The Gentlemanly Pursuit of the Moustache
With Movember upon the gents of this world once gain, our friends at Pall Mall Barbers ponder the appeal – or not – of the hirsute upper lip
Article by Nick Gilbert
Movember has been an annual event since its inception in 2003, and this year marks 13 years since the event was exported from its home in Oz to the UK. With the annual month of the moustache hovering over us, a look at moustache fashions seems entirely apt.
Moustaches, as with all facial hair, have fallen in and out of style over the years – sometimes much more fashionable and accepted, others criticized and considered creepy or unsavoury. One of the most resplendent celebrations of a moustache is to that of Edward, the Black Prince – so called because of the colour of his armour – with a moustache immortalised on his effigy at Canterbury Cathedral, his moustache flowing over his chainmail coif. A fitting nod to his careful pogonotrophy.
The pencil moustache, which runs in a fine and well-groomed line along the upper lip, has never really regained popularity since Errol Flynn’s and David Niven’s swashbuckling and debonair films of the 1940s. It’s been a staple of the subversive icon John Waters throughout his whole career.
Chaplin’s moustache, known as the toothbrush, was a key feature of the comic’s face – he first adopted it in 1914 to add a comic impression without obscuring his expressive face. The toothbrush fell out of favour entirely by 1945 (for certain reasons..) and has barely been seen since.
Salvador Dali’s obscure and unmistakable moustache was a trademark of the artist, and is the namesake of a style of moustache as recognised by the World Beard and Moustache Championships. The Dali is narrow with long points, bent upwards, and tends to be worn by a quirky few. The equivalent pointing downwards is the Fu Manchu – always worn by masterminds with evil intent in fiction.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the favoured style was the Chevron – a style which covered the entirety of the upper lip, but no further out than the edges of the upper lip – the classic Tom Selleck or “pornstache” style.
The world record holder for the longest moustache – at an astonishing 14ft – is Ram Singh Chauhan of India. You probably won’t manage that in one Movember, though – Chauhan started growing his in 1970. He has seen moustaches go in and out of fashion countless times of the years, but his dedication has never wavered.
With Movember around the corner whichever style you end up growing, careful cultivation and styling are key. For longer moustaches, ensuring a careful conditioning regime will keep it in tip top condition – use a beard oil to hydrate the hair follicles. To style and twizzle the ends, a moustache wax is absolutely imperative – try one with beeswax, such as the Pall Mall Barbers Moustache Wax. Add a little and style using fingers and a comb. You can always add more – but you can’t take it away!
Enquiries: Pall Mall Barbers, various locations / www.pallmallbarbers.com/