In this era, many people see gender as fluid. That has freed guys to make choices that were unavailable just a few years ago. It’s not uncommon now to see men sporting looks that were once the province of women: bright colors, soft and frilly materials, cute handbags. If you live in a large city, you’re likely to run into guys in skirts on occasion, too.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Turnaround is fair play. Women have long worn “male” clothing. For example, no one has ever looked as good in a suit as did Kate Hepburn. Consider also the wide ties worn by Diane Keaton as “Annie Hall” or the boxy suits of the Teddy Girls of 1950s London.
But there is a decidedly masculine area of style available to men that cannot be adopted by even the most fashion-forward or daring of women: the mustache.
A mustache is like a sign worn on your face that says “I have an XY chromosome.” And some guys want to wear such a sign – even guys who sometimes like to wear a skirt.
But a word or two of warning is in order. Not everyone can pull off a mustache (regardless of their chromosomes.) And not every mustache is suitable for every face.
“Should I grow a mustache?” A better question is “Can I grow a mustache?”
A mustache is a signifier of masculinity. Therein is a problem. In order for a mustache to look good, it must look masculine. In other words, a mustache needs to be made of manly whiskers, not of wispy hairs.
Think back to junior-high school. There were almost certainly guys you knew who thought they had mustaches. But all they really had was a sort of lame accumulation of hair above their lips. In most cases, teenagers like that are just rushing things. If they shaved their faces for another year or so, those hairs would become whiskers and their mustaches would look great.
But there are also guys who simply never develop much in the way of thick and healthy facial hair. If you are one of those guys, you’re better off not even trying to grow a mustache. If the best your face can manage is peach fuzz, then a mustache is not for you.
Mustaches for Different Face Shapes
Choosing a mustache style, just like choosing eyeglass frames, requires you to know your face shape.
Not every type of mustache works on every face shape. (Well, actually, just about any mustache will work on an oval face shape.)
A Square face, for example, looks awful with a Pencil mustache that adds width. A Round face looks ridiculous with a Walrus mustache.
The Web is full of advice on how to figure out your face shape and then choose a flattering mustache style. Spend some time learning what’s likely to work for you before you start growing a mustache.
Grooming your mustache
If you’re committed to wearing a mustache, please also commit to keeping it clean. You don’t want the first thing your face says to people to be “Look! I had pizza for lunch.” Use a napkin. Carry a small mirror or use the camera in your phone to check your face for leftovers. Don’t be a slob.
Commit also to caring for your mustache appropriately. Most guys would never try to cut their own hair. But having a mustache means you must get handy with scissors.
So invest a little cash to get appropriate accessories, i.e., a small brush, comb and scissors. Then start using them. Daily.
You’ll want to trim the whiskers so that they partially cover the top of your lip but don’t reach your mouth. That’s harder than it sounds, particularly if you have a thin upper lip.
Unless you’ve decided to grow a Horseshoe or Fu Manchu mustache (and frankly, you really shouldn’t), trim the edges so that they don’t reach below the corners of your mouth.
A mustache isn’t for everyone. Some guys can’t grow them. Some mustaches look silly on some faces. Some mustache styles just won’t work for anyone.
Still, there’s no denying the masculine appeal of a mustache. So most guys wind up at least trying to grow one at some point in their lives.
When it’s that time for you, get a second (and third) opinion on any style you choose. If your friends and lovers hate it, it’s not for you. Similarly, if your best efforts won’t yield solid whiskers, it's time to cut your losses and cut off the facial hair.
Once you’ve decided what to wear above your lip, it’s time to decide what to wear below your neck. Taelor can help. Taelor is a menswear rental subscription service that aims to help men prepare for their week and look great when it matters most. Our styling service, powered by a human stylist and assisted by artificial intelligence, finds the clothes that help you win – at work, on a date, at a party, or wherever you spend your time.