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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
I don't usually write about fashion (mostly because I don't care about fashion), but I've already posted a piece about the skull-and-bones trend, so I thought I'd follow it up with a piece about another recent trend I've noticed: the return of the mustache.

Maybe it's a Vancouver thing, maybe not. I haven't been cross-checking the emergence of the trend with any other city. Either way, though, the mustache looks like it's back from a long hiatus.

But why did the 'stache suffer for so long in the annals of uncool? My hunch is this:
Yes. I blame Tom Selleck's Magnum P.I. for single-handedly killing the mustache. And if we take the last season of the show in 1988 as our indicator, it's taken about two decades for the mustache to become fashionable again (I also have a hunch that Tom Green killed the goatee, but we hardly need a good reason to do away with goatees).

I suppose Hitler and Stalin didn't help mustaches either, but that was a long time ago, and mustaches survived long after they did (well, not the Hitler-stache. If that makes a comeback then I'll be surprised).

There's even a website,, where you can contrast and compare ("battle") mustaches, rate them, and view galleries of celebrity staches and other winning facial hair.

Besides Tom Selleck (though I take him as my main mustache guy: he was the peak, and the begining of the end for the stache), there were others who made modern mustaches popular, at least throughout the 70s and 80s: Burt Reynolds, Freddie Mercury, Eddie Murphy, Cheech Marin, and adult-film star Ron Jeremy, pictured here:

Which brings me to my next point: porno.

People often refer to a regular mustache simply as a "porn mustache". So could this be an ironic element in the new trend? Do we think the staches look good, or are they just kitsch?

This question goes to flashy, retro fashion in general: Do we think, say, 1980s fashion looks good, or are we being ironic when we wear it now? You know those ugly, glittery sweaters with the airbrushed designs of, for example, huskies or a forest? Isn't wearing that stuff almost certainly an ironic gesture? Or how about loud, fluorescent 80s gear? Does this style now "look good" again, or is its very ugliness (and the implied, "How did anyone ever actually think that looked good?") the whole, ironic point?

How post-modern can you get, anyway?: Not wearing retro because it looks good, but because it doesn't look good...which is what makes it look good!

But why the mustache comeback? Just part of the fashion cycle, or something more? When it comes to fashion I don't really think there's much of a "something more". Trends come and go fairly arbirtrarily, with only the buffer-cycle of cool-uncool-retro/cool again to get in the way.

And so maybe the stache is back simply because it hasn't been in for a while. Check out Jason Schwatzman in The Darjeeling Limited,
Jason Lee in My Name is Earl,
and Brad Pitt and his classic Clark Gable look.

Did these celebrities start the trend, or merely pick up on it? Maybe a bit of both: trends starts small and then get picked and perpetuated by a group of savvy, forward-thinking promoters in TV, film and magazines. Then it becomes uncool again and the cycle begins anew. The idea that promoters tell us what's cool and that we follow suit is only half true: there's a bottom-up aspect to trends, too: "cool-hunters" working for corporations look for what the kids are wearing and then over-promote them, and then they have to start all over.

So it's sort of a chicken-egg question: Who starts the trend? The celebrities and iconography-factory of Hollywood, or the "truly original", independent kids on the street? Or is it a more symbiotic relationship, with the kids being sold what they already knew was cool, thereby making it no longer cool, and so an even newer cool is born (which will soon be made trendy and then uncool again...the circle of life).

I'm not sure what my point is here. I've just been thinking about mustaches, that's all. What do you all think?

Matt Hogan is an SFU student taking humanities, "dialogue" (don't ask), and religious studies. He writes fiction, quasi-poetry, and will teach one day. He will also make fun of his students for following silly trends (like mustaches), but he'll be nice about it.



I've often thought about this topic as well. Usually during a long, drawn out and often frustrating discussions with (now) ex-boyfriends and their friends.

Mustache's are not attractive in my opinion. And the men I've known who grew them were not cultivating them for attractiveness value. It was the "hilarity" value. These same guys are the guys who only grow them when they're in already in a relationship with a poor, defenseless, helpless fair maiden, (such as myself) because they've already got the girl. No need to keep up with the up keep.

This is quickly becoming a rant on my part.

In short: I only know two people who seriously have a mustache because they like it and wear it well. Everyone else is annoying.

PS: I'd love a discussion on the beard phenomenon.



Replying to identitykrysis:
Well said, "identitykrysis", if that is you real name, which I know it isn't...

I have a beard because it means less shaving. Even when I had a god-awful, long, grown out patch of chin hair it was because the rest of my just-barely-post-pubescent face didn't grow in as fast, and so keeping the chin hair minized my overall shaving. Nothing to do with style (it wasn't stylish, anyway), it was all about the laziness, which touches on what you said, "identitykrysis".



When I was a child, because of their mustaches, I thought that Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds were the same person and I kept thinking that for a very long time. So to me, I think both of them were iconic of the mustache in the 80s because they were both the same person.

If you want to see the true revival of mustaches in Vancouver, just go to Zulu records on Broadway. It's seen as a style for those "indie"-music listeners to have the mustache right now.



I forgot to write in my little bio-info at the end of the article, which I promised to do in my , and which I thought people might have pointed to me. Guess not. Anyway, a bio-blurb has been added...not that anyone cares, I assume.

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