United States of Trad: William Colby

William Colby Ivy League style

In this edition of the United States of Trad I would like to introduce William Colby (1920-1996). Colby was a Princeton grad, OSS veteran, CIA agent and a controversial CIA director, but most importantly to this blog he knew and wore the look well.
Colby Family

I have had William Colby on my list to feature ever since I was introduced to him by the seemingly defunct blog with a cool name, The Quiet Trad. I think that the pictures alone can explain why. What I like most about Colby from a style perspective is his consistency. Similar to Moynihan (and why I like Moynihan as much as I do) is that he dressed in the Ivy League style during the boom, but unlike so many others he pretty much stuck to the look until the end which in this case was a mysterious death in 1996.
Colby Emblematic Tie

Colby 2Older William Colby
I was reminded of Colby this week by a book review of Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961. The book review thread by Talk Ivy’s Armchaired is as good as its name, “Spy Ivy…….Yale,the OSS, the CIA and Anglophile Ivy Roots.,” and is a great follow up read. There is also a documentary available on Netfilx directed and narrated by his son, The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby.

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is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

12 Comments on "United States of Trad: William Colby"

  1. Uncle George says:

    Totally, absolutely orthodox in his choice of garb

  2. Charles Sider says:

    Hi ocbd, big fan. When will you be making your next post?

  3. oxford cloth button down says:

    Charles – I apologize for not posting this week, but the holidays got the best of me. I will be back next week.

  4. Masterton says:

    His wife really looks frightened to death of him.

  5. Mike says:

    I enjoyed this post and wanted to share my “degrees of separation” from Mr. Colby. My wife is from a small town in Vermont called Charlotte, and after watching the documentary about Mr. Colby I was convinced that the “Vermont” that his wife alludes to was my wife’s home town which have camps on Lake Champlain called Thompsons Point. After some easy digging I was able to confirm that this was in fact the Vermont that the Colbys would summer at. I asked my father in law if he ever had any encounters with Mr. Colby to which he said “Never spoke to him but I would see him on the Sunday evening flight to Washington, DC out of Burlington in the summers…he always looked the same and always had his old leather briefcase at his side that looked like it had seen a thing or two”. A great anecdote in my opinion and one that particularly suits your blog. More on the Colby camp: http://www.thompsonspoint.org/camps/colby.php

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Mike – Thanks for the anecdote and the link. Your father in law’s comment definitely adds to the post. It is appreciated.

  7. xcubbies says:

    I wonder if a historian could analyze 20th Century politics within the context of the clothing politicians wore. Have you ever consider it, OCBD? Of course, if you had enough time.

  8. oxford cloth button down says:

    xcubbies – That would be interesting to read. I have considered providing more coverage to politics and clothing. One of the reasons that is a great topic in my opinion is that there is so much documentation.

  9. MJ says:

    Isn’t he the CIA director who died very mysteriously? IIRC there’s a big conspiracy that he was murdered.

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    MJ – Yes, there are conspiracies. I encountered them while trying to locate pictures for this post. I state in the post that it was a mysterious death.

  11. WFBjr says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the documentary, like a cinematic look book for trad stylings. His collar rolls were awe inspiring. They just don’t make them like that anymore; neither the clothes nor the wearer.

  12. oxford cloth button down says:

    WFBjr – I couldn’t agree more.

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