Saturday, August 18, 2012

Victorian Mustaches

Lately I have been noticing more men sporting mustaches. With the rise of hipsterism, more young men are engaging in pogonotrophy - the growing of facial hair (literally translated as beard feeding). I have observed that many of these young hipsters are taking on old Victorian styles like moustache waxing. This led me to think about the history of the stache during the 19th century.

I think a monocle and a penny farthing would complete this dapper look.

From 1800 to about 1880, beards and mutton chops were all the rage for men. It was considered that only calvary officers, dancing masters and dandies would sport a mustache alone. A full beard was also considered a sign of virility and masculinity.

Look at that fertile beard!

Notable too was that
for a precise shave one had to go to a barber (also called a chirotonsor) making it more economical to grow a full beard.
Until the mid 19th century it was not uncommon for barbers to be paid more than some doctors. The white on the barbers pole stood for shaving and the red for surgical procedures. Besides shaves, they performed bloodletting and leeching, extraction of teeth, the lancing of boils and enemas. I sure hope the enemas and haircutting were not in the same room at the same time.

The happy mutton chop. Another popular style from the mid 19th century.

Things changed during the 1880s, when the gentleman's safety razor came into popularity. No longer did one have to rely on the barbers strope and blade. A more clean shaven style became popular and fancy mustaches abounded, letting the average male express himself above his lip. Here are some examples of 19th century gentleman sporting various styles.

English mustache

Handlebar mustache


No idea. It's somewhere between an imperial and a happy mutton chop.

Okay, enough, that's out of control!

Now that's really too much stache! And the wrong century!

After 1910 mustaches began to fade in fashion. The First World War also helped lead to this demise, as it made more sense militarily to be clean shaven for the trenches. This continued into the 20s with men favoring a clean sportier look.
These days two trends are bringing facial hair back. First as I mentioned - hipsters (I don't know why this is popular amongst them - perhaps I should ask some to find out) and secondly steampunk! With it's look back to the Victorian era, one cannot think but to wax one's mustache in nostalgia.
What is your take on facial hair on men? Are you for it? Or only for certain styles?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. I'm all for it! I like it when they experiment with different styles.

  2. Brilliant! As you know, I'm an avid pogonotrist so this post is certainly entertaining for me. Well done. My beard and I say thanks, my Love.

  3. Wow, so many facial facts i never knew! And can one say "EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW" to that last photo?

    I don't like facial hair on men, generally speaking. Or at least on my man. I imagine it'd make intimate things like kissing more uncomfortable. Facial hair also tend to age a man.

    But I do love seeing creative steampunk facial hair! it just makes a steampunk gathering or covnention seem more flavorful, if that makes any sort of sense.

  4. So... my friend is a hipster because he enjoys doodling paper mustaches and putting them on? (he doesn't care about labels)
    I didn't know that. Anyway, interesting post!

  5. My husband has a gotee, but that's about all I can stand. A full beard is too much hair, but some men (like my husband) need a little facial hair to not look like a little boy. It just depends I guess.