Category Archives: Bearded

BEARDED: Patrick Grant

Nestled on the high street, Patrick Grant runs bespoke tailoring fixture Norton & Sons on London’s Savile Row. It is a place that may be rich in tradition, but his beard – while never out of control – juxtaposes the occasionally stuffy images that popularly define British heritage mainstays. These out of touch definitions don’t seem to phase Grant – with a “pro-whiskers” stance at both Norton & Sons and his label E. Tautz, the conventional walls of civilized British society appear to have been infiltrated by the most lush beard-os.

Name: Patrick Grant

Occupation: Shopkeeper at Norton & Son’s, Designer at E. Tautz

City: London, UK

How attached are you to your beard? If you were to shave it off tomorrow, would you feel any sense of regret?

It feels very much a part of me, and strangely a part of our brand. We take a very pro whiskers stance at both Norton & Sons and E. Tautz.

How long have you been growing/maintaining your beard and what motivated you to start?

This is my second long-term beard. This one is about five years old and motivated originally by a feeling that shaving everyday was really something of a waste of time and money. This is a beard of idleness.

How does fashion influence your style choices? Does it? Do beards look good with any ensemble?

I think a beard looks best with a decent sized collar, turned up, or at the very least a collared shirt. Most look pretty bad with t-shirts, unless they are really short and then they’re not really beards at all.  I think it is worth having a think about the colour of your beard and the cloth choices you make; I rather like the idea of matching my suit to my beard, but I’ve never seriously tried it. I think this would work brilliantly for gingers.

As a member of Savile Row, do you feel you need to keep your beard tidy and conservative, or do you ever let it grow a bit more unkempt? Which do you prefer?

Winters, I let it go a bit as it gets chilly on the bicycle, and in the summer it’s cropped a little closer, partly because it can get a trifle warm, and partly because a change is as good as a rest. I am savagely anti beard shaping – it has to grow where it grows, but I am more than happy within these parameters, to give it a little tidy. One should never let the thing get entirely out of hand.

How would you classify your style?

Man in the grey flannel suit.

Is there any item in your wardrobe that you could never part with?

It changes with the seasons, but right now you’d find it hard to separate me from my Tautz greatcoat.

In recent seasons, we have seen Vivienne Westwood, Walter Von Beirendonck and Yohji Yamamoto (to name a few) use unconventional bearded models on the runway. How do you view this “anti-fashion” approach to model selection? Is it merely a gimmick or a message – if it is a message, is it one that showcases fashion as inclusive and accessible, rather than exclusive and rarified?

I would hate to second guess what’s in Dame Vivienne’s head, but I am sure Andreas’ beardiness makes her one of the most entitled beard lovers. I don’t think beards are ever pro or anti fashion, they’re a question of personal style.

What advice do you have for readers who may be interested in achieving a beard like yours?

Stop shaving and hope for the best. If the beard doesn’t work you could always try a moustache.

photos supplied by Patrick Grant, video by Put This On

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BEARDED: David Kurt Karl Roth

David Roth knows his beard for what it is – a trend. He likes bushy bearded fellas, so naturally he likes it on himself, but make no mistake, it is a moment for David (and frankly, with a beard like his, it is so – so – okay).  You may spot David and think, is this man homeless (his words), but the wild beard is something that I hold near and dear to my heart – the conventions of what make a beard great change so often, that sometimes it is best to let nature run its course. Whether a beard is tucked under a nailed hat, or nailed to a cross, David sees no limitation for what his – or any – facial hair can achieve – it can be anything from a look, to a movement in fashion, and at the end of the day, the mantra of this hirsute dandy is “let it grow.”

Name: David Kurt Karl Roth

Occupation: Blogger at Dandy Diary; Editor BerlinFashion.TV

City: Berlin

Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you a guy who has always had a beard, or isyour growth a response to a trend?

To be honest, I think my beard is a response to a trend. Some people believe in weird stuff like religion, or whatever. I believe in fashion trends, and of course in big beards. I love boys with beards.

Do you keep it neat and clean, or is a little unkempt more your style?

I love the way Dash Snow used to sport his beard – unkempt, wild and cool.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like toframe it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

For some looks my beard is really important. For example, my “homeless“ look – It´s a rough look, so a fresh shaved face wouldn’t work. But on the other hand, a slim-fitted suit with unkempt big beard would look great too. (For David, the beard’s limitation is all in your head – contrast is in itself fashion).

