Although many men choose to go smooth-shaven nowadays, there was a time when beards were the norm – indeed, they were the unmistakable mark of manhood. And so, not surprisingly, many famous men throughout history have sported pretty amazing facial hair. In some cases, the beards (or other fanciful works of hair art) were more majestic than the men themselves.
But how do these historical beards stack up against modern standards? Are any of them worth bringing back into fashion?
Let's take a trip through time....
1. Friedrich Nietzsche
The famous German philosopher who wrote such well-known (and still provocative) works as Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil was also the owner of one of the most distinctive – and, shall we say, luxuriant – mustaches in history. In the best-known pictures of Nietzsche, his mustache stands out for its incredible length, covering his entire mouth, and the contrast it makes against his otherwise clean shaven face. To be fair, Nietzsche pulls it off by pairing it with a clean-cut hairstyle and fancy 19th century duds – and because a little craziness is probably forgivable in a great philosopher. But for everyone else: trim. At the very least, keep your long mustache waxed and styled!
2. Charles Darwin
The father of evolution also fathered, in his later days, an avalanche of snowy beard so impressive it could make Santa Claus jealous. This is rather surprising since it seemed Darwin boasted muttonchops for most of his life. In any case, his late-stage beard strikes one as the kind that befits a distinguished older gent; but such long, full beards are not easy for everyone to grow. One way to make the best of your beard, whatever its length, is to brush and oil it regularly – which is something we at Scruffy Jack's happen to know a little bit about. Also, consider investing in a decent beard comb.
3. Che Guevara
Revolutionary Marxist, guerrilla leader, and face of an entire range of counter-cultural novelties, Che Guevara is also notable for having one of the patchiest beards among well-known historical leaders. Men with thinner beards often feel they can't grow out their facial hair, but Che seemed to make it work. The decision, ultimately, is up to you, but generally speaking men with patchier facial hair look better closely trimmed or with stubble. That said, Scruffy Jack is not about beard shaming, and, in this particular instance at least, Che seems to prove that anything is possible, so... if you wanna rock what you've got – maybe you'll start a revolution.
4. Abraham Lincoln
You knew he was going to be on this list. The sixteenth president of the United States was not, let us be honest, the most handsome of men. But if he couldn't have beauty, he certainly had drama. He cultivated a facial hairstyle that is associated with him to this day. Chinstraps of any variety are usually ill-advised, but Lincoln's full chin beard and slight cheek coverage saves the look (in part by filling out and softening his famously craggy features). Still, this take on facial hair is not likely to play well to modern audiences: if you're going to go as far as President Lincoln, go ahead and add the mustache.
And then keep it glossy and well-behaved with a well-formulated beard wax.
All images © Wikimedia Commons
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