Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by handwriting and the art of letter writing. I’m that girl who scribbles her name on everything. In fact, sometime after I write this, I think I’ll finally go get my handwriting analyzed. As my mother tells it, I taught myself to write by copying her signature (from her checkbook no less) at a very early age, which resulted in a lifetime of perfecting my own signature that I can’t wait to use on something other than checks & receipts…
I know I’m not the only one who keeps everything written to me stored for years after that best friend/summer fling/birthday/note passed in class and all those inside jokes have lost their relevance. Because years later we’re still clinging to some fleeting sense of nostalgia.
The fashion industry seems to have a particular affinity for handwritten notes. I will always remember a certain editor-boss of mine whose office filled up daily with enough flowers and notes (mostly from PR firms) to rival a funeral home. It must be some combination of ass-kissing and a need for unique communication. Anyway, at some point I noticed a particular stationery convention that seemed like such a common practice that I should have known it, but didn’t: many of these notes had their author’s personalized headers crossed out. I came up with all kinds of reasons I was seeing this everywhere… Perhaps all these editors were simultaneously getting married and awaiting new hyphenated-last-name cardstock (coincidentally, a lot of them actually were engaged)? Maybe it was everyone’s way of testing the ink in their pen? Did Anna do it once and has everyone been blindly striking through their name since? Whatever the case, I was definitely over-thinking it, but I needed a solid answer.
While I feared sounding uber-déclassé, I did ask an assistant editor once. She had no idea why, but said everyone did it. I had the urge to pull an “if everyone jumped off the top off a building would you do it to?” but alas, I was a lowly intern and I have a feeling the answer would have been a resounding “yes” anyway.
I searched Google to no avail until I found myself on Crane & Co.’s blog where some commenters came to the rescue. Anticlimactic as it is, turns out the name strike-through is just a nod of sincerity. Crossing out the last name in your letterhead is a way to convey intimacy and de-formalize the note. Basically saying “come on dude, you can just call me [first name].”
And since you’ve made it all the way to the end of this tale (I am so sorry), I reward you with more fashion-peep handwriting! And if you want even more check out the Details link below for a slideshow or Soma‘s Last Word features.