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would youa ‘stache?

I tried to sport a mustache, but it didn’t work. I realized very quickly that I should stick with the beard.

How would you classify your style?

Flexible. On some days I look homeless, but I transition to a “business man” look on occasion.

What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runwaysof Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?

Definetly. Why not? I mean, there are a lot of models out there that look great with a big beard. (Succinct. And I couldn’t agree more)

Name one item of clothing you will never part with and describe a head to toe look you feel most comfortable in

I hate surfer/board shorts, but I feel totally comfortable in a skin-tight Speedo. My head to toe outfit would be: an earring ( golden ring, of course), Moscot Miltzen sunglasses, my beard and my Speedo.

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours(i.e. shaving products you use, trimming tips, or just some sage-like wisdom)?

Let it grow, let it grow.

Photos supplied by David Kurt Karl Roth

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BEARDED: Christophe Brumby

You might think that the head of marketing for American heritage company Penfield would dress in the brand from head-to-toe. And you might be right sometimes, but in a perpetual state of style ennui, Christophe Brumby revamps his wardrobe like the wind. Amidst his revolving (and evolving) fashion cycles, the one thing you can count on is his thick and neat beard, a feature that he says requires little to no maintenance (I should be so lucky). Having his roots deep in France, he walks the streets of London, appreciating the sights, sounds and smells – but he’ll joke and say, “I am French, therefore I hate.” But whether he is in the US, Paris or London, Christophe owns the full fledged beard and he pairs it with some contemporary twists and versatile classicism. I’m not French, therefore I love Christophe for BEARDED – Penfield perfect.

Name: Christophe Brumby

Occupation: Head of Marketing & PR at Penfield

City: London, UK

Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you a guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?

I would say I am more of a grower as I have pretty much always had a beard or at least kept stubble, except for work reasons on a few occasions (working in retail or for global corporate firms).

Do you keep it neat and clean or is a little more unkempt your style?

I must say I am quite lucky, as I have got a good natural beard, neat and thick, so I don’t really need to look after it, I only give it the odd trim on the cheeks every now and then.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

I guess it is somehow part of my general ‘look’ and generally complements my outfit, but I definitely wouldn’t say it influences the way I dress everyday.

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?

It probably can suit everyone; there are so many kind of facial hair… One just needs to experiment and find what suits one’s face, traits and general style. I have tried to sport a moustache a couple of times in the past but to be honest it turned out to be pretty disastrous! Haha. I just tried for fun and only kept it for a few days after shaving my full beard – I have never grown a proper ‘stache though.

How would you classify your style?

Hmm… Tricky question. I am constantly drawing inspiration from different sources (the streets of the city I live in at a given time, my friends, magazines, random things I see everyday etc.) and have always loved mixing influences, so a safe answer would be classic and versatile with a twist of contemporary. I am probably still trying to define my style and always will be, as I get bored quite quickly and need to change pretty much every other day.

What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way? Why do you think a lot of contemporary menswear brands are focusing on the bearded model in look books over the past few seasons?

I think it is a sign that menswear – and high fashion is no exception – has yet again taken a new direction over the last couple of years. It seems like men in general are looking for a more rugged, more authentic and overall a more manly style as of late. Some commentators like to think that this was caused by the recession, with people looking for more durable, reliable and timeless clothing during hard times – a kind of back-to-basics instinct. I would probably see it more as a new fashion cycle, as everyone was getting bored with the metrosexual trend of the mid 2000’s. “Rough is the new metrosexual” as some bloggers quoted.

Name one item of clothing you will never part with and describe a head to toe look you feel most comfortable in

This is in fact an accessory, but I would definitely say my watch. It is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night – I would never go out without it. As for an everyday head-to-toe look, with winter right around the corner, I would go for a simple plain oxford shirt under a wool cardigan, a pair of dark denim jeans, a good pair of boots and obviously a warm down jacket or vest for the colder months.

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours (i.e. shaving products you use, trimming tips, or just some sage-like wisdom)?

Keep it raw, keep it real!

Assorted images provided by Christophe Brumby

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CONTEST: Panasonic ES-8249 Pro-Curve

Panasonic has asked me to review one of  their holiday favourites, the Panasonic ES-8249 Pro-Curve® ARC IVNano Blade Shaver. And as a thank you for reading and sticking through my formative blogging years, I am going to share the gift of the shave with you! One lucky winner will receive a brand new ES-8249 (valued at $299.99 CDN). Details to follow the review!

