Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

My good friend Stephanie is back for another awesome guest post! (Make sure you check out her guest post last summer about her personal style journey and love of vintage clothing.) This time, she shares another personal passion:  her love of stationery and letter-writing.

Epistolary Style

“[C]ivility is not a sign of weakness.” – John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Letter writing. Hand-written correspondence. Epistolary communications. Whatever you call it, it has been my thing as long as I could write. For years, it was out of necessity:  my family moved a fair amount when I was younger, so I would write to the friends that I had to leave behind. Now, I write letters and notes by choice, as a way to have relationships with far-flung friends, relationships that are qualitatively different from email communication and interactions on social media. This communication is not just for old friends, either:  I recently found a kindred spirit at a professional conference, and we are now pen pals.

To me, the hand-written note, letter, or thank-you card communicates a different quality of time, thought, and engagement with the interlocutor. I think differently when I sit down with pen and paper. I feel more me, and I think that comes through on paper.

Given this view on this kind of correspondence, the materials that I use matter to me. When I was younger, I tended to rely on stationery sets with matching paper and envelopes, or the all-in-one stationery that folded up to create its own envelope, or – in a pinch, notebook paper and a Mead envelope. Just as my sartorial style evolves over time, so does my epistolary style. Below are some of the current important elements of this addiction…. er, style.


I’ve written with many different kinds of implements: pencil (colored and regular), ballpoint pens, Flair pens, roller-ball, calligraphy pens, liquid ink pens. In college and afterwards, I preferred fountain pens; once I got a refillable reservoir, I could use whatever ink color I liked. I gave up my fountain pen, but I still prefer to use liquid-ink style pens. My current favorites are Uni-Ball Vision Elite and Tombow pens that come in a rainbow of colors for the pen casing, as well as a variety of nib sizes for the cartridges. Inspired by an article in the NY Times, I might explore more Japanese pens for my next round of writing implements.

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

Thank-You Cards

A selection of thank-you cards is a mainstay of my stationery collection. I like to have a variety of cards to reflect the tone of the note or the personality of the recipient. I acquired the majority of my current selection from Greer, thanks to a gift certificate from a friend. Not only does Greer have an excellent selection of stationery, but when they ship you an order, they wrap each item in tissue paper and close it with a seal. This always makes it feel like I’m getting a gift whenever I order from them.

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

From top to bottom: “Thank You” and “Many Thanks,” Kate & Birdie Paper Company via Greer; “Merci,” Elum Letterpress via Greer; cream “Thank You” from a going-out-of-business sale at a party supply store (I bought these in bulk when I got married)

Go-To Stationery

My go-to stationery for a number of years has been from G. Lalo. I like the weight and feel of their paper and card stock, and my pen glides across it nicely. They make a range of colors that go well together, so I can choose to go matchy-matchy (same color envelope as card or paper) or I can mix and match. I use the Vergé de France tablets for letter writing; the correspondence cards are great for quick notes or thank-yous. When I first started getting this stationery, I ordered it from Greer; they have since stopped carrying it. The last time I stocked up on it, I found it at Oblation Papers, which is a local store for me; I’ve also ordered it from other suppliers online.

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

G. Lalo Vergé de France tablets and accompanying envelopes

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

G. Lalo correspondence cards

One thing that has not changed over time is my love for matching or coordinating paper and envelopes. My current set in a French provincial theme was a birthday gift from a close friend.

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

Mixing It Up

I also use a variety of cards, both folded and flat. I am grateful to frequently receive boxed sets of cards from friends and family who know about my stationery obsession. I also buy individual cards and boxed sets when I am traveling, as a way to remember trips. Occasionally, I will have cards made with photos of my dog, using a service like VistaPrint or Shutterfly (I prefer the latter, as they use better-quality envelopes).

Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

Clockwise from top left: card from vintage ladies’ hats set, gift from a friend; Georgia O’Keeffe card from boxed set, gift from my spouse; Kate Spade card from boxed set, courtesy of gift card from a friend; Dale Chihuly card from boxed set, from the Chihuly Museum and Garden last summer; photo card via Shutterfly; fir needles and berries card from boxed set, Paper Source a few years ago

A big thanks to Jen for letting me indulge my passion for stationery in this guest post!

If you have any stationery favorites, leave a comment and let me know. I’m always looking in new or unusual cards or stationery sets for my stash.


8 thoughts on “Be my guest: Stephanie | Epistolary style

  1. Mike

    Wow, this is so awesome! I do not come across people too often that share my passion for writing like you do. I have always enjoyed writing, but up until recently, I only would write for purposes of school and my own personal stories or journals. But lately, I have been doing quite a bit of letter writing to some new and wonderful pen pals that I made who live in different parts of the world. In a world where e-mail, text messaging, social media and other forms of electronic communication essentially rule it, it seems that the art of letter writing has become a lost cause. But I love it! I just love the process of it; getting some paper, a pen, writing the letter, sealing it in an envelope, addressing it, placing stamps on it, and taking it to a mailbox; every step taken is special and unique! And I truly believe that you can really get to know a person through their handwriting. And I love the idea of actually holding a real letter that has traveled thousands of miles and thinking of the process that it went through in order to reach you. That’s something that e-mail just can’t emulate.
    Great post today! It’s nice to know that there are others out there that feel the same way as I do about letter writing!

    1. Stephanie

      Thanks, Mike! I agree with you, in that there is something special about every part of sending a letter. Days where I receive personal mail are also red-letter days!

      1. Mike

        You’re welcome Stephanie! Writing actual letters is just so much fun, and I really enjoy it. I’m in the middle of composing a letter to one of my Japanese pen pals right now. 🙂 I’m thinking of maybe improving my stationery materials, especially after reading your post. I just use regular paper to write my letters for right now. But now that I’m in the letter writing business on an ongoing basis, I want my letters to truly shine! Not just with the content, but in the paper quality as well!

  2. Kezzie

    Hi Stephanie! You have some great stationery! I love writing letters too. I have 4 penpals through blogging and I have had a fair few over the years. I often love sending random letters to friends and family too, esp if they are feeling down.
    Have you come across our Uk brand Paperchase at all
    They have some great letter-writing resources.
    I’ve got some really cute Japanese cartoon writing paper I was given as a present and I have been using it for ages as there’s loads of it! I also love decorating my own envelopes too and making them out of old maps etc.
    Great post, you should definitely have a blog!

    1. Stephanie

      Hi Kezzie,

      Yes, I used to get Paperchase goods when I worked at Borders. They started with it in the UK shops, but then brought it to the sidelines area of U.S. shops. It’s been a while, though, so I should definitely check them out again. I keep meaning to get or make an envelope template so I can make my own; I always love when I receive a hand-made envelope out of an interesting picture.

  3. Jane Whittingham

    Beautiful! There’s something so thrilling about opening the mailbox and finding something other than bills and flyers! I have friends who live abroad, and writing actual letters helps us feel a bit more connected – seeing a friend’s unique handwriting makes you feel like the distance between you isn’t so great, at least for a moment!


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