There are certain steadfast rules which I think ought to guide a man safely through the perilous Scylla and Charybdis that are Fashion and Fad. They’re all pretty obvious, but still bear repeating, even in our enlightened times: 1) Don’t wear linen or white before the end of May (t-shirts excepted). 2) Be sure the leather of your belt matches your shoes. 3) Only wear natural fibres. 4) Never feature facial hair.
Until last year, I managed to stick to these rules pretty well, apart from a period of youthful rebellion during which I had a fleeting romance with rayon. It’s the facial hair rule that’s thrown me recently, in my almost middle-age, and I now admit to having what really awful marketing people call ‘designer stubble’.
We live in hairy times, and many are the men who now dare to make a show of their facial growth and prim their moustaches. But the recent fuss in the London press about Orlando Bloom’s new ‘tache, part of his look for his West End stage debut in ‘Celebration’, suggests that there is still some unease.
I’m prepared to admit that facial hair can work on a man (I’m less convinced that it’s works on women), and even look good. But if you are going to break the facial hair rule, at least adhere to some important guidelines: 1) NO GOATEES! They are ridiculous and probably make you look fat, certainly ugly. 2) No shaggy beards, à la a caveman-cum-late-1990s-acoustic-guitar-player-cum-witch-in-Macbeth, unless you are one. In fact, if it’s full coverage you’re seeking, stick with stubble – it can be generous, even longish (say, a number 2 or 3 with clippers), but don’t get extravagant. Equally, don’t make it too trim (I always think Tom Ford’s stubble is too groomed, for example.)
Moustaches require even greater care, and they have an important history that it’s nice to honour. While we now think of the moustache as a peculiar and particular blend of the Edwardian middle-class gentleman and the Village People, this curious facial adornment extends back at least to ancient Egypt. It has always been a marker of identity – whether artistic (Chaplin, Dali), sexual (Freddie Mercury) or political (er, Hitler) – and so it continues.
The type of moustache you chose says a lot about you, and there are many from which to choose: ‘The Cowboy’, ‘The Walrus’, ‘The Handlebar’, ‘The English’, ‘The Wing Commander’, ‘The Pencil’. Although I’m a designer stubble guy and not a moustache type, I think if you can pull off a David Niven-esque pencil (or, even an Orlando Bloom, if that’s your balliwick), then you’re on to a good thing. But remember, a good moustache, like a fine pair of shoes, needs serious care, just pop to Murdock for some advice.