Technology

What I enjoyed most about Panasonic’s shaver was the LCD screen built in to detect energy used – with the handy loading dock (it CLEANS and CHARGES), you’ll find it nearly impossible to forget to maintain your razor. The nano technology ensures a close shave and paired with a pivoting head and ergonomic design, it curves to the contours of your chin, no matter how boney or shapely. This is really important and most men can attest to the need for a comfortable, carefree shave. I swiveled the head back and forth fairly swiftly and I encountered no nicks, snags or bleed-outs. It also shaves wet and dry, which makes it very practical for a new all-in-one shave tool.

In addition to these features, the ProCurve has a concealed one-level trimmer that retracts for those easy clean-ups where bare necks and cheeks (or other) are of the utmost necessity. Emphasis on easy clean-ups. Please.

For the burliest of beards

I have been growing out my beard for well over a month, in hopes that I can sustain mountain-like growth. For those desiring to maintain a woodsy beard, the Panasonic ES-8249 does possess a setback: it is not a conventional trimmer. Fortunately, this is easily overcome. The ProCurve technology is handy for cleaning up short stubble growth and slightly more dense short hair, but for bushy, Zach Galifinakis-like beards, you will need to add a shear step to your process. Hold lengthy hair in between your middle and index fingers (picture the way your barber snips your hair) and trim 3/4 of the length with scissors – this will aid in a comfortable close-shave. Unfortunately, skipping this process will result in a lackluster, “is-this-doing-anything” moment, but the ProCurve can be the shaver for you if you add some care to your approach.

Experience

My motivations for this review were simple: picture every man’s goals and not just my own ambitions for the super beard. Since MOVEMBER is now in its third week, the ProCurve would make an excellent shaver for tidyng up the neck and chin. For others, a 5 o clock shadow is achieved with relative ease, as short growth can be cruised over without worry. And for those fellas like me, or for men who just want to keep the beard they’ve worked so hard to grow, the ES-8249 will clean up your neck and cheeks to bring structure to your face-shaping fuzz without worrying about mucking up your face with clunky shaving cream. It is self cleaning and lubricated too, so all you really have to do is push a button. Not many razors can make such claims.

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the bare skin of a neck contrasting the fullness of a beard. Clearly this is important to me and it is this outcome that warrants a dorky dimpled smile and wide-eyed expression. Before reviewing a shaving product, I feel it is important to develop a worst case scenario. Since I was growing my beard out anyway, I decided to leave areas messy that would otherwise be cleaned up on a semi-regular basis. This “planning” ensured that any problems could be easily detected.

Conclusion

Although some of the  great features of the ES-8249 go underused for a beard like mine, the benefits of a close neck shave, a reminder to charge the unit, a cleaning dock and a subtle hum (it really doesn’t sound like a tractor – moreso a gentle buzz) all make up for those not-so-missed moments of a baby face. Since not every man is looking to sport the backwoods look this winter, it really is a great gift for most men who just want to look clean, fresh and ready to start the day.

If I had a rating system, I’d give it 3.8/5 beards, 4.5 /5 mustaches and 5/5 baby faces.

Since the prize is quite substantial, I’d like to make this somewhat creative. To be entered into the Dressed for Dinner x Panasonic contest, you’ll need to do the following:

1. Submit a photo, illustration or video that showcases your shave process to kevinjnaulls@gmail.com – if you don’t shave and feel like it’d make a great gift, draw, photograph or record someone you know pulling off the perfect shave.

2. Follow @kevinjn on Twitter to be updated on submissions – there will be a post on November 30th where readers will vote for the best.

3. Be creative! Stand out to win big!

A winner will be selected on December 6, 2010 at 6:00 pm EST

Rules subject to change (not likely) and readers will be notified.

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BEARDED: Adam Humphreys

Adam Humphreys channels his own life experiences to create film, but labeling a movie as a “documentary” comes with a laundry list of conventions. It is his personal style that escapes any typical fashion rules or trends, satisfying his own personal human need for comfort. Humphreys has what I like to call a beard in transition, or one that never looks the same twice (notice the unkempt and smattered growth), and despite describing himself as a “gentrified hipster,” note that there is no statement to be made from his facial fuzz – he’ll skip the irony because his beard – although in a turnstile-like state of coming and going – always returns (est. 2006).  I liken Adam to the biology student who wears a bucket hat with lycra pants and a utilitarian vest or the retired professor who ditches his expected suede patches for a cotton crew neck sweater and pair of Levi’s. In his dream-like world of film, there is no escaping certain cinematic formulas, but in fashion – or in this case, his fashion – there are no rules. Just Adam.

