United States of Trad: William Colby

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.

United States of Trad: Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was an American politician, intellectual, and had style for days. Moynihan was the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations and to India, part of four successive presidential administrations (J.F.K-Gerald Ford) and a United States Senator for New York (D) (76-’94). and this is only a brief glimpse into his illustrious career (NYT Obituary). More importantly for the purpose of this post he was well versed in traditional American style even though he did not hail from the prep schools of New England, but rather from the New York’s Hell’s Kitchen via Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before the pics I leave you with this letter from Moynihan to Brooks Brothers from the book “Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.”

 The Letter to Brooks Brothers

November 24, 1980

Sirs:

As a customer of thirty-five years standing this spring (I bought my ensign’s outfit from you!), I hope you won’t mind this friendly “return.” As I have gotten older, with less time available for shopping, and somewhat more credit, I have taken to buying socks, shirts and sundries in rather large quantities. Such is your quality control that they tend to go on seemingly indestructible and then collapse in the manner of the one-horse shay.

In just such a manner a complete wardrobe purchased for India lasted four and one-half years and then disappeared in a fortnight. The point of the tale is that last spring before a trip to the Middle East, I stopped at your downtown store and stocked up on various items. I bought one dozen socks, one of which I enclose. All of them developed holes within a month. Of the kind you will see. This is something I know you would want to know about, and which I would like made up for in whatever manner you think best.

Moynihan in a Repp tie

Young Moynihan on the street

Daniel Patrick Moynihan by TypewriterMoynihan and NixonNote the 3rd buttonhole on Moynihan’s jacket.

Moynihan

Moynihan in Seersucker

Moynihan Moynihan in PinstripesMoynihan Green Bow TieMoynihan Suit & JacketMoynihan in Suit with Desert Boots

Classical Proportions

Last post I mentioned how wider pants were back or rather how they have been back. In fact you can see me in a pair of J.Crew 1450 relaxed fit back in 2018 here and here. That pair ended up as shorts (which are great!), but looking at them now they looked pretty good as pants. Back to the post at hand. I snagged a pair of J.Crew Classic fit chinos (here) the other day and here they are.

Yesterday was the first day that I wore them so I don’t have too much feedback yet. Here’s what I do know. They run pretty larger. I typically wear a size 30 waist for more room in the leg, but this requires me to take the waist in a touch. These are a size 29 waist and they will need taken in. I think I could drop down to a size 28 waist without losing too leg volume or much rise. What else? The fabric has a nice weight to it, I don’t care for the flapped back pockets, they call this green color dill and it’s a pretty good green. Overall they are a solid pair of khakis.

I was hoping the classic fit would be a little more I don’t know, classically proportioned. It was clear from the model pics that they were going for a 90s baggy vibe so I shouldn’t be surprised (The giant fit might be the enormous fit on me based on these). I do need to try a size down before I completely write the classic fit off. I should’ve measured these before I washed them, but I didn’t. I am going to try to shrink them a tad more. If they don’t workout as work pants they will make good casual pants to have fun with or another pair of great shorts.

Size 29/30 waist Measurements (Pants have been washed and dried on hot):
Rise: 11″ (It feels higher. See below)
Waist: 15.5″
Knee: 10″
Leg Opening: 8″

These Are The Breaks

For those of us kicking around in the 90s we have seen pant silhouettes swing from wide to slim and back again. In the early part of the 2010s I was chasing that heyday high-rise-full-leg-to-taper-collegiate cut for quite a while (collegiate cut chinos part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4). Over the last 10 years I have settled on a happy medium. A silhouette that is neither slim nor huge at least when it comes to my work chinos. We all know wider pant widths are here, but lately I have been hearing murmurs of break being back (I’m looking at you Zach).

Pants Break Illustration

This past week the murmurs have manifested into illustrations courtesy of renowned ivy illustrator, cartoonist and all around cool guy Dick Carroll. His latest illustration on the Put This On blog is devoted to the topic. Being on the shorter side of things too much break makes me look like I am wearing my dad’s pants and not in a cool dad fit way. I can do a slight break especially if I am wearing khakis because they will crease to a nice almost no break after sitting at my desk which probably defeats the whole point. If you can’t tell by my previous statement I still don’t know if I am ready to give up my no-break pants quite yet. However when I wear my office pants with almost any shoes, but sneakers I get a little break and it’s not so bad.

