The history of civilization as we know it has been humankind’s struggle to overcome nature, to assert order where entropy rules. But, as Christopher Oldstone-Moore writes in his book Of Beards and Men, each of us play out a microcosm of that struggle every morning in our personal grooming decisions.
The question at hand—to grow a beard or to shave—not only tells us a lot about ourselves as individuals, but also, writ large, about our culture as a whole.
“The history of men is literally written on their faces,” he writes.
While the surfeit of attention paid in recent years to a seeming bearded resurgence headed up by the world’s hipsters, athletes, and celebrities might lead one to believe that we’re living through one of the seismic facial hair realignments Oldstone-Moore identifies, we’re not quite there yet.
A “smooth face is still very much the norm,” he writes. You need look no further than the pages of publications like this one, with recurring features about how to get the best shave, to recognize how in thrall we’ve become to the cultivation of our facial geography. A beard, then, is still a signifier of outsider status, no matter how many trend pieces you might read.
It’s periods like the time of the Roman emperor Hadrian, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 19th Century that he points to as truly beard-centric eras, and in investigating the genesis of each movement throughout the book, he peeks behind the beard to lay out the political, religious, evolutionary, and broader cultural import of what seems on the surface like a largely ornamental matter of personal style.
These are sort of reactionary: pushing back against the prior norm, right? Beards would be seen as a way of differentiating yourself from the previous era where shaving might’ve been the status quo?
In part that’s true. It’s not that it’s just reacting to shaving as such, but it’s reacting to the cultural associations of shaving. Or even more precisely, it’s attempting to redefine manliness in a different way than the previous era did. One of the things I say is that shaving is actually the norm and it’s preeminent throughout the history of western civilization since Alexander, so that’s why it makes sense to talk about beard movements, because there are particular times in history when men have decided collectively to throw off that norm of shaving and adopt a different approach to expressing manliness.
My next effort then was to try to figure out why they did that at that particular time.
It’s a hot topic at the moment.
Have you ever grown a beard? Maybe you’re wondering how to grow a beard. Or perhaps you have a beard and you want to know how to style it.
Or perhaps it’s not your thing. What if I tell you beards are awesome?
Women love beards because they’re associated with masculinity. More facial hair = more masculine. Take a look at the leading guys in TV shows and movies and you’re bound to find a man (or several) with beards: Think Paul Newman. Chuck Norris. Dave Grohl. Santa.
A quick check online shows that terms like “manscaping”, “beard styles” and “facial hair styles” are trending more than ever. Beards are badass and they’re here to stay.
You might be thinking “What does Antonio know about beards?”
Fair question… most of the time, I’m cleanly shaven. But Real Men Real Style isn’t just about clothes; it’s about style. And beards are stylish.
True beardsmen understand an important point about growing facial hair – that choosing the right beard style for any man depends on a variety of factors. Sure, you may love a particular style, but the question is, “Will it look good on you?”
The answer to that question takes many things into account, from facial shape to hairstyle, and even the color of your clothes.
In this post we will look at some of the best beard styles and who the best candidates are to rock them. A beard on the wrong face shape or paired with the wrong hairstyle can make a kickass patch of facial hair look mediocre… And we don’t like mediocrity.