Name: Adam Humphreys

Occupation: Tree Planter and Filmmaker (check out his documentary, ‘Franz Otto: Ultimate Highballer’)

City: Brooklyn, NYC

Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you a guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?

I’ve had a beard around 40% of the time between 2006 to present. I’ve shaved completely around 20 times during this period. I use a trimmer once every couple of weeks so it comes and goes. I don’t think my beard is a response to a trend; if something seems trendy I think I feel a small desire to do it’s opposite.

Do you keep it neat and clean, or is a little unkempt more your style?

Unkempt.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

I notice I feel better wearing different types of clothes when my hair or facial hair is at different lengths. I think when my beard is smaller and my hair is shorter I want to wear less conventional outfits. I don’t consider my beard a statement.

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?

Maybe people who have limited capacity to grow facial hair look better with facial hair. People with too much hair just look too wild with beards, to me – like when it comes up to their eyes and just descends into their chest hair.
I don’t think I would have a moustache. I just wouldn’t want to have conversations about it, and it seems like if I did have a moustache I would have to talk about it with people, at least for the first little while.

How would you classify your style?

Gentrified hipster mixed with PNW school teacher who canoes on the weekend.

What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?

It doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t excite me either.

Name one item of clothing you will never part with and describe a head to toe look you feel most comfortable in

Black Rad Pants by Mountain Equipment Co-op with the cuff at the ankle. They’ve redesigned them and the new ones are like gore tex trousers (awful). These are my favorite pants for planting, but I also wear them in New York.

My favorite outfit currently is black wool trousers with a mediocre looking ‘office shirt’ thing from LL Bean, a blue shirt jacket from Rag and Bone, a baseball hat and timberland loafers.

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours (i.e. shaving products you use, trimming tips, or just some sage-like wisdom)?

Follow me on twitter.


photos by Jonathan Owen Black

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BEARDED: At Michael Bastian x GANT

Meet Francis Brunelle, a soon-to-be BEARDED feature that I met at last night’s Michael Bastian x Gant preview in Toronto. Francis says he’s growing his beard in thick, but what struck me most was how he paired his denim shirt with a blazer/pocket square. Denim-on-denim is a personal favourite of mine, but Francis keeps it fresh with a formalist topper. Without sharing too much (I have to save some of the goods for BEARDED), Francis works as a Sales Manager at the Bloor St Harry Rosen, which no doubt influences his day-to-day style.

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BEARDED: Nick Sewalish

Nick Sewalish may be an international man of business, but his style doesn’t reflect any hint of Gordon Gekko. You won’t find ill-fitting suits or french cuffed shirts with gaudy cuff links in his wardrobe, because Nick – like the looming women’s wear trend of “new restraint” (thanks Phoebe) – opts for minimal, well-curated separates. In his no-red-ever state of mind, Nick tackles the blacks, blues and greys with unobstructed flare – there is no need for studs or spikes, boy-heels or sparkle of any kind. Sewalish keeps it simple and his method for modesty can be seen in everything he wears.

Name: Nick Sewalish

Occupation: International Finance Guy for the Gap

City: Currently London, but usually New York

Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you the type of guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I grew a beard by accident (AKA laziness) when I moved to San Francisco after college. I thought it suited me so I kept it, and I haven’t been bare-faced since. Serendipitously, it also happened to be right around the time when a lot of guys my age were rediscovering the joy of their beards. I can’t imagine not having a beard now. Believe it or not, I’ve actually had bad dreams in the past year about having to shave my beard.

Do you keep it neat and clean, or is a little unkempt more your style?

Usually I keep it a little unkempt and rugged, and I don’t mind letting my neck get a bit scruffy. But once it gets to the point that I’m looking like Paul Bunyan, I’ll trim it up a bit.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

My beard doesn’t play a direct role in what I choose to wear. But I am aware that there are certain items that I can wear to accentuate it – like a plain v-neck tee in the summertime or a simple white buttondown out to dinner.

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?

