People frequently ask us “what goes with what?”
But there are many times when it’s clear that customers know how to pair things up. This is one of those times.
The Dehnolm silk paisley bow tie with the Cobalt Blue Dot chambray pocket square, both available at thecordialchurchman.com
Today, Erica packed up and shipped this combination. As you can tell, this customer has a great eye.
But what are they seeing? You know a good combo when you see it, but how do you see it before you see it? How do you pick a pair of pieces out that you’re confident will work?
Here are three basic things to keep in mind when you decide to try and pair two patterns together:
1. Complementary Colors.
You don’t have to be an art student to see that there are 3 distinct shades of blue here. There are 2 on the bow tie. Plus a purple, which might actually be blue–who knows. But at minimum, there’s a dark and a light blue. Then you’ve got the pocket square, which is medium-blue. It’s right in between the dark and light blue of the bow tie.
What does this mean? It means that the square and bow don’t “match.” Matching is not the goal. Complementary is the goal.
Sometimes it really is as simple as “Hey, look! Blue. And this is blue too! I’ll take them both.”
2. Vary the Scale.
This is where people usually get gun shy. It feels harder to say “this pattern will go great with that one!” than it is to say “Hey, look! Blue! And more blue!”
But don’t get intimidated. Here’s the deal with patterns.
Keep the scale different. If you have dots that are really close to each other, don’t pair them with a striped pattern where the stripes are equally close to each other.
If the dots are spread wide, don’t reach for wide-spred stripes.
If you’ve got a somewhat busy, medium-scale paisley like this bow tie, don’t pair it with a super-busy pattern of any sort.
Keep it simple, like with this chambray pocket square: solid blue, tiny white dots.
3. Own it.
When Ellie recorded her full-length album with Nashville producer/singer-songwriter Andrew Osenga, he gave us a principle that has stuck with us. He said, if you’re playing an instrument or singing, and you hit a wrong note that seems out of place, just keep hitting it over and over again. Own it. Then it looks like you know what you’re doing. Like you meant it. Pretty soon, everybody will be like “yeah, man. Yeah.”
Then go back and practice your scales.
Same with picking out your clothes. Keep a few guiding tips in mind (color and scale), and then just go for it. If you feel like maybe you hit the wrong note, just keep hitting it. Own it. In other words, try something out, and wear it all day with gusto. “Pulling something off” is all about confidence–even when it’s technically “wrong.”
Then try something different next time—or not.
Do you think this fella pictured here cares about my “rule” about scale? He’s got stripes (shirt) and check (bow tie) in almost exactly the same scale. But he owns it. If you look at his blog, it’s pretty sure he’s in the “break the rules” phase rather than the “what are the rules?” phase.
If you like this combo …
You can grab the Denholm silk paisley bow tie here.
And the Cobalt Blue Dot chambray pocket square here.
Kids say the darnedest things.
When we were first married, we assumed that having kids who say hilarious things was the main point of having kids. It was a motivation to procreate. And it continues to be a consolation on days when rooms are a wreck and spaghetti sauce is splattered on new khakis.
Turns out your kids say awesome things too. We had a feeling they would.
Without further ado, it’s time to sit back and enjoy some darnedest-ness from your kids’ mouths. Each of the following children have won themselves a boys’ bow tie on the strength of their answers to the question:
“If you were to win a bow tie, what’s one awesome thing you would do while wearing it?”
Winner Number 1.
“I’d pogo stick over the Grand Canyon in a chicken suit doing a triple back flip while singing the national anthem backwards. … I probably can’t do that, but I can ride my scooter with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other.”
-Aleks, age 10, Rock Hill, SC
Alecks, you win! Deacon (age 9) thinks your answer was, hands down, the best in the whole bunch. How did you end up with such superb coordination? Have you heard of Evel Knievel? I bet he would try your bow-tied pogo stick Grand Canyon chicken suit triple back flip national anthem stunt. In any event, you are super cool. You also live in a great town. Maybe we can go on a bow-tied, sandwiched scooter ride sometime. Thanks for entering, and enjoy your bow tie!
Winner Number 2.
“This is a picture of our 3 year old son, Charlie, and his friend Caroline. They were playing dress up at school and Caroline asked him to marry her. She brought him the coat and tie and he said ‘No Caroline! I have to wear a bow tie when I get married!’ We live in the mountains of western North Carolina.” – Katy Seymour, Sylva, NC
Charlie! You win! We’d like to send you a bow tie that you can put in your preschool’s dress-up box, so that all the 3-year-olds who decide to get hitched during preschool have the opportunity to rock a bow tie. Hey–funny story. You’re a 3-year-old, and you already know it’s best to wear a bow tie when you get married. But the owners of this bow tie company didn’t even know bow ties were so important at weddings when they got married back in 2002.