What do you think? Is this the break of a new dawn? Have we hit point break? Has the tide turned on high-water hems and the proverbial dam broke? Let me know in the comments!

Not too wide & not too slim pants with a touch of break provided by the wallos.

Zach aka newstonstreetvintage sporting some break on his cords.

Don’t Sweat the Technique

Hiroshi Watatani Upper Pajamas & Polo Coat

Before you get too far into this post please note that if you are the type to shake your fists at the sky bemoaning the lack of sartorial standards in the world today this post may be a bridge too far for you. Take a a little time to compose yourself and see if you can go on. If not that’s ok. If so, I am now going to talk about how the sweatpants and OCBD with a big coat look that we have been seeing a lot of lately is old news. So old even Ronald Reagan was doing it.

9/20/1984 President Reagan wearing sweatpants talking to staff aboard Air Force One on a trip to Iowa

This all may feel a bit too Aime Leon Dore for you (ALD ad above if you don’t know them). Before you dismiss as it some new fangled invention and you need some historical context you can look above to see Ronald Reagan rocking the look on Air Force One. For you ivy style purists students have been doing this since day one. If you’ve been around the ivy internet for a while this post might conjure up images of Hiroshi Watatani’s pajamas and duffle coat illustration above. I think of the old guys that I’d see leaving the YMCA in their sweat suits paired with the same coat they came in wearing over their suits. I used to work in an office building that with quite a few law offices inside. Sadly we’d often all be in our offices early Saturday morning and I saw type of fit there as well. I should have been taking more pics. Hindsight, eh?

Sweatpants & Shetland

Sure this is just another form of athleisure. Is it lazy? I don’t think so. Is it stylish? I think so. I do know that it comes in handy in my toddler-centric lifestyle. I find that it works almost any time where comfort may trump formality ( and a host of other reasons) like walking the dog, meeting friends for early morning coffee, wfh, travel days, most aspects of student life, just sitting around your house, and more occasions in 2024 than I can type. In these situations this style is a go for me. If you follow me on IG you’ve seen me do it a lot.

Here’s how I do it and what I’ve learned. Sweatpants are the central building block. It is best if they are a little baggy. Grey sweatpants are easier to style than navy for me. OCBDs looks great with sweatpants, but don’t tuck them in. Shetlands work over an OCBD or over a long sleeve t-shirt (here’s my long sleeve t-shirt post). Rugby shirts also work well. As far as footwear goes grey New Balance are great, but adding camp mocs, blucher mocs, or loafers is very cool. The baseball cap or beanie (I still call them tobaggaons like a true Midwesterner) is not required and while it is stylish it is key when your hair is a mess. A shortcut is if you have a big coat you can also simply throw it over a full sweat suit and add a scarf.

This post is more solid proof that the old adage “There is nothing new under the sun.” is accurate. However like Nas said on No Idea’s is Original, “It never what your do, but how it’s done.” If you have just scored a big coat this year like a tweed balmalcan, duffle coat, or the current champion of big coats, the polo coat and it’s not getting enough wear, here you go. If you want to one up everyone in their pajamas at Target at 8am on Saturday mornings, done. Me, I’ll be throwing this type of fit on before an early Saturday morning walk with my daughter where I also intend to score a croissant from the French bakery down the street. Maybe this is what they mean by French Ivy?

500 wears, 150 washes, & Time Flies

I was doing some laundry when I noticed some fraying on a pair of chinos, then saw the start of a hole, and I thought to myself, “That happens quicker than you’d think.”. I took a look at the tag to see exactly when it was that I got them. The answer was spring 2017. Wow, time flies.

I have 2 pairs of these J.Crew 770 chinos that I wear casually. They are a bit slimmer than my go to 1040 J.Crew pants that I wear or rather wore to the office. These casual khakis see action several times a week and especially on the weekend. I would guess that I wash one pair every week on hot and dry hot. I am hard on them. I do this with a lot of my casual gear ala Seinfeld. Cue the quote,

JERRY: But see, look at the collar. It’s fraying. Golden Boy is slowly dying. Each wash brings him one step closer. That’s what makes the t-shirt such a tragic figure.

