Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Train your mustache in the way it should go...the art of 19th century manliness

After the failure of many revolutions in Europe in the 1840s, facial hair lost its association with radicalism and by the late 1850s, became a symbol for masculinity, dignity and power.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME; Original image: Alexander Gardner—Library of Congress
Several influential leaders with beards, from left to right, Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884), the head of the Union Intelligence Services, President Abraham Lincoln, and Major General John A. McClernand (1812–1900).

During the Victorian age, a mustache was an essential accessory.

Perhaps influenced by the tradition from Europe where manservants were required to be clean-shaven, ornate beards and mustaches were worn by officers of the day.

More elaborate styles complemented rank and age. Lesser ranks wore much simpler shapes.

General Ambrose Burnside, Civil War veteran and Rhode Island senator, is remembered for his facial hair to this day. The original 'sideburns' were called burnsides. 

Despite their differences, as tensions in the 1860s reached a boiling point, men shared in a flair for hair.

To me, there's no better example of stylish hair than General George Custer. Could it be one of the reasons he was the most photographed General during the Civil War? Pictured on the left with his men during the war in 1862. 

And alongside a Confederate prisoner Lieutenant James B. Washingon, who was one of his classmates at U.S. Military Academy, West Point before the war broke out.

The Handlebar Mustache

While the full beard lost popularity, mustaches became widely adopted by civilian men in the 1880s and 90s. Young men began wearing the style to look more mature, fashionable and inspire confidence while giving what was perceived as a "dashing" air.

Wild West icons pictured above sporting the handlebar mustache are the ever-stylish Doc Holliday, Sheriff Wyatt Earp, and his brothers. Also pictured below:

Growing and maintaining a handlebar mustache requires patience and no trimming.

One needs as much hair as possible to groom and shape towards the goal of an outward tilt.

Necessary tools include wax and a dedicated comb was and is still used to sweep hair to the right or left.

A bit of inspiration

As I was researching fashion styles for several upcoming projects, I became interested in the popularity of the handlebar mustache. The handsome man pictured to the left was part of my inspiration for a new character. (You'll learn more about him next month🤠)

During the 1880s, a more clean-shaven look came into fashion. The handlebar mustache took the name from handlebars of bicycles and required much effort to keep trim and was the style into shape.  

About Kimberly Grist:
"Kim has enjoyed writing since she was a young girl. However, she began writing her first novel in 2017, "I wear so many hats working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life just stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome." 
Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. 

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  1. With the exception of his weeks in Army basic training, my husband has worn a mustache since the age of 18. He waxes the ends so they stick out straight to the sides. When he was younger, the hairs grew long enough he curled them high on his cheeks.

  2. This is so very interesting, lots of styles of mustaches , I really enjoyed reading it, Thank you for sharing this information.