Oh–another thing: I, too, had a clip on long neck tie instead of a bow tie when I got married. I wish you had been there to set me straight. Your bride, by the way, is beautiful. Tell Caroline that she’s awesome. Oh–one other thing: I didn’t get married in preschool, but I did have a very serious girlfriend, another 3-year-old named Kelly Kessler. We planned to marry, but we must have ended up in different classes for Kindergarten, because I ended up marrying someone else (Ellie) instead. Have a great rest of the school year, and a happy marriage!
Winner Number 3.
”Trip (10) likes to wear bow ties and has a goal of learning to tie his own this this year.”
- Dick Carter, Jr., Topeka, Kansas
Trip! You win! Technically, you didn’t say one of the darnedest things. But we want to reward your sense of style and your ambition to learn to tie a freestyle bow tie. You get a big-boy, grown-up bow tie that you can learn to tie yourself. Then you can show all your friends how to tie them like mature young gentlemen do.
I also want to compliment you on your casual use of the bow tie in this photo. This is proof that shorts and bow ties go together just fine. In fact, there’s a really tall college student who comes to our church who wears shorts and a bow tie every day. EVERY DAY. Impressive, huh?
(Say, what’s the statue behind you? At first I thought it was Iwo Jima. Then I though maybe it was Mary with Jesus. Now I have no clue at all.)
In any event, congratulations, Trip! Here’s to many years of happy bow tie self-tying! Cheers!
Winner Number 4.
Attentive readers will have noticed that we couldn’t stop at 3 winners like we planned.
”I would go on a date with Mommy.”
- Asher, age 3, Clover, SC
Guess whose heart you melted with your answer. Yep, my wife’s. She’s a mom. Of a 3-year-old. We know it’s not super-duper fancy, but with you bow tie, we’re going to send you a gift card for Chick Fil A. Put on that bow tie, have your mommy put on a fancy dress, and take her out for a date courtesy of The Cordial Churchman.
Kids: even better than saying the darnedest things is saying nice things about your beautiful mammas and taking them out on dates. Daddies: you should take your kiddos’ mammas out on dates, too. Then they’ll want to take their mammas on dates, and everybody’s happy. Brian–you must have done a good job of this, cause it’s rubbed off on Asher!
Winner Number 5.
“If I won a bow tie, I’d go back in time with my friend Braylon and we would go bowling with Abraham Lincoln in the White House.” – Lincoln age 8, Spring Lake NC
PS–He would like the navy corduroy one bc he’s “never seen a bumpy bow tie.”
Dear Lincoln, you have a time machine? Can I go with you? I love bowling and I think Honest Abe has impeccable style.
(Did you know that the top hat, like Abe wore, supposedly first appeared in 1797 on the streets of London. A story goes that an English hatter, a Mr. Hetherington, literally caused a riot on the street and was fined a tidy sum of £500 for disturbing the peace for wearing a hat that he invented. Well, it turns out that is a myth. Sadly.)
Congratulations, Lincoln. You win! You’ll get your bumpy navy corduroy bow tie!
Thanks for entering!
And congratulations to all our winners and contestants. You a quality young men with great imaginations and superb style.
Kids are Cute. But are they photographable?
This past autumn, we had our talented friend and neighbor Ashlee Wells of A. René Photography take some family photos for us.
There’s something about the way Ashlee engages with children that just plain works. What on paper might seem to be an impossible assignment–getting kids to cooperate and look cute for photographs–miraculously happens with Ashlee’s magic touch.
You can provide the genes. You can provide the jeans. You can deck them in button down shirts and Cordial Churchman boys’ bow ties.
But you have to have a photographer like Ashlee, or else.
Everything about our experience was much less difficult than we imagined, even when our kids sometimes seemed intent on derailing things. And the final product made us wonder if perhaps we had the cutest family on earth. Bias factored in and all.
How about some free bow ties?
It feels a little like winning the lottery, I suppose–getting great photos of your handsome boys. So we figured we’d do what people do when they win the lottery: give people a cut.
In this case, we’re going to give away one of each of these three snappy boys’ bow ties. Repeat: not the boys themselves, but their bow ties. (Morally-speaking, it’s probably only a small step from exploiting your kids’ cuteness to giving your kids away in a contest on your blog. But anyway…)
While we’re passing our children’s hearts, souls, and cute smiles around in morally tenuous ways on the Internet, here’s how we’ll do our contest …
Contest Rules and Fine Print
- Interrogate your kiddos. You round up your kids and interrogate them thus: “If you win a bow tie, tell us about one super special thing you’ll do while wearing it.” You can coach them a little, but the answer needs to be uniquely theirs.
- Share their awesome answers. Post their responses, along with their first name, age, and where you’re from. Share them in one or more places: in the comments on this blog post, on this Instagram, on this Facebook post, or to our Twitter.
