Beard Backstory – Through the 20th Century

Spread the love

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.

Johann Strauss II - Master composer, titled ‘The Waltz King’ - Source: wikimedia.org

Johann Strauss II – Master composer, titled ‘The Waltz King’ – Source: wikimedia.org

Anton Chekhov - Legendary Russian playwright and short novelist. - Source: wikipedia.org

Anton Chekhov – Legendary Russian playwright and short novelist. – Source: wikipedia.org

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.

Franz Josef I - Emperor of Austria for 66 years. Don’t believe it? Ask those sideburns. - Source: mentalfloss.com

Franz Josef I – Emperor of Austria for 66 years. Don’t believe it? Ask those sideburns. – Source: mentalfloss.com

Captain Edward Smith, of the R.M.S. Titanic. - Source: pinterest.com

Captain Edward Smith, of the R.M.S. Titanic. – Source: pinterest.com

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.

‘King of Hollywood’, Clark Gable in ‘Comrade X’, 1940. - Source: pinterest.com

‘King of Hollywood’, Clark Gable in ‘Comrade X’, 1940. – Source: pinterest.com

Orson Welles, influential writer, director and actor, famous for the art of radio acting. - Source: litreactor.com

Orson Welles, influential writer, director and actor, famous for the art of radio acting. – Source: litreactor.com

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.

The Beatles, before their breakup grew beards. Even Paul grew a stubble. - Source: beatles22.weebly.com

The Beatles, before their breakup grew beards. Even Paul grew a stubble. – Source: beatles22.weebly.com

Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees. Disco in the flesh. - Source: superseventies.tumblr.com

Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees. Disco in the flesh. – Source: superseventies.tumblr.com

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.

Tom Selleck - owner of 90’s machismo and possibly the greatest moustache ever. - Source: citybarberct.com

Tom Selleck – owner of 90’s machismo and possibly the greatest moustache ever. – Source: citybarberct.com

Metallica frontman, James Hetfield, early 90s. Nuff’ said. - Source: pinterest.com

Metallica frontman, James Hetfield, early 90s. Nuff’ said. – Source: pinterest.com

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.

Keanu Reeves, around a decade ago. Source: ukhairdressers.com

Keanu Reeves, around a decade ago. Source: ukhairdressers.com

Johnny Depp, also around a decade ago. Source: fanpop.com

Johnny Depp, also around a decade ago. Source: fanpop.com

Modern Day

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.

Idris Elba with the good old salt n’ pepper look. - Source: theblaze.com

Idris Elba with the good old salt n’ pepper look. – Source: theblaze.com

 

To join the legacy of the beard, check out here.

 

 

 

 

Please wait...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get notified when new articles are published. Enter your email address and name.