Which Men Look Good with Beards?
I recently decided to try to answer this question.
My interest in the question was sparked when I noticed that some men who appear to have a lot of Romantic or Ethereal -- which are feminine essences -- -- are more attractive with full beards than they are clean-shaven.
This was initially a puzzle to me, because beards, I was thinking, are iconically masculine, and these men are otherwise flattered by feminine details such as soft fabrics and draping. (Kit Harington is gorgeous in a draped scarf.)
But a couple of possible explanations have occurred to me.
Romantic and Ethereal essences require soft edges and a lack of structure. Hair is inherently soft-edged and unstructured, right? A person has to go to a lot of effort to make hair look stiff or sharp.
So perhaps a full beard on a very Romantic man (a man with sexy, voluptuous features) or a very Ethereal man (a man with angelic, otherworldly features) is flattering because the beard adds soft edges and a lack of structure to the face.
I think Benedict Cumberbatch has a lot of Ethereal, and I love him with facial hair.
(Though the right is too scraggly! It's tough to find a pic of him with a full but neat beard.)
Same with Keanu Reeves and Tyson Beckford.
In all of these men, I think the beard, in addition to adding softness, brings out the "wise" quality Ethereals have.
(Keanu has some Dramatic too, I think. More on those guys below.)
But how do we explain men with a lot of Ingenue (a youthful, pretty, girlish beauty) who are flattered by beards? Because that's totally a thing.
Ingenue is a feminine essence, but unlike Romantic and Ethereal it calls for clean edges and a bit of stiffness. So you wouldn't necessarily think a beard would flatter an Ingenue man's face.
Yet I notice a lot of men who seem to be quite Ingenue are improved by beards.
Rainn Wilson (Dwight from from The Office) has a high forehead, a tiny nose, a small mouth, and a tiny chin -- all features that read as girlish. I'm guessing he has a lot of Ingenue. And he's much improved by a beard.
I suspect Eddie Redmayne has a lot of Ingenue as well. (He's so pretty, and see how well he passes for a girl.) And again, look how much better he is with a beard.
Jeffrey Wright is another actor I'd call "pretty" without a beard, and who looks much more handsome bearded:
I think beards do flatter Ingenue men. The question "why?" is one I'm still mulling over.
To my eye, beards on these men bring out quite a bit of manliness that wasn't previously there. They seem to bring these men into balance as men. Without the beards, these men are too Ingenue, IMO.
Is it the case that a beard, despite being iconically masculine, is actually feminizing in its visual effect? ... because it's soft and round-edged? And that adding the feminine element to an Ingenue man emphasizes his masculine qualities by contrast? -- just as adding the masculine elements to Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine women actually make them appear more feminine? (Great example: short hair s. long hair on Winona Ryder.)
I think I'm on to something here.
* * *
Who else is flattered by a beard? Well, our craggy, rough-hewn, approachable Naturals, of course. That shouldn't surprise anyone. They're like the poster guys for beards.
See Jeff Bridges, The Rock, and Will Ferrell, three guys I think have a lot of Natural:
(Though the Rock has perhaps Classic and Dramatic too?)
In the case of Naturals, I think the explanation is obvious: Naturals are good with shagginess. Beards have a shaggy quality. Easy peasy.
(This is analogous to Natural being the only masculine essence that is flattered by round edges instead of sharp corners, and by flow instead of structure.)
So, who isn't great with a full beard?
Well, Gamines, for one -- men whose handsomeness is boyish.
Leonardo DiCaprio has a ton of Gamine (which is why he can wear bow ties even though he's over six feet), and he is definitely more handsome without a beard.
This makes sense -- Gamines need straight lines and sharp corners.
The only facial hair I've seen look appropriate on Gamine-influenced men is controlled and mischievous-looking:
But for a very Gamine man, even a groomed, devilish goatee is too much:
Meh. Baby-faced Leo is just better clean-shaven.
Classics, too, are not at their best with beards. I suspect Jon Hamm has Classic with some Dramatic, and I don't think a beard is an improvement on him.
(He may have some Natural too, but not enough to pull off that beard.)
It makes sense that men with a lot of Classic wouldn't be flattered by beards; Classic beauty derives almost totally from regular, symmetrical features, and a beard would just obscure those perfect features.
Is George Clooney better with a beard? I don't think so, and I suspect the explanation lies in how much Classic he has.
(He has a little Natural, but, again, not enough to work that beard, IMO. And he also has some Gamine, which is contraindicating the beard as well.)
Michael C. Hall is also too regular-featured for facial hair:
Last but not least, let's look at highly Dramatic men -- men with masculine features that are sharp, narrow, and intimidating.
I don't love them with full, uncontrolled beards, but they can be flattered by very controlled and/or imposing facial hair. A beard that's groomed to be very full only around the mouth (like a very full Van Dyke beard) is good for Dramatics. And I keep coming back to highly Dramatic men as the only men who seem able to pull off a full (not thin or fine) solo mustache -- especially when it's turned down at the corners.
What do you notice about the men in your life?
And how do we explain beards for Ingenue men?
Let me know what you think.
