November 2, 2006

Mustaches. What are they supposed to mean these days?

A big NYT Style article on mustaches (which if you don't know already, you can probably guess I loathe):
ARE mustaches cool? Uncool? Or so painfully uncool they are actually kind of hip? It’s possible they are all three at once, depending on who is wearing one and who is taking notice. One thing is for sure: No other style of male grooming sends so many potent — and often mixed — signals.
So, achieve complexity through facial hair stranded on the one part of your face where it's most likely to collect filth and annoy women? Don't you want your image to resonate with these great hip icons of today:


Meade said...

I can't find my knees"

knoxgirl said...

They forgot Dr. Tobias Funke from Arrested Development.

George said...

I believe everything it reports about fashion, fashion designers, style, makeup, shopping, decorating, architecture, gardening, cooking, restaurants, ballet, painting, and travel.

I love the way its pages are designed and how it uses of photography and illustration.

I regard its science articles and movie and book reviews with an untrimmed arched eyebrow.

I believe none of its political reports.

I don't read its sports or business section. Does it have them?

The New York Times is almost as good as Vogue, except it doesn't have slick paper.

Meade said...

U - I would shave 4 u
Darling if u want me 2
U - I would shave 4 u
2 3 4 u

Beachcomber said...

Hmmmmm, mustaches. Grew one in my early 20s thinking it made me look older. Got rid of it in my late 30s for precisely the same reason. Some of us are just slow learners.

al said...

These are hip people? Scary.

As for me - my wife has never seen my upper lip.

bearing said...

Disclaimer: I am female.

Grew one in my early 20s thinking it made me look older.

Ew. That's the second-worst kind of mustache.

(The worst is "Grew one when I was 16 thinking it made me look older.")

(shudder, thinking of high school boys)

Doug said...

Back in my college days at Mich St., it seemed like all the cops had the same mustache, except for the chicks. My roommate, with his kneejerk, youthful, faux rebeliousness, used to call the East Lansing police "Fascists with Staches".

I have never had a mustache, and probably never will. I see more and more young kids with the cheesy little peach fuzz growth on the top of their lip.

TMink said...

I am mustachioed and have a goatee as well. Personally, I have been ready to shave it off for some time. I grew the beard part because I could finally grow a beard at 30, and did so in a testosterone inspired act of hair growing. But the wife actually LIKES them. And she has to look at my face more than I, so on they stay.

I wish she would treat her hair length with the same magnanimous empathy! Heh.


Simon said...

I'm fortunate enough to be fairly fair-haired, so any beard or 'tache I grew would look pretty crummy (think William Atherton in Ghostbusters). But in any event, if I don't shave for a day or two, my wife starts giving me grief about "sharp face." So my clean-shavenness conveys this, exceedingly complex signal: "I'm willing to take ten minutes out of my day to keep my wife happy." ;)

Anonymous said...


Police and hippies in East Lansing? I suddenly had a flashback to the few years I lived there in the mid-70s. They used to have a cops versus hippies charity football game -- "Pigs and Freaks" -- lots of moustaches and flowing hair.

Man, that's a blast from the past.

Dave said...

I could grow a full beard by the time I was 17 and have shaved every day since at least 16.

I have had a full beard before (especially when I went camping for 3 months in the southwest US after college) but I have never had a mustache and never will.

Wade_Garrett said...

I maintain that women only dislike mustaches on unattractive men. In my lifetime, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Michael Vick, among others, have all worn mustaches at the peak of their popularity as male sex symbols. A lot of women think that mustaches make good-looking men look more manly. Mustaches make certain unattractive men look creepy, but that has more to do with the man than it does with the mustache, in my opinion.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am in the "no one has seen my upper lip in decades" crowd. Yes, I might look younger if I shaved it off. Falling prey to female pressure, I did dye it a couple of years ago, but left the dye in too long, and turned it too dark. Looked kinda silly as it grew out. But I keep it short enough any more, that that was less than a month.