That’s a loaded question, I don’t want to offend anyone! Before answering, I have to admit, I do silently thank my father everytime I’m trimming my beard for passing on his facial hair genes to me (my younger brother wasn’t so lucky). But to answer the question – I think that if a man has the ability to grow a full beard, it will usually suit him, but it might not necessarily be his best look or work with his personal style. In my opinion, a man should try out different looks as he’s coming into his own, find what suits him best, and then own it. But, unfairly, there are men in this world that just weren’t born to grow full beards.

How would you classify your style?

I like a clean, simple palette, and relatively basic, classic styles with a modern twist, flattering fit and interesting detailing – and I love a great graphic tee shirt. My favorite designers are probably Jil Sander, Miuccia Prada, Tomas Maier, Christopher Bailey and Helmut Lang. Granted, I can’t usually afford their clothes, so I’m always on the lookout for great, affordable basics. I’ll wear the same things over and over in different combinations. Because of that, I try to stock my wardrobe with fewer things that have a sense of personal luxury and are well made that I’ll be able to wear for years. I really dislike the idea of “fast-fashion”. So, I tend to be very pragmatic with my wardrobe – most of the things I own are purposefully grey, black, and white. Sometimes I’ll add a splash of blue or green or purple for fun. I appreciate dandy styling and patterns and colors on other people, but it’s just too much work for me! And I never wear red – it looks awful on me.

How do you feel about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?

I love it! I think that it’s great to show a diversity of looks on the runway, and every brand needs to use models that help convey their brand image.

Name one item you will never part with from your wardrobe

My black cashmere hoodie.

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours?

If you’ve got it, go for it!!!

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CONTEST: Crown Shaving Co.

I have never held a contest before, but being a BEARDED blogger does come with its share of benefits. Reviewing new thirst-for-beard products is fun for me, but knowing for yourself that a product is right for you is its own reward. No two beards are alike.

Dino from Crown Shaving Co. has thoughtfully provided some items (Shave Cream, Soothing After Shave Lotion and Supreme Glide pre-shave formula) from his range to keep your beard maintained. How do you win? There are a number of ways this can be achieved (hooray):

1. If you are a bearded gent, submit a personal photo that best captures your shaving process. Or, if shaving photos aren’t your bag, submit your best BEARDED style pic to kevinjnaulls@gmail.com.

2. Don’t have a beard, but know someone who might benefit from some natural shaving products? With their permision, submit a photo (kevinjnaulls@gmail.com). Or, the non-photo route: Subscribe to Dressed for Dinner (right hand side of this here blog) and comment with the e-mail you used and the reason you should get your shave on (or why your friend desperately needs a new routine)!

Make sure you follow the rules or your submission will not be accepted. The winner will be chosen by me on September 30, 2010. Plenty of time to snap some pics and make your answers as creative as possible!

Thanks for being a part of my blog. Being party to my beard & fashion union has made this experience much more fun.

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BEARDED: Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur

You might say that Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur pioneered a beard movement that is stronger than ever before. At the age of 12, a young Mark itched for the opportunity to grow facial hair, but it wasn’t until a post-pubescent 18 that everything came together. Mark is a leader and not a follower, but such esteem and notoriety has its setbacks – for example, with a beard 12 inches off the chin, there is no longer a reason to wear a bow tie or foulard. While accessories may be hidden by his beard, there is no missing it on its own. Mark and I talked goatee-to-full beard transitioning and he gave us a peek into his endless wardrobe of unique designer pieces. When someone writes a poem about your beard, you’ve made it (somewhere). With quality and quantity, Mark is quintessential BEARDED style.

Name: Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur (photographed above right with partner AA Bronson)

Occupation: Architect

City: New York City

Are you a grower or a show-er?

LOL – are you talking about my beard? (Editor’s note: yes, albeit in a cheeky way!)

Are you the type of guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?

I was dying to have facial hair ever since I was 12.  I grew my first beard when I was 18 and I’ve never been clean-shaven since (I’m 52 now), so I don’t follow trends.  I do lead them sometimes though – I went from a short beard to a goatee in 1989, a couple years before they became popular.  I could feel they would be coming into fashion.

Then, when I grew my goatee out into a long beard in 1996 I assumed I was leaving fashion behind, but to my surprise, long beards are coming back now.

Do you keep it neat and clean, or is a little unkempt more your style?