6/25/2018 04:49:45 pm
This post is something new to think about. One celebrity male that come to mind is Macaulay Culkin. Even in the photos he looks healthy in, he looks so much better without wearing a beard.
6/25/2018 05:13:40 pm
Loved this post, what a great analysis! You left me mindblown, I'd never beards arefeminizing, but it makes sense
6/25/2018 05:22:15 pm
Very interesting post! I know a lot of us have been discussing which beards look good on which types of men for a while now. Your hypothesis that facial hair actually has a softening effect makes a lot of sense now that I see it on Romantic, Ethereal, and Natural men--especially if you consider that those are the archetypes that look good with lots of hair in the first place. In contrast, Dramatics, Gamins, and Classics look best with a very controlled amount of hair that's mostly off the face, so of course beards would be harder for them. I have a Gamin cousin who went to college and decided he'd grow a beard, and all of his female family members agree it's terrible on him!
6/26/2018 02:47:22 am
KC, I agree with you. I don't think beards are flattering on Ingenue men. And yes, I see Gamine and Ethereal in Eddie Redmayne, not Ingenue. And he looks more feminine with the beard than without it.
6/25/2018 06:31:40 pm
I think it's Natural in Rainn Wilson and Ethereal in Eddie Redmayne that enables them to pull off beards - thoughts? (I agree conceptually that youthful essences would not suit facial hair).
6/25/2018 07:07:29 pm
I'm not sure. The guy I know who I think has a lot of Ingenue looks *much* better without a beard, though that may be my own prejudice because I've known him for a long time. Another man I think is Dramatic Natural looks really good in a reasonably neat beard (he can't pull off a wild beard like he thinks he can, ugh, so a Dramatic style beard us
6/25/2018 07:19:38 pm
[Gah, hit the post button]
6/26/2018 03:04:50 am
Yes! Totally agree!
6/26/2018 03:38:48 pm
This is fascinating! My ex-husband has lots of Natural and looks good. possibly best, with stubble. My son might have Ethereal but I also possibly see Classic, Natural and possibly Gamine. He looks good with very neatly trimmed facial hair, his hair is also long and curly and he wears a bun which really suits him. but his style is quite neat and dapper so I find the combination fascinating. He's a bit like Orlando Bloom with ginger hair. My partner looks best with a very trim goatee style facial hair plus mustache. I think he has Gamine and Natural. He looks more babyfaced without facial hair rather than being too baby-faced to support it. I am wondering if facial hair can be a sort of neutralizer. If the facial lines need softening then facial hair helps but also if they need to be given some structure it helps too.
6/26/2018 11:13:39 pm
What is the consensus on dressing as just one style identity, or overwhelmingly one identity, when you're a mix? Assuming that you have enough of the identity to carry it. Is it authentic to use makeup to enhance and emphasize your features that correspond with that identity in order to dress just as that identity? Or will you always look off if you don't fully honor all of your lines? (Or are nods to your other essences with color and details/fabrics acceptable?)
6/27/2018 01:21:36 pm
What is a man looks good clean shaven AND with facial hair/a beard (example - Marton Csokas)?
6/27/2018 01:41:03 pm
6/27/2018 01:54:11 pm
Rachel, might Dramatic Ingenue be an essence that easily mimics Ethereal? Particularly on a person with lighter coloring.
6/28/2018 02:50:50 am
I don't think that Eddie Redmayne has any Dramatic. I can't see how sharp dramatic lines would flatter his face. The dramatic high collar he is wearing as a villain is totally off on him. And Eddie just doesn't have that characteristic intimidating look of a true Dramatic. I think Eddie has Ethereal and Gamine. Rachel says he has Ingenue, but I disagree.
6/27/2018 04:11:55 pm
I like Cumberbatch in a trimmed beard, as Dr. Strange for example, but he does seem to have a lot of Dramatic as well as Ethereal which may be why he pulls off the intense facial hair? Rainn Wilson's beard brings out his Natural and balances his face IMO, but I don't like Eddie Redmayne in facial hair. I suspect too much Ethereal throws the balance off for him. I have two older teen boys who have experimented with the beard trend (although both are clean shaven as of this moment) and my oldest has some Ethereal to him. He just doesn't rock a beard well, but I do think he looks nice with longer, messy hair. By contrast, his younger brother actually looks quite good with a trimmed beard and short hair -- I suspect he's a Classic blend of some type.
6/28/2018 07:02:20 pm
This post and your previous post has me wondering... I wonder if RNI is a rare type? I haven't heard of any female or male RNIs to date. I've only seen a commenter consider it for themselves on one of your posts from earlier this month. It would make sense that it'd be rare though considering RNI is a combination of a rugged manliness, fully sensual woman, and cute little girl all in one!
6/30/2018 11:20:24 am
I consider myself to be RNI!
7/1/2018 04:03:25 am
I wonder if Mariah Carey could be a RNI? Or is she a NI? And how about Britney Spears? RN or RNI? Shakira? RNI or does she have Gamine? RNG?
9/3/2018 08:52:56 pm
Hello Bruna. I am NRGI and, just like you're describing yourself, it certainly took a few years before I discovered my most accurate Style Identity but it was so worth it. I've also seen someone previously comment that Lisa Whelchel and Jean Louisa Kelly were both NRGIs, though I don't think Rachel confirmed it, so I cant say that with confidence. (Rachel... any thoughts?)