Actually, I don't think I have been without facial hair for more than a couple of months at a time since about half way through college, some 35 years ago. We still have a lot of pictures of me from then with those huge sideburns almost touching my long mustache. And, of course, the long hair to match. Same basic haircut and mustache, both a lot shorter and somewhat grayer though (esp. the hair now).

My biggest problem is that they freeze a lot when skiing, which is one reason that I keep it a lot shorter now.

About 5 years ago, I got talked into growing a lip beard / soul patch. I did it on a week+ long backcountry ski trip, where we didn't shave. Had it for a couple of months over a lot of objections, until my girl friend at the time talked me into shaving it off.

If I marry again, and my wife insists, I would cut it off. But short of that, I expect to probably die with it.

Bruce Hayden said...

What is weird is seeing one of those stars without his mustache, esp. before he grew it out. Orlando Bloom is easy, of course, since he was clean shaven in all those LOR movies. But most of the rest, their mustaches have become part of their image.

JorgXMcKie said...

I came out of service in the summer of 66 and said to myself, "Nodamnbody is ever going to be able to tell me to shave, and make it stick, again."

When I got married, my wife said I might not want to have wedding pics with a mustache that I wouldn't always have (it'd been 4 years) so I shaved it off for the wedding. When my son was 4, he looked up at the wedding pic and said, "Who's the skinny guy with Mom?"

Anyhoo, I had a mustache with or without a beard from the day after my wedding for the next 13 years, until my daughter was 10. I shaved it off and she looked at me and said, "Grow it back." I have now gone an additional 23 years with (mostly) beard and mustache.

I currently have a Santa Claus full beard, but I'll be trimming and reshaping it soon. I play with it because I don't have much hair on the top of my head.

I am re-married, and my wife and I have been together for 18 years and she has never seen me without a beard and mustache.

For whatever reason now, it's part of me.

(Also, I have a brother who looks a lot like me, and once he shaved off his beard then promptly began growing it back. When asked why, he said, "Without it, I discovered I have a double chin. It's way easier to grow a beard than to lose 25 pounds.")

Doug said...

Pastor, I didn't hit East Lansing unti 1985, so I missed out on that. I did have a friend who grew up in the area and he told me about those games. He said most people rooted for the Freaks.

Al Maviva said...

Moustaches aren't that bad, on some people. Where would Saddam Hussein be without that enormous muskrat on his lip? Nowhere. He'd look like the parking garage attendant in my building. How 'bout Burt Reynolds?

As for me... I usually grow a beard in the winter months, starting around Thanksgiving. It usually turns into a goatee around Feb 25 or so, then into a pornstar moustache for maybe a day or two, then I shave it off. It's nice to have a beard while doing long bicycle training rides through the winter, though I'll admit to some cognitive dissonance as I'm shaving my legs...

Hecla Ma said...

Tom Selleck is the only man who should wear a mustache. Looks great on him, and I'm not even much of a fan.

All other mustaches look bad.

Hecla Ma said...

Wait! Let me amend: A mustache w/ goatee....very nice indeed!

Goesh said...

- neatly trimmed, close-cropped beard and 'stache here, which I've had for too many years to remember. I threaten to let my hair grow down to my shoulders again but Wifey just laughs and knows it's a hollow threat. She abides me hence the whiskers and all my granddaughters still wrinkle their faces when I give them a kiss on the cheek. They abide Poppa's whiskers too because I let them all jump on the bed until they were 7 yrs. old each, despite Wifey's strong protests.

El Presidente said...

There is no machismo in the norte americano mustachio.

Christy said...

A Battlestar Galactica episode ended recently with a scene devoted to Edward James Olmos' character, Admiral Adama, symbolically shaving off a mustache -- new beginnings, new hope for the humans.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a rule about 20th Century autocrats requiring bad facial hair.

The Romans, good sensible folks that they were, strongly opposed it, and Marcus Aurelius' refusal to shave might have been a preface to the Imperial decline.

Doug said...

I heard there used to be an unwritten rule about Burt Reynolds, if he had a mustache in his movie, it sucked(Smokey and the Bandit), if he shaved it off(suck as Deliverance), it was a good movie. Though I think he had the fuller beard and mustache in Boogie Nights, and that was one I enjoyed.

