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.
“[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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.