Circa 2010, younger men across the globe seem to have rediscovered that apparently, they have the ability to grow kickass beards. However, beards are far from a modern invention – they’ve evolved and grown (and been trimmed) across different cultures through the eras. Let’s rewind the clock and take a look at how facial hair has changed over the last dozen decades.
Late 1800s – The Beard Renaissance
Through the late Victorian era, beards suddenly saw an explosion in popularity and length – the seemingly tame and restrained styles of the early 1800s gave way to men walking the streets of Vienna, London and Moscow with elaborate and grand displays of facial fortitude.
Early 1900s – Edwardian Era, post WW1
With the demands of a worldwide conflict, men simply had neither the time nor the freedom to grow the legendary beards of old. Most middle-aged and younger men chose to shave often – however, beards retained their place on the faces of older and wiser men – it was now considered as a symbol of age and maturity.
1940-50s – For those off the beaten path.
By the middle of the 20th century, beards had become quite rare – the clean shaven, all-American man was the preferred choice, no doubt made more common by the easy availability of Gillette’s modern shaving razors. However, amidst the sea of smooth faces grew a new style – the goatee. Jazz musicians, cultural movements such as the Beatnik movement and certain artists and actors kept the beard legacy alive through this era.
The 1960s-70s – Hippies bring the beard back.
Finally, after almost two decades of neglect, the beard made it back into mainstream styles once again – mainly due to the contribution of hippie culture, disco and a massive social revolution. From dinner parties to massive concerts, beards were being worn everywhere. This era also saw the rise of another facial accessory – the moustache.
80’s and 90’s – Toning it down again
After the beard explosion of the 60’s and 70’s, another cultural revolution took place – one that brought people into more orderly and clean sense of fashion. This revolution, of course, involved two things – a sense of conservatism and most importantly, the rise of corporate culture. Men lost their beards and smooth skin became the norm once again, although it had a revival when several alternative musicians who sported facial hair hit mainstream audience in the 90s. Soul patches, dyed beards and goatees made their way onto both stages and seats for concerts across the world.
The 2000s – Nonchalance supreme
Remember that time when every celebrity happened to wear stubble, a goatee, or some combination thereof? Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, David Beckham – they all plead guilty, and for good reason – the effortlessly casual stubble always added some charm, and still hasn’t quite lost it yet.
With pretty much every male face in Hollywood, every 20-something with something to prove and even several CEO-stamped faces sporting well-groomed full beards once again, I think it is safe to say that history is repeating itself. Men are no longer afraid to temper masculinity – with several factors such as softening corporate culture, the hashtag-hipster turn of male aesthetics – beards are back and hopefully, they’re here to stay.
To join the legacy of the beard, check out here.