Interesting Moustaches – a Tribute to Movember

Posted by // December 5th, 2012 // Fashion 1 Comment »

A moustache has the potential to be an essential accessory for a man cultivating a particular style or look. The word itself comes from the French language but originally derives from the Latin word moustaccium. Shaving has been possible since Neolithic times through the invention of stone razors. This led to the possibility for many types of facial hair to be maintained, with some becoming popular in certain countries and regions. Over time this maintenance has become easier with the introduction of moustache-specific tools such as wax, scissors and combs.

In recent years the moustache has gained further prominence thanks to the introduction the November-long charity event, Movember. Originating in Australia in 2004, it has grown into a global phenomenon that embraces the growing of moustaches to raise money for male-orientated diseases such as prostate and testicular cancer. Since its inception over two million people have participated in the event and in 2011 Movember raised seventy-nine million Great British pounds.

Below we profile some of the most famous types of moustache and well-known figures who sport them.

Toothbrush moustache

Popularised by legendary silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin, the toothbrush moustache had originally developed in America in the late nineteenth century. It contrasted with more flamboyant alternatives from earlier decades and typified the growing uniformity of industrialised society. Chaplin’s moustache made its first appearance in one of his earliest films, ‘Mabel’s Strange Predicament’ in 1914. Chaplin decided to add the facial hair to add age to his twenty-four year old appearance without hiding his expressions. It was also used to great effect in his later movie ‘The Great Dictator’ which saw Chaplin parodying Adolf Hitler (who had the same moustache) and the right-wing nationalism developing across Europe. Another iconic figure from the silent movie period who sported a toothbrush moustache was Oliver Hardy, who formed half of the Laurel and Hardy double act. Together the pair featured in over one hundred short movies.

Handlebar moustache

The handlebar moustache features an upward curve at the ends and resembles the handlebars of a bicycle, hence its name. It normally requires the addition of a product such as wax to achieve the curl and has been popular with military and political figures throughout history. Famous figures who have worn the handlebar moustache include American president Theodore Roosevelt, German Kaiser Wilhelm II, Franz Ferdinand (whose assassination led to the start of the Great War) and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. It has also been used on fictional characters such as the Monopoly mascot and the face of Pringles.

Pencil moustache

Despite being traditionally associated with petty criminals, the pencil moustache developed a reputation for sophistication in the mid-twentieth century with actors and entertainers including Errol Flynn, David Niven and Sammy Davis Junior following the look. These celebrities transformed the pencil moustache into something more suave and respectable. The moustache itself is a thin line adjacent or slightly above the upper lip, neatly trimmed to look like it was drawn on with a pencil. A slight variant has a space across the philtrum, splitting the line in two. Modern men recognised for their pencil moustache are John Waters and Prince.

We have excluded a number of famous moustache styles (horseshoe, Fu Manchu, walrus and so on) as this is a potentially endless discussion topic. Feel free to discuss your favourite moustache and moustache wearer below.

One Response

  1. Barry

     (post author)   says:

    I was wondering if you would include Adolf but I see you went with the Charlie Chaplin angle instead. My favourite is the handlebar but I think the Archduke Franz models it better Perhaps you can make him famous for something other than his death?

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