JERRY: Elaine, see this t-shirt? Six years I’ve had this t-shirt. It’s my best one. I call him… Golden Boy.

ELAINE: Yeah, I’m on the phone here.

JERRY: Golden Boy’s always the first shirt I wear out of the laundry. Here. Touch Golden Boy.

ELAINE: No thanks. [to phone] Yeah, yeah, I’ll hold.

JERRY: But see, look at the collar. It’s fraying. Golden Boy is slowly dying. Each wash brings him one step closer. That’s what makes the t-shirt such a tragic figure.

ELAINE: Why don’t you just let Golden Boy soak in the sink with some Woolite?

JERRY: No! The reason he’s the iron man is because he goes out there and he plays every game. Wash! Spin! Rinse! Spin! You take that away from him, you break his spirit!

Back to the chinos. Doing some bad math I have had them for a little over 6 years. Continuing with my quick and dirty math that’s somewhere around 500 wears and 150 or so washes. In actuality probably more than that, but I will let the numbers stand. The wear and tear is in all the typical places that you’d expect. The cuffs are fraying and there are some holes developing around the back pockets. Despite the onset deterioration they still have quite a bit of life left in them.

I think I paid around $50 per pair for these khakis. In my opinion that’s money well spent. I might try my hand at some mending down the road. Before I head out I thought I’d ask, “With a wider silhouette being the norm these days are these pants too slim?” See pics below. Sometimes I think yes, and other times I think not really. I appreciate the input.

Tropical Ivy & Rainforest Trad

I have been MIA from the blog the last two weeks on vacation. I was down in Costa Rica with the family and it was glorious. I don’t get many trad fits off on my vacations. Most of the time we are enjoying the great outdoors, but I do have a few tips for this kind of weather. The type of tropical weather that I am talking about is hot, often humid, and with a good amount of on again/off again rain in the mix. As I said we hike and explore so this is more rainforest trad than your typical resort style tropical ivy.

JPress Madras and Patagonia Baggies

Let’s start with fit. Bigger is better when it comes to hot weather. Baggy clothes or a more refined word might be billowy, allows for a layer of air to get in between you and your clothes. This will help keep you cool. This is one of the reasons why I often size up in my madras shirts especially my popovers. That and it makes my popovers easier to get on and off. If you wear popovers you will relate. Baggier isn’t just better for shirts, but shorts and pants as well.

Sizing is important, but so is fabric. You want a fabric that breathes. Natural fibers are the natural chaoice. It also helps if it can dry quickly. I have mentioned in the past that linen isn’t my thing, but I do have a cheap linen/cotton popover from Target that I like and brought along (see below). I may be coming around on linen. I like it when I can make it look more rugged than refined. More on that later. The fabrics I stuck with are madras, lightweight cotton, and some synthetics which are my Patagonia baggies.

It is going to rain. This is one thing that you have to accept in a rainforest climate. I think my biggest takeaway is that no matter how light your rain jacket is it’s going to be too hot. You have a few choices. You can use an umbrella (a popular local option), wear a ball cap, or just accept being wet. I typically go with a ball cap for light rain or I will put on a long sleeve shirt to soak up the misty rain and remove it after it stops (see my pic with my Costa Rican friend below for an example). The locals all seem to favor PFG gear for this very reason which makes a lot of sense. I may have to give this a go next time around.

Who were the winners on this trip? My Patagonia baggies, J.Press Madras, old Merona brand cotton/linen popover, and green cut off cargo pants were my most worn items. Runners up were my old LE Original Oxford and Jcrew cotton henley which both served as rain jackets on a few occasions. I can’t forget to mention my Ralph Lauren madras cap and much beloved grey t-shirts. My Patagonia web belt also came in handy because it’s light to wear and because it matches nothing it works with everything.

I love visiting Costa Rica. This was my second time there. There will definitely be a third and a fourth. There are volcanoes, beaches, jungles, fresh fruit/juice, gallo pinto, wild life, sweet plantains, friendly people, amazing coffee, and I can’t forget to mention all the cool 4×4’s! Enjoy the bonus pics below!