Let’s take a moment to step back and see how fashionable men are looking at this moment in time. You’ve probably noticed a proliferation of thick moustaches - well away from the month of Movember - alongside lean and toned bodies all clothed in fitted, retro sportswear. It’s hard not to see his counterpart mirrored from the late 70s or early 80s. An era of disco, gay liberation and pre-AIDS.
Left - How men are looking today - lean, toned and a hair top lip - Gone is the bearded and tattooed hipster
This isn’t just gay men either. Young straight men and homosexual men are almost indecipherable in how they look, today, bouncing the trends off one another and have the confidence to do as they please, rather than worry about being labelled either way.
I was recently in a gay pub in East London. In walked three young guys all proudly sporting cropped hair and thick moustaches. I thought it was interesting how they looked like the same young men from nearly 40 years ago. I wondered why all these things: the clothes, the body shape and facial hair styles, had all collided back to this one point in time. And, then I thought, maybe it’s because we’re entering a Post-AIDS era?
Right - Two Supermen, 40 years apart - Henry Cavill & Christopher Reeve
Thanks to medication, HIV can be prevented and people who do have it can no longer pass it on. Medication such as PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) can stop HIV from taking hold. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed and it recently became available on the NHS.
Consciously or unconsciously, it feels like we can finally celebrate this time because we’re no longer scared of it. Previously, looking at the images from that era had a heavy melancholy knowing what was to come and how many men didn’t make it out of that decade. But, it feels like that has lifted. It’s a mental freedom that the fashion industry is clearly relishing and focusing on this hedonistic era and image of hyper-masculinity.
Popular Instagram accounts such as ‘TheAidsMemorial’ celebrates the lives of men who lost their lives and it’s interesting how contemporary these images look. Publications such as ‘Gayletter’ play with retro homoerotic imagery and books such as ‘Fire Island Pines’ , is a collection of Polaroids from 1975-1983 of men holidaying in Fire Island in Long Island, New York, and they look like a contemporary men's swimwear shoot. Recent films like ‘Tom of Finland’ focuses on the illustrator who drew the fetish/leather side of gay men and can be seen throughout the recent AW18 collection from Moschino.
Left - Photography book - Fire Island Pines by Tom Bianchi
This is obviously centred on the gay community, but gay men influence straight men, so quickly now, and vice versa.
“In the inimitable words of power PR Samantha Jones of TV show ‘Sex and the City’ (fictional, of course) "First comes the Gays, then the girls and then the industry"!says David M Watts, Editor & Publisher, Wattswhat Magazine.
"Gay men have historically been regarded as trend setters when it comes to fashion and style. However, the resurgence of male erotica imagery making its way into mainstream fashion has more to do with lazy millennial designers looking back and copying 80s and 90s imagery rather than using it as inspiration to create something new,” says Watts.
Right - Moschino AW18
Contemporary films, documentaries and TV shows such as Ready Player One, Stranger Things, The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Antonio Lopez: Sex, Fashion & Disco - Read TheChicGeek review here, keep us continually coming back to the 70s and 80s.
“I think nostalgia is a feeling which anchors us in a constantly-changing world, and that period between the late-Seventies and mid-Eighties, pre-AIDS crisis, pre-Section 28, and the birth of the Gay Liberation movement, is sometimes seen by gay men as a golden age of hedonism and queer sexual politics. Hence the continued popularity of the music and style from that period,” says Lee Clatworthy, Writer and Press and Media Officer for Sparkle - The National Transgender Charity.
"I think this style has filtered down to the mainstream because of the availability of cheap flights to cities like Berlin, which has a large queer art community, but is also a focal point for innovative electronic music and club culture at present.” says Clatworthy.
Gone is that built, steroid-fed and hairless muscular body of the 90s and in its place is a more natural yet Instagramable toned shape. It’s more youthful and suits the current fitted style of men's clothes.
Trying not to fixate on the moustache too much, but it’s definitely one of the defining factors linking the two eras, one thing to know is, it’s not the twiddly gin-drinking Victorian type, but the solid Magnum PI style. The many years of Movember would have played a part in its return, but it’s most probably a reaction to the hipster beard.
Left - GQ Style SS18
“I would say guys wearing the moustache are normally stylish and looking to stand out a bit more in a world of beards. It normally means they are confident in themselves too.” says Tom Chapman, Founder of the Lions Barber Collective.
“I think the obsession with facial hair as a whole has been with us for a few years now, but people are starting to feel confident with a furry face and beginning to experiment with different shapes. There are so many choices when it comes to the moustache which can be easily changeable and stylable.” says Chapman.
Right - Selfie from Pinterest
“The thicker, denser looks with less styling have definitely come from those 70/80 icons such as Freddy Mercury and Hulk Hogan and I would say that young men are most definitely influenced by iconic TV and films. They have a powerful way of making something feel cool or stylish.” Chapman says.
