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Posted on Apr 27, 2015 in Andy blogs, Neck Ties, Personal Style, Travel |

VIDEO: Andy Slashes his Neck Tie Collection in Half


Today, I present you with big news, and a serious challenge that comes along with it. Oh–and a video that I think you’ll enjoy.

In Case You Didn’t Know

I suppose we haven’t officially told you, our beloved Cordials, the news. In July, Andy, Ellie, and their three boys will be moving to Seoul, South Korea!

Andy will be a chaplain and teacher at Yongsan International School. The Church Belles will still be banging out bow ties here in Carolina, while Ellie oversees The Cordial Churchman from Korea.

We’re excited.

Serious Challenges

We are in the process of purging a dozen years of accumulated stuff. For me, that means whittling down my wardrobe to what the ladies might call a “capsule wardrobe.” This is where you separate the men from the boys.

Boys say “But I might wear this some day!”

Men say “Let’s be honest. I’m never, or almost never, going to wear this.”

For my trousers, shirts, jackets, and shoes, this process was fairly easy. Either stuff fits, or it doesn’t. Either it’s worn out or it’s still looking sharp. Either it’s worth paying to move to Korea, or it isn’t.

But with my neck tie collection, this was harder. For one thing, these things don’t wear out, or size out, or style out like other elements of my wardrobe. And so Ockham’s Razor is applied based on one simple principle: do I wear this?

Buy these!

I’ll be unloading the neck ties that didn’t make the cut. I’ll post links soon, and you can buy them!


This was  my first time shooting and editing a video. I know it’s kind of rough–especially in terms of audio quality. But I think it’s pretty dang good for my first go at this. Yes?

Would you enjoy more videos like this? Stuff about our move? Stuff about bow ties, pocket squares, style, etc.? Let us know.

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Posted on Mar 11, 2015 in Andy blogs, Bow Ties, Bowties, Personal Style, Pocket Squares |

How to Pick a Bow Tie and Pocket Square Combo


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

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.




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Posted on Mar 4, 2015 in Andy blogs, Bow Ties, Bowties, contest, Personal Style | 1 comment

Stylish Kids Saying Awesome Things



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

Dear Asher,

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.




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Posted on Feb 10, 2015 in Andy blogs, Neck Ties, Personal Style |

Cordial Camo? An Experiment


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:


Nick Wooster in Dockers Camo Alpha Khaki at Dockers F+W 2012

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.

photo 1

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.

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Posted on Feb 6, 2015 in Andy blogs, Bow Ties, Personal Style, Pocket Squares, Special Offer |

The Making of a Happy Sartorial Couple

“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:

IMG_0675 IMG_0674 IMG_0671 IMG_0669

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.

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Posted on Jul 3, 2014 in Accessories, Braces, Personal Style, the Mothering of Art |

Brace Yourself: It’s Been Five Years!


We have been making things that we’re proud of for 5 years now. For the most part, we try to be humble about it. It’s a great privilege, after all, to work with our hands and make things faithfully.

We’re taking this proudly, humbly made thing to a whole new level with this, our newest offering in a line of menswear made faithfully. In celebration of 5 years, we’re pleased to present this humble brag.

Braces 1

Introducing our handmade American braces. Suspenders with hand-dyed leather, logo-stamped back pieces, and other gorgeous, sturdy components. We are fairly confident that no one in America is making quality button-fastened braces by hand like this. Just us.


Your braces come with sturdy buttons. We’ll be glad to sew a set of buttons in your trousers if you send us your pants. How about that? Or we’ll walk you through the process and you can have the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Braces 2

The result is that you get to celebrate with us, and do so with a level of sophistication and distinction that–dare we say it?–eclipses that of even the wearer of bow ties. For the price of just a couple bow ties, you can take this cordial menswear thing to a whole new level.

And thank you, thank you, thank you for five incredible years of your loyalty and enthusiasm. Here’s to five more.

Head on over to the store and brace yourself.

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