Style At Large
Menswear veteran and Valet's Editor at Large, Michael Macko, presents an insider's take on what's new and noteworthy in the world of style.

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Write On

A while back, I ran out of the stationery I'd been using for years. Elegant, engraved and expensive looking, it was exactly what I'd wanted at one time, but it didn't really represent my style anymore. I wanted something new. Still special, just more me. I had thought about letterpress before, but never really looked into it, so I stopped into Greenwich Letterpress in Manhattan's West Village and met owners (and sisters) Amy Swanson and Beth Salvini.

I learned that letterpress is a form of printing in where a raised surface of text and images is inked and then pushed onto paper. Originally, a flat printing process dubbed "kissing the paper," people nowadays prefer the impression left on the paper. In fact, it's considered one of the most interesting characteristics of letterpress, along with the fact that each piece is made by hand.

The most difficult part for me was choosing an icon to sit atop my note cards. There were plenty of images to choose from—animals, skulls, machinery, monograms. I finally asked if something could be custom made and was told it could for an additional charge (about $200), an artist on staff could create a unique icon designed for me.

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Greenwich uses 75-year-old
letterpress machines.

I didn't have to look past my fingertips. My monogrammed L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag, something of a personal style signature for me, was destined to become my official calling card. A quick snapshot, one round of edits and we were good to go. In a few weeks, I had the most perfect stationery I could ever ask for. I still get a thrill every time I have to take it out and write a thank you note.

Of course, letterpress is not for everyone. That detailed handwork is costly to produce, so it's not cheap but it is special. I'd recommend it to people who find engraved stationery too fussy and generic stationery too pedestrian. But whichever you choose, a gentleman should have stationery. There are some occasions where an e-mail is simply not enough. Even those of us who work on the web contend that pen needs to be put to paper at times. And when that time comes, you want to be prepared.








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