- We’ll judge your kids’ responses. That’s right. All of us. The Cordial Church Belles, our cute kids—all of us. We may factor in criteria including, but not limited to, cuteness, elaborateness, ridiculousness, romantic-ness, funny pronunciations typed phonetically by proud parents, and the like. Contestants’ responses will be judged and announced Friday, February 27.
Finally, your Bow Ties and their Models
Now, here are your options, on our cute kids:
Above, it’s Blue chambray. This goes with everything, year-round. Pre-tied with velcro fastener. Owen here demonstrates the cordial nonchalance that pairs well with the blue chambray.
Professor Deacon is sporting a navy corduroy bow tie. If you’re a cerebral youngster, you’re probably going to want to opt for this one. Deacon is contemplating a science experiment he’d conduct in this bow tie.
Last, we’ve got Cliffe in his gingham navy bow tie. This is a timeless pattern, and will work especially well for spring, Easter, or…
…for melting your mother’s heart with cuteness. (Blonde curls not included.)
And moms, if you’re getting caught up in the cuteness here, keep in mind that we can make dads (and/or moms!) matching grown-up bow ties. Perfect for Easter or heart-melting.
Alright, friends. There you have it. Kids, let it rip. We’re looking forward to your entries!
Disclaimer: It’s my blog. Any bias that may be represented in these rankings is solely attributable to the fact that, well, it’s my blog.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.
No. 1 – The Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes of Columbus, Ohio have been donning the scarlet and gray on the gridiron since their inaugural campaign in 1890. While the club went 1-5 that season, they looked great doing it.
It’s very tempting to abandon the whole bow tie enterprise altogether and immediately begin making 1890 Ohio State football uniforms. I would wear that hat all day, every day. I might get asked for ice cream cones or haircuts, but I’d persevere. And how about that lace-up-front jersey?
1916 – Chic Harley
(Note, all these old jerseys pictured are paintings from this great website, are catalogued at their blog, and are for sale. If you don’t want to commission us to make you a uniform, and would prefer the painting, you now know where to find them.)
Ohio State’s uniforms have not been uniform throughout the years. But you can see the continuity. There is a Buckeye uniform repertoire that is drawn on, and cycled through. There are sharp divergences–like the vertical stripes of the 1910′s. But for the most part, you’ve basically got gray pants, scarlet home jerseys, and stripes on the sleeves.
Eventually the Buckeyes uniform gods decreed there would be large block numbers, and the rest is history.
1968 – Rex Kern
1973 – Archie Griffin
Throughout the modern era, the black accents have wandered from the shoulder numerals to the trouser stripes and back again. In the national championship game this January, the Bucks donned the Nike Diamond Quest jersey with black shoulder numerals, referencing this variant from a half century ago.
2015 – Top: Ezekiel Elliot; Below: Anonymous wounded ducks
There’ve been some fascinating alternate uniforms for special occasions in the recent past. If you have read any of my posts in this series thus far, or know anything about me at all, you’ll be able to guess that I love the alternates that reference the past– or at least feel like they do:
2012 – Braxton Miller. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
2010 – Jordan Hall
2009 – Zach Boren
And then there are the attempts to make the traditional uniforms “modern” for modern-sake. I dislike these:
2012. Lame. Stop please.
2013 – Carlos Hyde: great; attempt to be sleek in the use of black: not great.
In the end, what makes a great college uniform is the refusal to simply be modern for no other reason than to update things. My Buckeyes have been vulnerable to the temptations of novelty, more so than Michigan, Notre Dame, and Alabama. I tip my hat to these programs for staying the course.
But in the end, the Scarlet and Gray, I am confident, will settle back in, making reference to tradition and pulling occasional details from the archives in fresh ways that honor its history rather than capitulating to the demands of sleek. Nike will push a big fat check across the desk, suggesting that the Buckeyes could be the next Oregon Ducks. But a good athletic director will cordially push the check back from whence it came, and insist that tradition trumps titillation.
It’s possible that I’m being crotchety. I am always willing to take that risk.
But when you look at it from another angle, the diversity within the stable Buckeye uniform tradition gives OSU an advantage over the rigidity of, say, Penn State or Alabama. A departure from the exact specs of a Nittany Lions uniform is automatically a heretical, ghastly departure. Not so for the Bucks.
And that’s how style and tradition work. When the approach is one of incremental flexibility, consistently drawing on the archives, you run the risk of making Mr Grumpy Pants types like myself unhappy because “you couldn’t just leave well enough alone.” But, while I (and you) reserve the right to complain when the flexibility feels heretical, I also admit giddy delight when the new-old details are, well, right where they should be. When the alternate uniforms salute the dead Buckeyes of yore. When Nike gets it right for once.
This is how it works in the world of suits and loafers, blazers and dungarees, bow ties and pocket squares, too. Or, at least in my reckoning. Honor the tradition. Tweak the details. Pull surprises out of the archives. Make everything old new again.
