Town mouse considers the resurgence of facial hair

The beard is back.

Facial hair: where do you stand on it? It’s one of the few male fashion accessories that’s guaranteed to be noticed. After the post-Sgt Pepper explosion of beardiness in the late 1960s, the male chin settled down to a long period of abstinence. Fashion might forget to shave, producing designer stubble, but rarely did the growth become established as a permanent fixture. In recent years, pencil lines of moustache and dabs of chin fuzz have been appearing, in tribute to the carefully styled beards of the fin de siècle, but now the foot has been taken off the accelerator. In London, I see beards on all sides and proper big ones, too.

The medieval Knights Templar wore beards: they’d noticed that their opponents in the Holy Land grew them, as a military tactic, because they looked so frightening to the enemy. Muslims have continued to do beards well and their example must have inspired some aspects of the current trend. I also detect a dividend from the First World War, whose centenary has reminded us of a great age of the moustache. On a train to Kent the other day, I saw a man who might actually have been Lord Kitchener. I watched with fascination as he waxed the points of his tea strainer, but did wonder about the etiquette. Should it be done in public?

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