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28 October 2014

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A spy often needs a cover to conceal his true identity. It can be as simple as just the use of a fake name. A legend is the term for a very sophisticated cover. Creating a legend means creating an entire false life.

A spy has to completely live their legend. They must be sure not to carry anything that would point to their true identity. A well-prepared legend not only provides the documents that he needs to pass himself off as his new identity, such as passports and birth certificates, but also the paperwork you might expect to be generated by any ordinary person. They must have the ticket stubs, receipts, certificates, letters, postcards etc that feature in everyday life. The slightest error in a legend can be the thing that gives a spy away.

Clothing and Disguises
The Fine Details
Clothing and Disguises
Clothing can be one of the biggest giveaways when trying to fit in to a strange country. Spies will go to great lengths to ensure there is nothing about them that can arrouse suspicion. A spy living in a foreign country will not only have to ensure that their clothes are brands available where they are living, but also that the clothing is aged appropriately. During World War II, intelligence agencies recruited experts from the theatre to break-down clothes and other items so they looked as though they'd been worn for years.

It sounds crazy, but spies will go to great lengths to change their appearance. Sometimes this will be as simple as changing their coat, but can involve proper disguises such as fake beards! In the 1960s spies were issued with kits containing a range of strange items including false heels which would alter the way you walked and moustache manuals to help you shape your fake moustache.
The Fine Details
Disguising identity involves more than just changing your appearance. Even the every day items that everyone carries need to be beyond suspsicion. Things like toothpaste, lipsticks, matches, etc all have to be the appropriate brands. Things also have to look used. Most people's wallets and watches show signs of wear and tear, it is important that the spies possessions also look natural and beyond suspicion.

During the war years intelligence services would offer refugees new possessions. They would then take the old things away, supposedly to be disposed of, but really they would be used to kit out their team of spies.
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