Although the moustache has been viewed at various times throughout history with suspicion – in early Victorian times the moustache was the trademark of revolutionaries or worse, artists – it nevertheless endured. The adoration in other decades, like the 1970s, was such that a naked lip was an oddity. Seemingly every male over the cusp of puberty craved one.
For any type of moustache to look smart it must be well groomed, and today there is a large arsenal of tools to perform the following:
Trimming- Best done with electric trimmers or slim hairdressing scissors, which are very precise, quick and easy – more so than razors, which require patience and a steady hand, and are best suited to shaving the face at the ends of the mo. Trim carefully in small increments without taking too much off at once – you can always cut more off, but cannot put it back – until you are satisfied with the length. Keeping the hairs just touching the ridge of the top lip is smarter and cleaner looking than draping over the mouth, and it won’t scrape the cinnamon off the froth of your cappuccino.
Trimmers are available as individual and portable units, or as part of a larger set. Sets may include hair clippers and body trimmers for an overall, top to toe smooth and sleek look, perfect for summer at a seaside resort. Think Daniel Craig emerging from the water, not Borat!
Waxing and Styling- In order to keep a long, bushy or unruly soup-strainer disciplined, you cannot go past moustache wax. This is not for the sticky depilation of the upper lip. Instead it is a dressing, varying in strength of hold, which keeps the moustache sitting just right. Wax enables the ends to be tweaked and twirled up in the style of a silent movie villain, or the flamboyant Hercule Poirot. It is also available in different colours and tints for covering grey or inconsistent colour areas. There are many brands of wax available and they are increasing in popularity, along with beard dressings, as more men are becoming more aware of their appearance and the importance of looking dapper and confident.
Finally – Choose which style of moustache best suits your face, as well as the look which you want to achieve. Drooping banditos can tend to make you look either sinister like a character from Easy Rider, if you have a thin face, or, if you have a plumper face, as doleful as a basset hound, so be judicious with this particular style. Large bushy handlebars can look very sporty and suit most face shapes, but if you have a thin, long or gaunt mug, do not let this style get out of control or too long, lest you end up resembling a greyhound with antlers. On a round, plump or wide face, pencils can look lost, a bit like a pair of misdirected eyebrows. In that case they should be a little thicker and wider, which will look very distinguished and elegant. Pencils best suit an average oval or rectangular face – think of Errol Flynn, David Niven and other film noir matinee idols.
A true anecdote: Some years ago as I was languishing here, missing the land of warm beer and stewed tea, I ran out of moustache wax which, at that time, was unavailable in New Zealand. I sent an urgent request to my sister in London to dispatch some to me, pronto. She duly deputised a friend to pick up some from Harrods. According to witnesses, he asked for the product from the assistant who, looking at his white moustache, asked him the tint he required. To which he replied, “Oh, I’m not sure. It is not for me, it is for a lady friend!”. I think the stunned young woman behind the counter dined out on that for some time.