A custom-made suit will always fit better than anything off the rack. The same applies to your facial hair: You look better when your whiskers are groomed to fit your face shape. But, like a well-made ready-to-wear suit that looks pretty decent on most men, is there one facial hairstyle that brings out the best in almost every guy who wears it? To find out, we asked barbers across the country. Perhaps proving that there isn’t one universally flattering facial hair style, their responses were as diverse as their hometowns.
NORTHEAST: The Groomed Five O’clock Shadow
“Each man has his own style, and facial hair is a way to express that. Men grow facial hair differently too -- some is coarser than others, some is finer. Some faces are more pronounced than others, creating shadows and spots that may not look great with a beard. But if I had to choose, I’d say the groomed five o’clock shadow is the safest bet. The style is professional enough for work. Plus, you can have a clean-shaven face in the morning and a shadow by night, creating a different look. As for a beard, goatee or mustache, you might not have enough facial hair growth or the right dimensions to pull it off.”
-- Manuel Vazquez of American Shave Classic Barber in Union, N.J.
MIDWEST: The Full Beard
“The one style that works for most men is a full beard, whether it be scruff or the ‘I just got done hiking the Alps’ look. It looks classy when your beard is groomed, rugged when unkempt. It can really make a man look distinguished and it can sometimes age a baby face. Guys that have patchy beards should keep them short and tidy to give a fuller appearance.”
-- Shawna Carter of State Street Barbers in Chicago, Ill.
WEST: The Style That Squares
“It’s always best to choose a beard style that best fits your face shape. A square face shape is the most ideal and desired shape. For men with square faces, the choices are endless. For those who don’t have a square face, the goal is to choose a beard style that helps to square the face so it gives the illusion that they do. This will be different for every face shape.”
-- Craig the Barber of Gornik & Drucker barbershop in Beverly Hills, Calif.
SOUTHWEST: A Mustache
“After surveying our team of barbers, the vote came back unanimously for the mustache. We all agreed that the mustache (well-groomed, of course) represents a sense of style, confidence, security, strength and distinction. Just consider Clark Gable, Billy Dee Williams, Tom Selleck, Salvador Dali, Burt Reynolds, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin.”
-- Christopher Dickerson, president of Christopher’s Vintage Shave in Sugar Land, Texas
… Or a Goatee
“A well-trimmed, well-managed goatee looks good on every man -- as long as you choose a goatee style that’s a good fit for your face. Some goatees may be fuller, thicker or longer than others, but the key is how it’s kept up. I find that most men take better care of a goatee than a full beard or just a mustache. You can’t grow it and ignore it.”
-- Adrian Armendariz of V’s Barbershop in Houston, Texas
SOUTHEAST: No One Style Works for All
“There’s not one facial hairstyle that looks good on every man, because every man’s facial hair differs. Some hair is coarse and stiff, some is curly, some grows in spotty.
The style that’s the most flattering on an individual is the one that’s contoured to the man’s face; is neat and linear; and compliments the natural flow of the man’s cheekbone, jawline or lip structure.”
-- James B. Kynes Jr., Kings of Atlanta Grooming Lounge & Spa in Atlanta, Ga.