Thursday, January 22, 2009

And then I grew up

One of those things that drives me straight up the semi-etiquette wall is the choice of personal stationary a woman of my age occasionally makes. This is a transitional time where wardrobe choices of both the apparel and stationery genres need to be considered carefully. One is not a child anymore and therefore the ruthless and occasionally juvenile motifs of the if-I-wear-pink-and-green-that-makes-me preppy-old-money-right? delusion, ugh, I mean, revolution, should begin to wain if not disappear altogether in one's early thirties. Or a good deal sooner for real tastefulness: For example, when you hung out your shingle as a lawyer at age 26.

Even though 32 seems quite young and certainly acts it at times, there is a good chance you are a professional now, or some other grown-up thing. Your choice in papers should reflect that you understand, to some degree, that there is less whimsy and more serious life issues causing you to whip out pen and paper.

Not, that whimsy is unacceptable, it has times and places. If you are of a mind to order a "real life" suite or papers and a "whimsy" set, then by all means. But at least be sure you've got a proper piece of paper on which to decline, accept, congratulate, sympathize...

Here is what began this thought process. This Whitney English who designs lovely stationery patterns has a line from which I would have bought many patterns five years ago. I was looking this over in terms of her nifty pad and clipboard arrangement, which I am about to show you (hold your Hanoverians, People, I am trying to make a point here) and it occurred to me how very much I still love to look at these very pink and girly patterns but how, in practice, I had moved on, as had our needs on the whole. Here are visual aides to demonstrate:

Could have been mine at age 7, maybe (really little, before I could actually write, possibly). Frog Princess, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie.

Age 12, Ribbon Stripe, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

Age 22, Pink Hounstooth, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

Age 25, Pink Madras, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

Age 30, but I feel like I am pushing it. Ecru Fruit, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

Today. Natalie Marigold, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

The Household clipboard today which bears the name of our home for the cold seasons. I have not found one for the house I like for sunny days or Florida yet. Stewart Plaid, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie

A possible end-of-the-game candidate, always great, and it reminds me of the inside of the luncheon room on the top floor of Saks in White Plains, I loved going there with my Mom, so grown up and ladylike.

Alright. I think you see my point. In recounting to myself my own stationery history, it looked something like what follows. Which is to say, it was always both pretty and practical (I have my Mom's oversight to thank for this well into college):

Mine did not have a ribbon but was this same white and pink scallop-edged suite from
Crane until I was a teenager. Card: Stacy Clair Boyd

Crane's Letter Writing Stationery, Regent Blue Bordered Ecru. I had a green border on both the set while I lived at home as a teenager and when I went away to school on the same engraved set with my address at school. Even then, (which was not so long ago) email had not eclipsed pen and paper for letters home and to friends. I saved the letters friends sent: My friend Lois's letters from St. George's were tipped in blue but it was all pretty much the same idea. You had long letter sheets, short, note cards, sometimes a correspondence card, and envelopes to fit all with your return address. At the time, I thought they cost a fortune, sometimes I still do.

And then I grew up. I became sensitive to how far we had come in life, the fact that we were now married, and that I occasionally correspond on our joint or collective behalf, and to the desire to age, even now, like a sage and dignified traditionalist. I shake my head a little each time one of those oh-so-little-girly pink and green jobs appears in the mail. I have to wonder about the sender and their ability to be both realistic and proud that we are maturing. We're a long way from Brown Spring Weekend now, Ladies. Like it or not. And no amount of Botox is going to make that stationery passable. Time to take on that mantle with chins up and excitement in our hearts.
Francie Navy, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie.

Who occasionally also writes and signs only her own name on a matured whimsy card such as this:

Aqua Rose, Whitney English at Lemon Tree Paperie.

While also always maintaining this letter stationery for a somber occasion...

Navy and Gold Monogrammed, Crane's at

Rather than a thirty-something still wishing I was a very-early-twenty-something taking the ferry out to Nantucket on weekends in high summer...

Pink Alligator, Boatman Geller at Lemon Tree Paperie

Now, that wouldn't be dignified.


duchess said...

I've never really thought about it but you're right. I kind of thought along these lines when over the holidays I looked at the monogrammed pink & green polka dot license plate on the front of my SIL's car & she 40 or what? Anyhoo - great point, people do notice & I love the green one.

Starr said...

This resonates with me strongly. Perhaps because I'm about to celebrate my 33rd birthday. Perhaps because I find paper to be a subtle pleasure. Especially when writing on something beautiful and elegant with a fountain pen and candlelight.

Blushing hostess said...

Indeed Duchess and Starr - Good paper, absolutely. Little pink frogs, though... they make a person wonder.