The Rise of the Dandy Widman
Remember lumbersexuals? The new male subcategory we were told was going to depose metrosexuals two years ago and usher in a new era of modern male macho-ness? If you're struggling to picture it, just imagine a classic hipster barbershop guy, with his epicly long beard; short back and sides haircut; and thick plaid wool shirt under an even thicker plaid wool shirt.
Well good news (especially if you've never heard of him and just hate the idea of hipster barbershop guys), the lumbersexual is no more. Men are now opting for a new look that's still partly rugged, but also part modern dandy. Clearly you can only be confused for an old-timey strong man so many times before you pack your beard oil up in your waxed canvas heritage backpack and go in search of something new.
Yes, they still have a beard, but they're not the same urbanite outdoorsman we were being warned about 18 months ago. This dandy wildman, let’s call him, has a different breed of masculine swagger altogether.
So where does the phenomenon come from? Ewan McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal most likely adopted it when they decided to grow what's known in the biz as “in-between-projects beards”; the beards actors grow when they’re not filming a movie and therefore not contractually obliged to cut their hair or shave in a certain way. It was the reason Stephen Colbert briefly introduced the world to ‘The Colbeard’—a perfect silver beard that matched his reputation as comedy's Gandalf—when The Colbert Report ended at the end of last year and he had some time to kill. (R.I.P. Colbeard, by the way. Gone, but not forgotten.) By contrast, however, Game of Thrones' Kit Harington and Michiel Huisman have the opposite impetus: strict TV contracts that say their characters can't shave or cut their hair under any circumstances whatsoever.
Whether it's by choice or not, the dandy wildman is clearly here to stay. Or at least while Game of Thrones is still on the air. Here's what you can do if you want to try it for yourself but don’t have the benefit of six months off or, unlike Jon Snow and Rick Grimes, aren't being chased by the undead.
TRIM DOWN YOUR BIG-ASS BEARD
“It’s not this wild man from Borneo look,” says Losi, founding stylist at New York men’s salon Martial Vivot, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s hair stylist for many years. “It still needs it shape, but just trim it down once a week and get rid of the scraggles.”
“I had the big beard thing myself, but I got rid of it,” says Mike Sposito, head barber at Fellow Barber, which has locations in New York, San Francisco and Detroit. “There are just too many beards now. I’m still never clean shaven, but now I just have facial hair which I buzz once a week.”
SAY GOODBYE TO THE DON DRAPER HAIRCUT
According to Sposito, he’s seen a steady decline in clients asking for the short back and sides in recent months. “It’s the counterpoint to Mad Men and everything being so clean,” he says. “It’s what we’re calling the midlength trend. It’s contained and has the shape, but guys don’t want to comb their hair any more. The subtle imperfection makes it more masculine.”
“What men nowadays is versatility,” continues Losi. “They want to go to work during the week and relax during the weekend, but if you’re hair isn’t long enough it just turns into a mushroom. With this you can do what you want.”
GET READY TO LOOK AWKWARD FOR A BIT
Once you’ve committed to growing your hair out, the difficult in-between stage is going to be the hardest. But there are some tricks you can try to make it less painless.
“What I would do is give them a low fade,” says Sposito. “If you have a high and tight above the temple, a low fade is sideburns just above the ear so you start growing out from the ears down.
The same goes for the beard, which, although short, can still change the shape of your face depending on how it grows.
“I might keep the weight and fade it on the sides,” says Sposito. “It stops your face from looking too round.”
THROW AWAY YOUR POMADE
“Guys want texture now, and you can’t get that with super heavy pomade,” says Sposito. “I’d recommend using styling cream and a texture paste. The styling cream gives it enough shine to highlight the texture, and the paste gives you the structure you want. Especially if you have thicker hair.”
Losi agrees combining two products instead of using a heavy pomade is the way to go.
“Get a mixture of styling cream and gel. Comb it through then put your fingers through it. You comb it through because you want it to go from the scalp to the end, and then you run your fingers through it because you want to avoid looking like Gordon Gekko or Rudolph Valentino, that’s too slicked back.”
Essentially, not this. Never do this.