Bad News, Beards
From The Guardian:

Hirsute men have been warned their attractiveness to potential partners may fade as facial hair becomes more prevalent, in a scenario researchers have called “peak beard”.
Research conducted by the University of NSW finds that, when people are confronted by a succession of bearded men, clean-shaven men become more attractive to them.

Photo: Brian Wilson, musician; beard and novelty t-shirt aficionado.
-Pete (currently bearded)

Bad News, Beards

From The Guardian:

Hirsute men have been warned their attractiveness to potential partners may fade as facial hair becomes more prevalent, in a scenario researchers have called “peak beard”.

Research conducted by the University of NSW finds that, when people are confronted by a succession of bearded men, clean-shaven men become more attractive to them.

Photo: Brian Wilson, musician; beard and novelty t-shirt aficionado.

-Pete (currently bearded)

"Putting on (H)airs"
The Appendix has a great story about Abraham Lincoln’s famous beard (or “whiskers,” as writers of that time would say). He grew it a few weeks before his inauguration, supposedly on the advice of Grace Bedell, an eleven year old girl who wrote him a letter during his campaign. An excerpt from the article:

Rather, Lincoln’s whiskers were meant to signify urbanity and refinement. Adopting a fashionable style of grooming—the wreath of whiskers that had been a fixture of men’s fashion for decades—Lincoln offered a visual counterpoint to persistent barbs about his rough manners, rural upbringing, and rustic sense of humor. Holzer, then, was at least partly right about the meaning of Lincoln’s whiskers. He was, in fact, shedding the campaign image of the frontier railsplitter. But instead of adopting the look of a firm patriarch (or even a stern sexton), he was cultivating the appearance of a man of the world: a person of humble origins but hard-earned cultural capital.
He had good reason to do so. Since assuming the national stage, Lincoln had been dogged by doubts about his social graces. An article from the Columbus, Ohio Crisis, for instance, lampooned his ignorance of classical languages, while informing polite readers that Lincoln had only recently “abstained from facetiously designating hotel napkins as towels.” And one contemporary, recalling an encounter between the former Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft and Lincoln noted a “most striking” contrast between the two: “the one courtly and precise in his every word and gesture, with the air of a trans-Atlantic statesman; the other bluff and awkward, his every utterance an apology for his ignorance of metropolitan manners and customs.” Eager to dispel these aspersions—especially in light of unfavorable comparisons between himself and the stately Jefferson Davis—Lincoln grew fashionable whiskers, not a patriarchal beard.
What does this story tell us about Old Abe Lincoln? Besides the obvious—that the “most famous beard in American history” was not a beard at all—it reveals something about the nature of power in Civil War-era America. Taking command of a sinking ship of state and confronted with dire questions about his fitness for office, Abraham Lincoln chose a set of symbols that emphasized urbanity over more obvious emblems of authority. Calling on an old set of ideas about gentility and power, the president-elect claimed, in effect, that the right to rule hinged as much on politeness as on patriarchal strength or the imprimatur of the people. It’s a strange story, to be sure. But it reminds us of the extraordinary currency of symbols like these: that faced with national dissolution and civil war, Lincoln sought the urbane sophistication required for his job in, of all places, his hair.

You can read the full story at The Appendix.
(Story found via IQ Fashion)

"Putting on (H)airs"

The Appendix has a great story about Abraham Lincoln’s famous beard (or “whiskers,” as writers of that time would say). He grew it a few weeks before his inauguration, supposedly on the advice of Grace Bedell, an eleven year old girl who wrote him a letter during his campaign. An excerpt from the article:

Rather, Lincoln’s whiskers were meant to signify urbanity and refinement. Adopting a fashionable style of grooming—the wreath of whiskers that had been a fixture of men’s fashion for decades—Lincoln offered a visual counterpoint to persistent barbs about his rough manners, rural upbringing, and rustic sense of humor. Holzer, then, was at least partly right about the meaning of Lincoln’s whiskers. He was, in fact, shedding the campaign image of the frontier railsplitter. But instead of adopting the look of a firm patriarch (or even a stern sexton), he was cultivating the appearance of a man of the world: a person of humble origins but hard-earned cultural capital.

He had good reason to do so. Since assuming the national stage, Lincoln had been dogged by doubts about his social graces. An article from the Columbus, Ohio Crisis, for instance, lampooned his ignorance of classical languages, while informing polite readers that Lincoln had only recently “abstained from facetiously designating hotel napkins as towels.” And one contemporary, recalling an encounter between the former Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft and Lincoln noted a “most striking” contrast between the two: “the one courtly and precise in his every word and gesture, with the air of a trans-Atlantic statesman; the other bluff and awkward, his every utterance an apology for his ignorance of metropolitan manners and customs.” Eager to dispel these aspersions—especially in light of unfavorable comparisons between himself and the stately Jefferson Davis—Lincoln grew fashionable whiskers, not a patriarchal beard.

What does this story tell us about Old Abe Lincoln? Besides the obvious—that the “most famous beard in American history” was not a beard at all—it reveals something about the nature of power in Civil War-era America. Taking command of a sinking ship of state and confronted with dire questions about his fitness for office, Abraham Lincoln chose a set of symbols that emphasized urbanity over more obvious emblems of authority. Calling on an old set of ideas about gentility and power, the president-elect claimed, in effect, that the right to rule hinged as much on politeness as on patriarchal strength or the imprimatur of the people. It’s a strange story, to be sure. But it reminds us of the extraordinary currency of symbols like these: that faced with national dissolution and civil war, Lincoln sought the urbane sophistication required for his job in, of all places, his hair.

You can read the full story at The Appendix.

(Story found via IQ Fashion)

From my pal Hodgman, who has been fighting to save his own mustache from the vicissitudes of the entertainment industry.

“When you dare Burt Reynolds, be prepared for anything.  That is what comic Steve Martin found out when he dared the actor to  shave off his mustache during the telecast of NBC-TV’s “the Tonight Show  Starring Johnny Carson” on September 25, 1978. Martin told Burt:  “You’re not a wild and crazy guy are you?” At that Reynolds got a razor  from a prop man and began shaving the mustache he had since 1973. He  also worse a fake arrow through his head. (UPI Photo/handout/Files)”

From my pal Hodgman, who has been fighting to save his own mustache from the vicissitudes of the entertainment industry.

“When you dare Burt Reynolds, be prepared for anything. That is what comic Steve Martin found out when he dared the actor to shave off his mustache during the telecast of NBC-TV’s “the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” on September 25, 1978. Martin told Burt: “You’re not a wild and crazy guy are you?” At that Reynolds got a razor from a prop man and began shaving the mustache he had since 1973. He also worse a fake arrow through his head. (UPI Photo/handout/Files)”

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.)

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.)