads and envelopes with little seashells all over and I thought it was beyond cool that my name was printed on them. I would always find excuses to write notes to people just so I could use it. Nowadays personal correspondence is all about speed and convenience. The prevalence of email has made correspondence quite impersonal and new innovations like text messaging and Twitter make the process of communicating quite thoughtless, reducing our words to a mere 140 characters. Handwritten correspondence is a dying art. It’s easy to send off an email but taking the time to hand write a note conveys a thoughtfulness and a level of sophistication that an email will never be able to capture.
My chic & simple correspondence cards from Neiman Marcus
These days my stationery preference is a flat correspondence card and I can’t resist a colorful tissue-lined envelope. I use my stationery often…for jotting off quick thank you’s, sending notes along with packages or even just a a simple to say hi. My personalized correspondence cards shown above were a relatively inexpensive buy from Neiman Marcus but also I love to splurge on top quality ready-to-write stationery from brands like Smythson of Bond Street and a handful of others. It’s such a treat for myself and I get great pleasure out of using it. If you’re not sure where to go for chic social stationery, below are my top 5 picks. Can you guess which is my favorite? (See my desk above!)
Smythson of Bond Street
Smythson of Bond Street is one of my favorite sources for social stationery. In 1887 Frank Smythson opened his eponymous shop on New Bond Street and quickly became the preferred stationer of London’s upper crust. The company’s heritage for creating the finest luxury paper goods is still alive more than 120 years later. Smythson’s “Stiletto” and “Skull & Crossbones” correspondence cards are my top picks from the their vast array of bespoke and ready-to-write stationery. Stiletto Correspondence Cards, $84 for 10 and Skull & Crossbones Correpsondence Cards, $50 for 10.
Bernard Maisner, who might just be the most exceptionally skilled calligrapher alive, is also a renowned stationer. In fact, he is a favorite stationer among the fashion set with a client roster that includes Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. Bernard Maisner offers luxe ready-to-write and custom stationery with copperplate engraved designs on 100% cotton archival paper. His hand painted papers, like the butterfly motif cards below, are literally works of art. The butterfly motif is engraved in gold then each card is hand painted and finally the edges are finished off by hand in a shocking pink. Beyond chic. These are a splurge at $100 for 8 cards.
Dempsey & Carroll
This 130-year-old stationer, founded in New York City, is known for their quality stationery made with the highest standards and attention to detail. Their papers are hand engraved using fine inks and cotton papers. Dempsey and Carroll offers a great selection of chic boxed set stationery that includes limited-edition collaborations with the likes of interior designer Celerie Kemble, event planner Bronson Van Wyck and fashion designer Lela Rose. I love Bronson Van Wyck’s Snake Border cards below which feature a richly textured engraved snake border with a hand painted red eye detail. The envelopes are lined in a faux snake print paper. This incredibly chic set is $65 for 10 cards and envelopes.
Luke Pontifell was just a precocious high school student when he founded Thornwillow Press in 1985 after taking a book binding course and falling in love with the art. Nearly 30 years later Thornwillow press is still in the business of binding, printing and publishing exquisite books but is also now one of the foremost purveyors of fine engraved and letterpress stationery. I’m a big fan of their Initial Note Cards, shown below, which are available in three colorways with colored edges and matching tissue lined envelopes. At $45 for 10 cards and envelopes, these are amazing value for the quality. Thornwillow’s Motif cards are available in more than 100 motifs and my top three picks are also pictured below. The Peacock Feather motif is $48 for 10 cards and lined envelopes. The Lightning Bolt and Bicycle motif cards are each $35 for a set of 10 cards.
A newcomer on the social stationery scene, Sugar Paper is an LA based company with a sweet offering of custom and ready-to-write papers. The Sugar Paper collection is youthful and stylish, offering a modern spin on tradition. I’m loving the gold foil printed Crown Noteset shown below which is $36 for 10 cards and envelopes. Also shown below is one of Sugar paper’s custom designs – a super cute scalloped edge note set.