Different Mustache Styles For Men
Posted on 03 May 2016
When growing a mustache, it may surprise you to know just how many styles are achievable from a small patch of hair above the upper lip. But there is perhaps no facial hair feature more instantly classy than a well-groomed mustache; and whilst they may not be treated with the same reverence they used to have, they still look as fine as they ever did. So if you’re looking to add a little style to your facial hair, look no further. We know a thing or two about how to sport a mustache. So below, we’ve put together a great guide on some of the many different mustache styles available to you. We guarantee that you’ll be able to find something to adorn your face with.
We’ll begin with perhaps the most noble of mustaches: the vaunted Handlebar mustache. We’re not saying that if you can grow this mustache, you’ll instantly join the ranks of the most stylish men alive. But we wouldn’t deny it, either. A handlebar is mostly defined, as the name implies, by its graspable edges. The center should be kept maintained at a normal, reasonable length; all the effort and glory in such mustaches is devoted to the edges, which can be grown out for months. To get that distinctive curl, you’ll need to use a styling agent, such as a beard balm or mustache wax, and twist the edges with your fingertips in your daily grooming routine; and this mustache is one that will certainly require daily grooming to maintain. But the pure classiness you will exude — and the looks of jealousy from other men with inferior facial hair — will more than make up for it. Not for the faint of mustache — but very, very rewarding.
Just like it sounds, the Petit Handlebar is a lighter version of the Handlebar mustache above, except with the bulk of the growth bounded by the edge of the lips. Some gentlemen may find that their natural hair allocation tends toward this style instead of a fuller Handlebar; and that’s perfectly acceptable. The process to growing one is fairly similar to the Handlebar, too. Just move your trimming boundaries inwards to control your length.
Another serious contender for grandest mustache, the Chevron is a classic, and one that shows onlookers within seconds that you’re serious about your manhood. Defined by its thick, bold look, it’s often such a facial hair centerpiece that it’s rarely paired with a beard. (Normally, we wouldn’t approve of shaving one’s face, but in this case, we’ll make an exception.) You’ll need to set aside a few months to make it to this level of mustache mastery; and thick (and straight) hair helps, but isn’t always necessary. With this style, it’s important to make sure you don’t let it grow over the upper lip or too far beyond the boundaries of your mouth; so regular trimming is in order to make sure it stays that way. Other than that, though, it’s not too much maintenance once fully grown — and it has our recommendation as another gentlemanly style.
The World Beard and Mustache Championships define this style as “narrow, long points bent or curved steeply upward; areas past the corner of the mouth must be shaved”. We define it as a sign that you’re no mustache newcomer. Originally popularized by its namesake Salvador Dali, the surrealist painter, it naturally carries a high-class, refined look. To achieve it, you’ll need a natural or artificial part in the middle of your mustache, as well as to shave away any areas of the mustache that extend beyond the edges of your mouth. After that, let it grow. Again, you’ll need a styling agent to hold this one in place, and it will take daily maintenance; but who would disagree that it’s worth such a fine look? Not us.
Similar to the Dali, but somewhat tempering its defiance of gravity, the English is a narrow style featuring long whiskers from the center above the upper lip, pulled to the sides and with tips slightly upturned. Complete the look with a bowler hat, suit, and a well-rehearsed delivery of “Well, old boy,” and you’ll exude a quaint British charm immediately.
Perhaps not very noble, but a well-known style nonetheless, the Horseshoe is a favorite of wrestlers, bikers and cowboys. It indeed resembles a horseshoe, hooking from one side of the face to the other in a thick inverted-U shape. It’s easiest to start with a full beard for this one, and carve away what you don’t need — but be careful not to cut your lines too thin when you do.
Often derided for its oriental roots and resemblance, the Fu Manchu can certainly be pulled off in ways that are closer to class than caricature. Think of an English without its support, hanging rather than tightly styled. A Fu Manchu will often also extend beyond the base on the chin. You’ll also want to be careful not to join it in the middle if you’re after the traditional Fu Manchu look. A variant is the Pancho Villa, which is similar to the Fu Manchu but worn thicker.
Similar in style to a Chevron Mustache, but overflowing the upper lip and covering parts of the mouth, the Walrus is a grand feature indeed. Perhaps the comparison with a large, aquatic mammal sporting the same style of mustache doesn't sound flattering. But the Walrus has been worn by some of history’s greatest gentlemen, from Theodore Roosevelt to Friedrich Nietzsche to Mark Twain; so you can be sure you’re standing amongst the greats if you sport this one. It naturally lends itself to thick, straight facial hair, but can be tried even if that isn’t you. To grow it, let your mustache grow thickly downwards, keeping the edges trimmed so you don’t stray too far from your mouth; and use a trimmer to keep it in check beneath the upper lip. Unless, of course, you want it to fully cover your mouth, as some of our historical heroes did. Good on you.
