Ever keen to keep an eye on trends we’ve noticed a bit of a spike on the beard agenda and can’t help but observe that the issue of facial hair is a surprisingly controversial one.
In any other age male plumage was the accepted norm. It is instantly possible to distinguish a WWI movie from a WWII one, not by using the War Horses v’s Spitfires equation but by the whiskery mouser method. WWI film = bushy moustache groomed to a degree proportionate to Class, e.g. Working Class Squaddie – broomhead brush; Upper Class Officer – full on twiddly. WWII film = the only man other than David Niven or French Resistance Fighter sporting a ‘tache is Hitler.
By the clean shaven Fifties male facial hair was used as shorthand for a whole host of unpleasant archetypes; zoot suited cad, flat cap wearing bumpkin of Northern origin, tramp. Really, if you couldn’t get with the modern Gillette wielding age then you were worthy of nothing more than the world’s contempt.
Beardy blokes disappeared from the manscape to the extent that to lay down your razor was considered an act of subversion. To this day facial hair is still unacceptable to the extent that a bearded man who one can safely assume is not destitute, or whose beard is not religiously condoned, is likely to be either self-employed, or doing a Movember.
Bit of a shame really. How can we summon up such strength of feeling for hair? Talk about first world problems.
Having said that, could it all be changing? The sharp end of men’s fashion have been sporting a profusion of whiskers for the last couple of years – catch our Pitti Uomo post for some splendid examples – and more, and more celebs are stepping out in splendiferous unshaven style. Some fairing better than others.
Jeremy Paxman is the latest to emerge in hirsute form and it caused rather a stir in the slow news season.
Ben Fogle, Countrywise host and walking embodiment of all that is smooth of face, expressed beard envy on twitter claiming: ‘Every time I grow one I get told to shave by television execs. TV hates a good beard. I was once told I’d lose my job if I didn’t lose the beard.’ #savethebeard
So, what does it all mean for the man in the street – that’s you and us, in case you weren’t clear on that – is this a real trend? If we allow a little furring around the jaw will it pass muster in the land of mortals? For as we all know, what passes in celebville isn’t necessarily going to work on the mean streets of Kelso, or Harrogate, or Brighton. Actually, in Brighton you’re probably fine.
Well, we reckon that when GQ USA publishes a guide to something you can rest assured you’re looking at a fully fledged trend, and they did this a while back, so come on, catch up.
The GQ Modern Man’s Guide to Beards is a pretty good synopsis of the ins and outs of follicle growth; it covers how to get the perfect fade – what setting to have your beard trimmer on for face and neck, what not to do – don’t, ever, shave your neck right up to your fuzzy jaw and crucially, critically what women really think of bearded men.
If you are remotely thinking of going down the shaggy, laissez faire route then overlook their advice at your peril.
Overall we welcome the return of the fuzz but even within the confines of A Hume it’s a contentious issue. So we’ll give the last word to Karen Hume, for the sake of balance let’s here what she thinks:
“It is a complete mystery to me why a man as good looking as Ben Fogle would want to hide under a crumb catcher. From a hygiene point of view alone it’s dodgy. Occasionally a full beard can look distinguished but if Archie ever tried to grow one, not only would he look homeless, he would be.”
We think it’s safe to say that the A Hume look will remain clean and silky smooth.
If you’ve pondered the beard question and have any thoughts, pics or provocations you’d like to air please share, comment and like. Sometimes we feel like we’re just talking to ourselves.