Here’s to my Buckeyes, their uniforms, and their undisputed National Championship.
A Reward for Persevering Readers
If you’ve read this far, tolerated all my very contestable pontifications, and endured my rampant homerism, I have a treat for you. For the next couple days, you can take $8 off the Barrett bow tie, in honor of the Bucks’ 8th national title. Apply the discount code “JTtheQB”.
2014 – J.T. Barrett
I don’t hunt. I’ve never even considered joining the military. I’ve never been paint-balling. I don’t even care to go outdoors, really. I have never discharged a firearm. While I’m thankful for the liberties I enjoy and am proud of my grandfathers’ WW2 service, I am more than a little ambivalent about militarism. After all, I have a master’s degree in European history, and am very aware that nineteenth-century nationalistic fervor and militarism made the twentieth century the bloodiest in history.
All of this might suggest that I would be the least likely person to purchase camouflage pants.
But when I made a recent trip to my local purveyor of Levi’s, I stumbled upon these. Next thing you know, I was saying “yes, yes, I know” to friends and parishioners who stood baffled at my unlikely choice of trousers.
There are a couple of factors that went into my admittedly hasty purchase.
First, there was not a cargo pocket anywhere in sight. I assume that I do not need to explain why that would be a deal breaker. The rear pockets do have flaps, which I quickly tucked in so as to de-macho-ize them in one fell swoop.
Second, these trousers essentially fit like something between a pair of relaxed chinos and cozy jeans. The fit pretty much banished the possibility that someone would mistake me for an army chaplain heading to deployment.
I immediately thought of these as the sort of thing Nick Wooster would pair with a coat and tie, just to be … pushy.
Turns out I was right:
But the question remains: Can camo be cordial?
“Cordial”, to me, anyway, is another word for gentlemanly. When it comes to what one puts on, it all has to do with the crucial question a gentleman asks: Am I, by wearing this, stepping into the tradition of style and adding my own interpretations and innovations here and there, while dressing appropriately for the occasion–putting others at ease and perhaps even contributing to their delight?
Here’s where I come down, therefore: if the occasion makes it appropriate to throw on a pair of camouflage trousers, then sure–it’s plenty cordial to do so.
I wouldn’t wear them in place of chinos to a traditional church. But I’ve enjoyed wearing them with a coat and tie and brogues at the fairly casual church I started. Not every week, but now and then. And, seeing as my line of work allows me to wear jeans, which I often do with a bow or neck tie, swapping the denim out for camo actually dresses my Tuesday up a tad.
Of course, this may not be your style. Or, you may have the kind of lifestyle in which the only appropriate context for these suckers is when you’re out hunting. In either case, move along–nothing to see here. To each his own.
Today I threw on a classic blue oxford cloth button down, a thrift store waistcoat, the Janningsnecktie — a rust herringbone tweed with a point-end from The Cordial Churchman, which you can certainly own yourself. (Grab it here.) I know that my ancient Allen Edmonds penny loafers need polished something fierce. But for whatever reason, I feel like the beat-up state they’re in makes sense given, you know, I’m wearing camo. (I also like to wear my Wolverine 1000 Mile boots with them.)
So, the trousers themselves: Mine are Levi’s. Nick Wooster’s are Dockers.
In any event, I’m curious what you think. Ridiculous? Genius? You tell me.
“Whimsical floral bow seeks grounded square”
People often ask us what goes with what.
Our response? Pair a daring accoutrement with an item that’s not competing for attention. You want to have one, or two at the most, pushy elements in your ensemble. The rest, if you don’t want your outfit to garner comments like “how flamboyant” or “is it Halloween?”, should be subdued. This allows the pushy elements to do their pushing without pushing the whole outfit into “why does it look like you’re wearing 14 Hawaiian shirts at the same time” territory.
What exactly does this principle (“one pushy, the rest subdued”) look? How do you pair accoutrements in a way that isn’t “matchy-matchy”, but instead complementary?
Or, to put it even more specifically, “What in the devil am I supposed to wear for such a festive occasion as a Valentine’s Day date?” (Or its complement: “What in the devil am I supposed to give my Valentine for Valentine’s Day?”)
Behold, four happy couples:
Four punchy bow ties in iconic floral Liberty of London fabrics. Blind date with a soft-spoken, complementary cotton pocket square. Four happy couples indeed.
Notice: subdued doesn’t simply mean “solid colors”. You can have patterns without those patterns challenging the star of your outfit to a who-is-gonna-get-more-complements competition.
Friday and Saturday only, add our hand-picked pocket square to your choice of Liberty bow ties for just $5. Pick your happy pair now. Click here.
Place the Liberty bow tie in your shopping cart, and the $5 pocket square will appear in a pop-up window. Put the square in your cart, and you’re good to go.