An iconic and timeless sign of masculinity, the mustache has a long and storied history. Archaeologists believe mustaches may date back to the caveman era, but the modern mustache surfaced during the late 1500s in England. Over the years, mustache styles have evolved, coming in and out of popularity. At times, the facial hair was a symbol of status. In other eras, it was viewed as unclean and sometimes even recognized as a symbol of evil. Today, the mustache is as popular as ever because if we’re being honest, it never actually goes out of style.
While facial hair is an evergreen trend in grooming, mustache styles have varied over the years. Here, we’ve compiled a list of popular looks—some you should rock, others you should leave in the past.
The Best and Worst Mustache Styles for Men
1. The Handlebar
The verdict: Better not
Named after its resemblance to bicycle handlebars, the handlebar mustache features long ends that curl up. Dating back to the 19th century, Handlebar mustaches were sported by European soldiers during the World War I era and Wild West figures in the U.S. The handlebar is a bold statement and, while it was once wildly popular, it may be a bit excessive for modern times. But if you’re really gunning for it—think costume party, Halloween, or Movember—keep the middle portion under the nose trimmed and grow out the ends. Make sure you use a mustache wax or balm to keep those ends twirled.
2. The Chevron
The verdict: Give it a go
One of the most classic mustache styles, the chevron was popularized by actor Tom Selleck and is often referred to as the Selleck. A simple style, the Chevron is the ultimate dad stache, and covers the entire upper lip. A key to a good Chevron mustache is keeping any hair that hangs over the upper lip trimmed while maintaining a clean shave on the rest of the face. A neat and tidy look, the chevron is a safe and timeless style.
3. The Pencil
The verdict: Faux pas—unless done correctly
In the 1930s and 40s, the pencil was the mustache style of choice. As the name suggests, the style is typified by a thin line of hair above the upper lip and requires regular maintenance. You’ll want to keep this short enough so it doesn’t cover your top lip and trim the bottom so it follows the shape of your mouth. How thick or thin you wear it is a matter of personal preference, but we’d err on the longer side like Brad Pitt sports here, rather than, say, John Waters…
4. The Beardsatche
The verdict: Sport it all the damn time
One of the more popular styles, the beardstache is a gruffer look. Typically, it combines a full mustache—dealer’s choice: walrus, chevron, or horeshoe—with a heavy layer of stubble on the rest of the face. Recently, this style has become popular among celebrities as it requires minimal maintenance and is easily individualized. To keep your beardstache looking good, simply trim to maintain your desired length. Think Henry Cavill in Mission Impossible: Fallout.
5. Modern Horseshoe
The verdict: Try it out
While the full horseshoe is a little overbearing (Hulk Hogan), the modern horseshoe is a subtler take on the classic style. In the traditional horseshoe mustache, the hair is thick, full, and grows from above the lip all the way down the side of the face. The modern horseshoe follows a similar frame but in a slightly slimmer cut: The hair doesn’t grow over the top lip and the ends are shorter. To style, let the hair grow out and around the corners of the mouth but shave the ends before they go past the bottom lip.
6. The Toothbrush
The verdict: Leave it in the past
The Toothbrush is a thick mustache shaved down to the width of the nose, giving it a stubby appearance. First popularized by Charlie Chaplin, the toothbrush mustache was initially worn by factory workers and associated with the Industrial Revolution. Later, the style made its way to Germany and, uh, yeah, sported by Hitler—so definitely leave this style buried in history.
The verdict: Try it on for size
A big, thick mustache that covers the entire top lip and sometimes part of the bottom, the walrus got its name from its uncanny resemblance to a walrus’s whiskers. This style has been worn by iconic men over the years like Friedrich Nietzsche, Teddy Roosevelt, and Sam Elliott. Unfortunately, this look can’t be sported by all, as it needs to be full and requires a solid terminal length. You’ll need to comb regularly and use beard-trimming scissors to maintain your desired length. It’s more mountain man than city slicker, but who are we to tell you what to do with your facial hair.
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