Make it Happen and Follow Your Dreams notebooks, $75. Be Happy notebook, $60.
Along with a new year comes new dreams, new aspirations and resolutions to improve ourselves and our lives. I recently declared “Make it Happen” my personal mantra for 2011 so when I came across this chic notebook emblazoned with those very words, I wanted it immediately! I’m thinking of getting this as my personal goal journal for the year. What better place to chronicle my hopes and aspirations than in a luxe pink leather notebook from Smythson of Bond Street?! There are several other equally colorful and stylish notebooks available at Smythson with inspirational sayings like “Follow Your Dreams, “Be Happy” and “Seize the Day.” You can check them all out here!
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 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.
A couple of years ago I picked up a copy of The Smythson Guide to Everyday Stationery, a useful reference book on the art of correspondence by Smythson of Bond Street. I originally purchased my pink leather bound edition shown above as a gift for someone else but loved it so much I ended up keeping it for myself!
The book mainly focuses on etiquette and style but is also is a primer on stationery in general, covering such topics as watermarks, paper textures, typefaces and the appropriate paper weights for various types of correspondence.
There’s also a short glossary in the back that explains printing techniques (see photo above) and defines terms like bruising (the indentation on the reverse side of die stamped or copper plate printed papers) and deckling (frilled edges).
Most useful, in my opinion, is the book’s musings on correspondence etiquette which I think any traditionalist would appreciate. Covering everything from how to correctly address an envelope and the proper wording of an invitation to the basic rules of thank you notes, this book is a must read for anyone who loves stationery as much as I do. Smythson is a brand grounded in tradition so the book is written with a tone of propriety that carries on the old-school philosophies on correspondence observed by British high society back in the late 1800s when the brand was founded. For example: “The great hostesses of the past would be revolving in their graves if they could see invitations going out without any prefixes, family names or titles, but increasingly that’s the way it goes.”
With the rise of technologies like email and text messaging, I think the simple art of the hand written note has fallen by the wayside. In our current “age of speed” it’s effortless to fire off a quick email but actually taking the time to write a note to someone conveys a certain level of thoughtfulness and is a gesture that people will really appreciate. The Smythson Guide articulates it well: “Everyone enjoys finding a hand-written envelope amongst the bills and junk mail on the door mat.”
So next time you’re thinking of sending a thank you email or an evite, get out your stationery instead and express your sentiments on paper. If you’re not sure what to say or don’t have the time to put too much thought into it, follow this wisdom from the Smythson Guide:
“People worry about writing stylish or witty letters but in the end, the intention is simply to express a sentiment, good or bad, to another person. The more sincerely you express it, the better, and the more attractive it looks, in terms of hand-writing and stationery, the more memorable it will be.”
The Smythson Guide To Everyday Stationery is available at Smythson of Bond Street.