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The Best Thing About “Argo”

…were the vintage sports jackets Ben Affleck got to wear. The film itself was ok—not much character development or suspense, but very watchable for such a straightforward story—all that ’70s tweed, however, was remarkable. And now the tweed industry of the Outer Hebrides has honored the CIA officer who inspired the film, the Guardian reports:

In an interview with the Guardian, Mendez spoke about the previously unknown role of the cloth in the world of US spies during the cold war years.

Affleck wore a Harris tweed jacket during the movie, dusting down its somewhat stuffy image. But Mendez disclosed that not only had he worn a Harris tweed jacket during his covert trip to Tehran in 1979, to help six US diplomats caught up in the embassy siege escape, but that the tweed was the de rigeur for CIA agents at the time and throughout most of the cold war.

Mendez said when Affleck, who directed the movie, was making preparations, one of his staff phoned him to ask what he had worn in Tehran. He said a Harris tweed jacket, slacks and a pair of cordovan shoes with wingtips.

“That was our uniform,” Mendez said. “The jackets were representative of our group. Those of us in the CIA who did overseas work, work in the field. If you were in the field during the Blitz, you wore a trench coat. If you were tracking Ivan [the Soviet Union and its allies], you had Harris tweed.”

The occasion for the Tweed industry’s recognition of Mendez was a lunch to mark the launch of the Need for Tweed website.

Strategically Pyrrhic coups and unlimited drone warfare we might do without, but there’s a lot to be said for the CIA’s taste in fashion and magazines.

about the author

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, and Editor-at-Large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, The National Interest, Reason, and many other publications. Outside of journalism he has worked as internet communications coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign and as senior editor of ISI Books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied classics. Follow him on Twitter.

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