Attainable in a matter of weeks, the Pencil is light, simple, and easy to grow — making it perfect for gentlemen who aren’t endowed with extremely high facial hair growth capacity. The name comes from the light, pencil-drawn look of the style. It does need to be closely clipped regularly to maintain a solid shape, outlining the upper lip (but ever-so-slightly above it), and featuring a deliberate gap in the middle as worn by Clark Gable, for whom the style is known. A very classy throwback to the 1940s.
A true mustache classic, it takes its name from the legendary American artist, who pioneered the style. Combining a heavy, almost Horseshoe-esque mustache with a soul patch underneath, the Zappa is instantly recognizable and undeniably remarkable. It looks good full, so be sure to let it grow out — and a bit of stubble can be forgiven with this one too.
So named for one of its most famed wearers, the last German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, this style truly is as grand as the title would imply. Its volume and bushiness come from the fact that it includes not only the mustache, but also hair from the upper cheek (hair outside these regions is technically not permitted). In theory, “closed curls” are also forbidden; meaning that gentlemen with excessively curly hair will have a hard time trying to keep the hair from doubling back on itself. To grow it, brush your hairs upwards every day to train them into shape. You’ll also need to style it with product to make it keep its shape; but don’t twist, lest you end up with a more Dali or English style.
Also known as the Painter’s Brush (although it would be a stretch to say it resembles one), the Paintbrush is similar in form to the Chevron. In fact, the differences between them are few, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking them. However, the Paintbrush tends to be defined by its rounded edges, compared to the corners of the Chevron; and it almost always extends only to the edge of the mouth, not beyond. But if you sport one, and feel like a change, switching isn’t hard to do.
The Pyramid is just what it sounds like — a wide base tapering into a point just under the nose, with or without a part in the center. And just like the pyramids in Egypt have been renowned for their magnificent architecture for millennia, so too can a well-crafted Pyramid mustache show some serious style. George Clooney, a man quite well known for his dapper looks, has sported one successfully. When growing it, make sure you keep the base above the upper lip, and keep the shape of the top in check so that it resembles a triangle more than any other shape.
Similar to the Pyramid but with a wider top, the Lampshade resembles a trapezoid — the profile of a lampshade above the upper lip. If the Pyramid is a bit too bold for you, you may wish to try this one, which offers a fuller, slightly more natural shape as less of it is removed at the top. Of course, it works better if you have the hair to support it; but it’s a fairly low-key style, perfect for the gentleman just testing the waters of facial hair style.
Rumors abound about how the name of this style came to be. Some claim it comes from its boxy, rectangular resemblance to a boxcar. Others tell a story of Depression-era America, where barbers would offer the cheap cut to walk-ins in exchange for some clean-up work in the shop. Either way, it’s a bold and yet simple style to try out for yourself. Just keep the sides, top and bottom straight and angular — and you’ll fit right in to 1920s America.
Major (Double Boxcar)
Allegedly one of the few styles allowed under United States military grooming regulations, and possibly named for that, the Major is also known as the Double Boxcar. It’s easy to see why — as it resembles two smaller Boxcar mustaches side by side, one either side of the face. We suppose you could define it as a single Boxcar with a bit removed — but we’d prefer to put it this way. The style can allow for a bit more of a slope in the edges of the two ‘Boxcars’, should you so prefer; but strong angular lines are key with this style, like the Boxcar before it.
Only mentioned to say you should stay away from it — for obvious reasons. Charlie Chaplin made it popular, but after a certain German dictator became renowned for sporting the look, it carries some unsavory connotations. In the interest of your style, we’d recommend you steer clear of this one, gentlemen.
Also known as “accidental”, and for good reason: the intention is to allow you to feign unawareness of the ever-so-subtle mustache with which you are quite intentionally decorating your face. Whilst we wouldn’t ordinarily recommend treating the mustache as a feature to hide, you may prefer the subtlety of this approach to test the waters to a fuller style; or it may just be your face’s natural response to 12 hours without a razor. Either way, it’s a good start — but we encourage you to go further.
We’re throwing this one in last, as it’s somewhat hard to define what a natural mustache is, beyond saying that it’s the result of your face’s natural growth processes — because the fact is that it’s quite simply different for each man. As the name would suggest, this style doesn’t require any external styling agents (which would technically break the rules of a natural mustache), but it might involve some slight manipulation by hand and comb. This obviously leads to a much lower-maintenance look for gentlemen who prefer that; but it can still benefit from grooming and treatment with some good oil. The steps to growing your version of this style? Put down the razor. Wait. Enjoy.
The list above is by no means exhaustive; if it works on your face, and you can grow it, feel free to do so. Each of the styles above were born from bold gentleman trying something new with his razor. But whatever style you use, be sure to keep it well-maintained and groomed — and you’ll always be quick to impress onlookers with your charming style. And if you want to take it a step further, don’t hesitate to check out our guides to beard styles and goatee styles. Keep it classy, gentlemen.