It All Starts With the Beard

Illustrations by Justin Bryan Nelson

The Mutton Man
Model: Terry Richardson
Nothing says “I’m a wilderness buff with artistic tendencies” quite like muttonchops, especially when accompanied by a fast-plummeting mustache (not a goatee, mind you; the chin stays bare). Works best on extroverts with narrow faces.

The Chin Curtain
Model: Abe Lincoln
Not to be confused with the chin strap, the pencil-thin strip favored by David Ortiz types. This is more of a backwoods look, with up to an inch-and-a-half-long “curtain” descending from the jawline. Flattering for less-prominent chins.

The Garden Gnome
Model: Brad Pitt
When Pitt really lets himself go, this is what he ends up with: a scraggly upside-down pyramid. Best for men with straight or wavy whiskers and square or angular (not round) faces. Consider rubbing Clubman wax into your mustache to hold the pointy shape.

The Hollywoodian
Models: George Clooney, Jon Hamm
A mountain-man classic, often appropriated by stars looking for a quickie image shift. The thicker the coverage, the more authentic the man. Trim occasionally and clean up the neck, lest one end up with…the Van Winkle.

The Van Winkle
Model: Joaquin Phoenix, circa Letterman meltdown
The full monty as far as facial hair goes; takes months, if not years, to harvest. To counter its sex-repelling qualities, condition it a few times a week and run a comb through it now and then.

Nick Burns is the co-author of The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face (May 2010, Arsenal Pulp Press).

It All Starts With the Beard