Ideally I keep it neat and clean, but when it’s this long (12” / 30 cm off my chin) it’s hard to keep a really precise shape – it blows around in the breeze a lot.  My boyfriend trims the edges once a month so it doesn’t look too ragged, but apart from that it has grown to its maximum length.  When I’m in the city I use moustache wax, but when I’m at the beach on summer weekends I let my stache go natural.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

I love to wear fashionable clothes, and when I had a goatee in the 1990s it went perfectly with what I wore.  I wanted to grow my beard out long, but I hesitated for quite a while because I thought I couldn’t mix high fashion with a big beard – we’re talking head-to-toe Thierry Mugler outfits, for example.  But ultimately I decided I would just become my own category and not worry about the dictates of fashion.  So I still wear interesting, colorful outfits and have a big beard at the same time.  The truth is that a plain black t-shirt sets off my beard best, but I can never bear to wear such a low-key outfit.

The only change I’ve made is to give up wearing bowties.  I used to love wearing them occasionally, but now they’re completely hidden by my beard so it looks like I’m not wearing a tie.  The only one I’ve held on to is an old floppy bowtie from Romeo Gigli – it’s big enough to be seen beneath my beard.  It looks quite Edwardian and romantic.

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?

Almost every man looks better with some form of facial hair – it gives you character and makes you look manly!  If I weren’t fully bearded I wouldn’t have just a moustache, I’d probably have some form of creative facial hair.  I love all the interesting things you see guys do – maybe I’d have friendly mutton-chops (big sideburns connected across a moustache) or something like that.

How would you classify your style?

Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that.  I don’t think I fit into any categories – at this point I’m just me.  I certainly have my preferences in terms of fashion.  I like conceptual and avant-garde designs from people like Martin Margiela (at least when he was designing for his house), Comme de Garçons, Yohji, Miyake and Junya Watanabe (see Watanabe nordic knit jeans below).

I also like sleek and trim tailoring from Ozwald Boateng, Richard James and Thierry Mugler.  These guys are also good for lots of color, and I have a smattering of Emilio Pucci for the same reason.

Suit by Ozwald Boateng, shirt by Richard James

What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?

I think they’re fantastic.  It’s funny – fashion pays lip service to individuality, but the truth is that most fashion is actually very conformist. They mostly aspire to the same ideal; hence all the models look alike.  I love the designers you mention because they promote individuality – on their runways they show that you can actually be your own person and the clothes still work on you.

Name one item you will never part with from your wardrobe

Hmmm… that’s difficult because I have a lot of pieces I really love.  But I’d have to settle on one thing that has the most emotional meaning for me.

A friend of mine, Frédéric Sanchez, does music for fashion shows (Prada, Miu Miu, Vuitton, Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and many others).  He also did the music for Margiela for many years, right from the beginning, so he knows all the people there.  And do you know Margiela’s painted jeans (Only one of the most brilliant fashion ideas in the last 15 years)?  I have the white-painted jeans and jean jacket, which I adore.  He did different colors of paint over the years, and for one season he did silver, but only for women.  I was dying to have silver ones – it’s probably my favorite color.

One day Frédéric was visiting us in New York, and offered to get a pair of jeans ‘Margielized’ for me – he said they used to do that for him all the time – he’d bring them a sweater and they’d paint it, for instance.  I jumped up and stripped off the jeans I was wearing (Levi 501s) and gave them to Fred.  As it turned out, 6 weeks later I was in Paris and my silver jeans were ready.  At this point, most of Margiela’s production was in Italy, but he told me they did them specially at their Paris headquarters in order to have them done in time.  It was one of the most thrilling fashion things that’s ever happened to me.  I love telling people “Oh, these jeans were custom-made for me in Paris by Margiela”.

It’s the closest I’ll ever get to couture.

Note: These jeans have been featured in Bill Cunningham’s ‘On The Street’ in the NY Times (check out the hand-painted Issey Miyake shoes from Tokyo!)

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours?

On the physical level it couldn’t be easier – simply stop shaving!  And be patient and give your beard a chance to grow and fill out properly.  When I first grew my beard long, it went through different phases and shapes.  For a while it would look awkward and curl in strange ways, then it would grow into a new shape and look good.  Find out what your beard’s character is – make the best of what you’ve got, and don’t try to be something you’re not.  In my case, I’d love to have a sweeping handlebar moustache, but it ain’t gonna happen.  I tried forcing it into that shape with lots of moustache wax but it wouldn’t hold in place, and I was always anxious that it was going off and doing its own thing.  So I finally settled on what it wants to do, which is ‘wavy handlebars’.  It’s not the usual, but it’s the real me!