While this ‘PrEPpy’ look has already been strong, particularly amongst East London gay men, it is definitely being pushed out into the wider male aesthetic. As we move further away from the bearded hipster, this seems to be its cool replacement. It is starting to influence straight males who won’t even know where it’s come from.
Or, it could simply be just a lot of young men with moustaches. It’s only a theory!
Left - Clearly influence by Tom of Finland, GQ Style SS18 showing the lean, toned and tached male look
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
Over the centuries, the humble beard has been through many styles and transformations, but British men continue to love them and use them as a means of expressing their individuality. So far, we’ve witnessed everything from the glitter beard bomb of 2016, to intricate plait designs and wax styling wonders that would make most catwalk models jealous. Just when you think there’s a lull in beard trends, some crazy new twist is put on them to bring them back to the here and now.
So, which style do you go for when it’s time for a trim? Whether it’s the artistic goatee, the traditional gentlemen’s moustache, a bohemian style with funky dyes, or the full fisherman’s beard, each of these styles have something to say about your personality. However, it appears your facial hair can also be determined by where you live. In the following infographic, not only will you learn about the most popular beard trends of 2017 in Britain, but you’ll see why those who hail from Leeds are more likely to opt for the chin curtain, those from Sheffield prefer the mutton chops look, and Geordie’s choose the goatee. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how our facial hair trends in the UK compared to those overseas, and some handy ideas on grooming.
Ideally if this is your first time growing a beard I would recommend a visit to a barber for advice. However, if you are unable to get to one, here are a few tips to help ensure that you get off to the right start.
Senior Barber at Gentlemen's Tonic, Imad Khaireddin
Whilst everyone experiences hair growth at different rates, you should typically allow the hair to grow in length for around 4-6 days. Ensure that your electric clipper has graded numbers and a half setting to allow for some flexibility in choosing your preferred length. The grades refer to the length of the hair in millimeters, for example grade 1 means the hair will be cut to between 1 -3 millimeters in length where as grade 2 represents between 2-6 millimeters in length.
Do make certain that you start with a dry beard. If you're unsure how short you would like your beard to be, it is best to start trimming with a higher clipper grade. You can then repeat the process with a lower grade if you wish. In cases where the thickness of the beard differs on various parts of the face it is best to use a short grade on the thicker areas such as the chin or moustache area, and a longer grade on the thinner areas to achieve an even finish.
When you are happy with the length, take some time tidying up your beard. Set your clipper on 0 and remove the clipper guard if you have been using one. The teeth should be closed. Tilting your head back slightly, use the flat side of your clipper to create a line from left to right above the Adam's apple. Use your own discretion but try not to take the line too high or too low. To create a natural finish to the beard, trim the neck area with the clippers on a grade lower than you used to trim the bulk of the beard. You can put a small amount of shave oil into the beard when finished to ensure it looks shiny and healthy.
Gentlemen's Tonic is a traditional yet contemporary barber in the heart of Mayfair. Combining traditional barber shop treatments such as wet shaves and hair cutting with spa treatments such as eyebrow threading and thai massage, Gentlemen's Tonic also have branches in the City of London, Houston, Texas and more recently Selfridges, Oxford Street. TheChicGeek is a fan of the post party "Hemingway" treatment which constitutes of a Bloody Mary, aromatherapy facial and massage.
Sometimes men forget that beards require the same care as the hair on their heads. The result of neglected beards is wild whiskers, dry facial skin and damaged hairs. Beard oil helps to replenish and condition facial hair. It’s usually made from a unique blend of natural oils such as jojoba, lavender, grapefruit, tea tree, and almond oil. These ingredients work together to moisturise, nourish, and sooth both your beard and skin. Some of these oils are also scented, thus leaving your beard with a nice smell.
Used properly, beard oil improves the appearance of facial hair and can help to sooth itchiness. But it’s still important to point out there is a right and wrong way to use this oil. Slathering a fist full of oil occasionally may be what most men do but that will not deliver the best results.
If you want to get the best possible outcome, you should use beard oil regularly. The essential oils also have to penetrate your beard and reach the skin. Here are some quick steps on how to use beard oil properly:
Step 1 - Pour a few drops of your favorite beard oil in the palm of one hand.
Step 2 - Gently rub the oil into your beard, goatee, and moustache. Make sure to work deep into your beard so that the oil gets to the skin below.
Step 3 - If you have a full grown beard, use a bristle brush or comb to groom and style your facial hair as normal.
Step 4 - Wash your hands with warm water and soap to rinse off excess oil from your hands.
Remember to develop a routine because sporadic applications of beard oil just will not do. Instead, a consistent daily routine should be adopted to keep your beard healthy, soft, and looking good at all times.
Thanks to www.beardtrimmerreviews.co.uk for the advice.