Q And Answer: What Facial Hair Should I Wear?

April 6, 2010

Q and Answer: What Facial Hair Should I Wear?

Ian writes: What constitutes appropriate facial hair? I’ve been sporting a goatee (just the chin, the mustache addition is the Van Dyke), but I’ll soon be graduating from law school and looking for jobs suitable for a middle-of-the-curve student. I have no idea what is considered appropriate- any advice? The well-dressed gentlemen is appropriate from head to toe, so I feel like this is included in your milieu.

Ah, the goatee.  Once the province of the hipster – the kind of hipster that snaps at the end of a particularly great poetry reading.  Now the province of the yokel and the doof.  The kind of yokel and doof who wear a goatee.

I understand completely your desire to tend a facial garden.  We all have that desire.  Sometimes, though, we must fight it.

Adam, my co-author, has a full beard.  It looks fantastic.  It’s striking, it’s well-cared-for, and it makes him look both serious and gentle.  If you are lucky enough to look great with a beard, then grow away.  Keep it neat, but feel free to get all Paul Kinsey.  You deserve it.  (And don’t do the 5-o’clock-shadow thing.  You’ll look like a douchey agent type.)

However, almost any other type of facial hair is profoundly dangerous.  The ironic moustache is ascendant in my neck of the woods, and is horrible.  It’s so popular that the sincere mustache, which we might otherwise get behind, is almost impossible to pull off.  The goatee is so poisoned by 15 years of steroid-addled third basemen that my mind starts to overheat just trying to think about a context in which it will look anything but silly.

Look: here’s a test.  If you ask ten people who you know, but aren’t deeply invested in you what they think of their facial hair, at least nine should say it looks “great” or “fantastic."  They should be certain that it’s better than none.  NINE OUT OF TEN. 

Otherwise, shave it off, and keep it clean.  You’ll look younger, fresher, and you won’t have to worry about the messages you’re sending.

(PS: If you’re bald, like Larry David and above, you might look extra cool with facial hair.  We spent a whole improv show admiring Brian Huskey’s mustache recently, and the guy who stars in this movie looks amazing with an unkempt beard.  But still, no goatees.)