Unfortunately there’s a lot of fear and social pressure that stops men from growing their beards out.  It can be a real problem if your partner doesn’t like beards, although one benefit you can use to persuade them is that a long beard feels so soft compared to stubble, which is very prickly.  For better or worse, you’ll really stand out with a big beard.  Some people hate it and others love it – hardly anyone is lukewarm about them.  You’ll get some ignorant comments asking ‘why do you grow your beard?’  A good response is that it’s natural for a man to have a beard, so they’re the ones who have to make a defense for shaving.

In closing, a friend of mine was inspired to write a poem about my beard – here it is:

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BEARDED: John Webster

John Webster chooses sequins over the “new restraint,” admitting caution when it comes to the length of his beard (in fear of looking like a non-union Dr. Vink – my reference, not his). Where most see aging as the last nail in the coffin, Webster sees grace and humor in style icons of the past (both iconoclast and icon-to-him). Much like his beard, he has grown out of his “they-used-to-call-me-anal-girl” roots, sporting a post-Van Dyke fullness he likes with a mixture of patterns and textures that emphasize his distinguished salt and pepper.

Name: John Webster

Occupation: Artist/ Illustrator/ Sissydude

City: Toronto, Canada

Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you a guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?

Well, I’ve played with beardidge on & off for like 15 years. I’m a lazy shaver so some sort of facial hair always exists. A full on beard without much grooming is my new love (after a good solid 4 months of sporting a dandyish Van Dyke) … and I’ve got major grey going on now… workin’ the silver daddy.

Do you keep your beard neat and clean or is a little unkempt more your style?

In the past when sporting a “fullish” beard, I’d always been a tad too neatly groomed… and I started looking like Alexander Julian or some anal kid’s TV show host (not very sexy). Unkempt with a little trimming now & again is way better… and with a receding hairline & lots of grey, too unkempt can become “crazy old guy”.

Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?

Definitely! Clothes work so much better on me with a beard… I tend to wear mixes of patterns and colors… vintage pieces mixed with new stuff. Not to distract from the beard but to enhance it.  And I LOVE wearing ties… suit jackets… and sneakers. I wished I loved good leather shoes but I sadly prefer a sneaker (I walk a lot). When I don’t sport a beard I look at least 10 years younger.

A graying beard feels like a true acceptance of aging.  I’m also very inspired by writer Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)… his dapper suit with hat & beard was really quite smashing. As I get older, I look to stylish old folks of the past to see how to do aging amusingly, if not gracefully… ish.

Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?

I’ve done the ‘stache! I just can’t pull it off… at all. A handlebar emphasizes my weak chin and a porn ‘stache… I think that can really be hot, funny & ironic on cute young boys or old Greek daddies. Men with darker skin tones can really work a ‘stache. I wear lots of flowery prints… with a mustache I just look funny… not good funny. I think everyone looks good with a beard.

How would you classify your style?

I’m a pretty eclectic/ classic dresser. I wear very plain classic shaped clothes. I’m 6 foot 7 inches tall, so I’ll do something I think is subtle but it can come across as way too showy to mere mortals. Like bright magenta knee socks & tight above the thigh gray shorts… or my black cashmere cape with a velvet collar… I’m like a Sunday school Vincent Price!

What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?

There are so VERY many sexy bearded models out there… the beard will of course come in  & out of fashion again & again. But it is all over the place lately. I think it’s great. On my tumblr blog, Sissydude (NSFW), I frequently post (& repost) hot men of all ages sporting their beards, hairy backs, shoulders, crotches & bums. And its really grabbed hold of the artsy queers. I think it’s a rebellion to all the shaved perfect gym bodies that the fashion industry and advertisers sadly parade as the only beauty out there. The beard- the natural hairiness of a man- recalls the hippies, the gay men of the 70’s… The Cockettes. It is a very liberating thing, but eating an ice cream cone with one can be a bitch.

Name one item you will never part with from your wardrobe

My original Smiths concert T-Shirt from the 80’s… and my childhood Star Wars T-Shirt too.

Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours?

Keep it a tad unkempt and condition it too… also, I use a dab of Dax Short & Neat Light Hair Dress to keep it (the beard) in line and soft to the touch. Oh, and it’s really fun to yank one’s beard… it’s a real plaything!


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