I would feel bad if I didn't mention Evil Cartman in South Park had a goatee and stache and Ned Flanders

rhodeymark1 said...

My moustache draws attention away from the remnants of youth (a couple nose breakings). My wife has never seen me w/o it. I always wondered if Freddie Mercury grew his to (attempt to) minimize that overbite.

Al Maviva said...

Doug, I think you're referring to the ManLaws. The fact that you are unaware of the ManLaws makes you suspect, in my book. And what's this stuff about Smokey and the Bandit being a bad movie?

Scott, you are correct about the 20th Century Tyrants rule requiring facial hair. They all had profuse growths of facial hair - the Kaiser, Hitler, Stalin, and Annette Funicello.

TW: CEEOC - the Crustacean Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

John Tabin said...

Dave: I... have shaved every day since at least 16.

I have had a full beard before (especially when I went camping for 3 months in the southwest US after college)

Something about your story doesn't add up.

Doug: Evil Cartman in South Park had a goatee

Hmmm, sounds like that reference went over your head.

Anthony said...

I had a beard for about 6 years from about 21-27, from my last year or so of college. Unless I kept it very closely cropped it looked awful because I have curly hair. In retrospect, I probably did it because it made me look worse (for various reasons which I shan't go into), but it also fit in with my budding archaeological career. For some reason, academics just love facial hair. I don't remember any of my anthropology professors who didn't have a beard or mustaches (well, one didn't, and he was a child molester. . coincidence?).

Anyway, I finally started to tire of it and developed a fascination with shorn faces. So one Christmas Eve (1989) when I was alone, I pounded half a bottle of wine and did the deed. Then I stared at myself in the mirror for like 20 minutes.

Robert said...

OK, but how about a moustache and shorts?

That would look good to you, right?

(I apologize for that photograph.)

michael a litscher said...

I wore a mustache since I was 16, until about a year ago.

Got tired of trimming it short one week, and having the growth annoying me a week later, so I finally shaved it off. I figured I could always re-grow it if I missed it, but it has stayed off ever since.

I think I look much better without it - it made me look much too 70's porn star-ish.

GPE said...

Christy: A Battlestar Galactica episode ended recently with a scene devoted to Edward James Olmos' character, Admiral Adama, symbolically shaving off a mustache -- new beginnings...

Maybe this attitude is a guy thing. I've heard it expressed a number of times. I had a mustache for the entire time I was married (14 years) and for many years before that. When my wife died, I grew a goatee - hiding, mourning, withdrawing - whatever. Just seemed like the thing to do. A week or so ago I shaved it off. After reading this article, I'm giving more thought to shaving the mustache off as well. I'm not the same person I was. New beginnings, indeed.

Doug said...

Al, I may be unaware of ManLaws, but trust me, I am all man. Well, except for now, I am watching an Indian movie right now, Bride and Prejudice, which does make me a bit suspect.

John, I don't watch Star Trek, so I didn't connect it to that, but I thought Cartman looked pretty good with the goat.

Kirk Parker said...


Same here.

Uhhh, I mean my wife has never seen my upper lip either. (Although the other meaning is correct, too: I've certainly never seen your upper lip.)

Shaving is for people with waaaay too much time on their hands.

Mr. Forward said...

Had a neighbor who's wife had never seen him without full beard and moustache. He shaved it off one evening then went to sleep. His wife came home, turned the lights off, got into bed, gave him a good night kiss and then went screaming down the road in her pajamas.

class-factotum said...

I have noticed in corporate America that the only men with beards are the ones who are so good at their jobs that they are practically irreplaceable. Everyone else conforms and shaves. There are a few moustaches here and there, but the stupid (yes, I said stupid) soul patches are for those who have trust funds or low-paying jobs.

My dad was in the Air Force and I grew up on Air Force bases, so my formative facial hair years were spent around clean-shaven, short-haired men. I have never liked long hair or facial hair. I think it looks sloppy. I have kissed only one man with a moustache and it was scratchy. Never again.

George said...

There's a picture of a dude with a moustache on the front page of the Style section today.

Looks like he's got a mohawk, too.