9/4/2018 12:24:25 am
Oh and possibly Christina Vidal for NRGI as well. I knew I was forgetting someone else! It's quite amazing how different she looks in just okay outfits vs outfits are closer to her Style ID- especially the floral hairpieces and romantic pinks (pinks which don't even seem to suit her skintone in specific... they just make the Romantic essences in her face pop through context)! The magic of Style ID is really amazing!
6/30/2018 12:32:17 pm
I think I've seen somewhere that Scarlett Johansson is RNI...which I could totally see flattering her. Definitely not a fan of her punk rocker girl hair and clotlately. Looks like she's going way too G and somewhat D which clashes with her softer, rounder, relaxed features.
6/30/2018 12:40:56 pm
*hair and clothing lately* not "clotlately"
6/29/2018 02:54:07 am
Hi Helen! I don't know how common RNIs are, but Leandra Leal and Sara Evans are both RNIs.
6/29/2018 11:33:16 am
Could I ask an OT question? I'm suddenly unsure of my season. I thought I was a Deep Winter who runs soft and warm within the season. But then I tried this shirt:
6/29/2018 11:40:30 am
I have been wondering if might be a Soft...but sage green is one of the very worst colors on me, surpassed only by ginger (ginger is the looks-like-norovirus color on me) (but cooler browns are lovely). Sage green drains all the life out of me. But other muted colors are nice - some very muted blues and purples and reds are lovely on me. I always thought mint green was good but I tried it recently and it was harsh. (I am in my 40s, when women's coloring changes with hormonal changes, so it may be that my coloring is softening.)
6/29/2018 07:03:21 pm
Alex, out of curiosity, I did a Google image search of Dark Winter color palettes and found that many of them contain a light yellow similar to the llbean shirt. I don't have enough color training to be certain, but if the DW colors work for you in general, maybe this is simply a DW yellow? In any case, all the best as you sort out your season!
6/29/2018 08:35:19 pm
Janet, you're right! It IS a Dark Winter yellow!! How did I did not realize this? Thank you!!!
6/29/2018 12:26:36 pm
Alex, could you be a Summer?
6/29/2018 12:42:01 pm
Alex, try these tips: https://www.prettyyourworld.com/analyzeyourself.html
6/29/2018 02:34:41 pm
Thank you, Nancy!
6/30/2018 05:22:53 am
Why not go with your gut? I think knowing your season is fairly important for cosmetics (easier to navigate the makeup spectrum and get recs so you don't have to do all your trial and error yourself), but less with clothing. I can easily see if something is matching my skin and don't need to fiddle around swatching it to the palette. I can distinguish more colors than average, so there's always a ton of shades between soft summer and soft autumn that look very distinct to me.
6/30/2018 04:45:43 pm
Thank you, Ralu! That is wise advice.
7/2/2018 05:29:00 am
I wonder which men look good with a mustache?
7/4/2018 05:28:37 pm
7/6/2018 09:38:30 pm
I have a friend whom I suspect has a substantial dose of ethereal. He seems to fit this blog's description of the essence quite well, and on several occasions he's been mistaken for a woman (though usually by old people). He has long, wavy hair and to my eye it's very flattering on him. It's a damn shame he has trouble growing a beard because after reading this, I'm all the more convinced he'd look good with one.
7/7/2018 02:47:27 pm
This gives me memories that make me laugh alot! I used to work in a kitchen, where the boss set up a policy where you had to wear hair nets and shave your beard. One of my friends was so determined to not shave his beard and so willing to wear a beard net because he said his wife would divorce him as a joke. He showed pictures of his non-hairy face. I was wondering why he looks so different in a beard in a good way, but now your post explains why!
8/15/2018 08:58:45 am
I love this post. My husband and I are always talking about how much better he looks clean shaven but have never known exactly why. I thought it must be his coloring but now I think/agree-it must be his style ID. He’s Italian with strong, “masculine”, handsome features. He has silver hair now (very prematurely) but black eyebrows and dark brown eyes. He’s definitely a Dramatic Classic (I am too, for that matter, with a touch of Romantic). He grows a beard every “ Novembeard” (🙄)-and we joke that he looks like a terrorist. As soon as he shaves it off-he’s so darn striking and much more handsome.
8/24/2018 12:16:24 am
This post has really helped me in identifying (or estimating really) men's style IDs! I've wondered what's so appealing about Ian Harding of Pretty Little Liars, and now I can totally see he has tons of ingenue and a bit of gamine. Ingenue men like Harding seem to do particularly well with the 5 o'clock shadow beard:
2/13/2020 02:22:14 pm
I LOVE this article!!!
2/18/2021 11:20:35 pm
I've done a lot of reading on this blog, and I think I have a pretty good feel on style essences in women. But when applied to men I'm completely baffled. My man has big lips (R), big cheeks (I/G), big eyes (I/G and E), a big smile (G), a soft oval face (R?), long legs (E)... He has stick-straight hair, which is the opposite of curly, and the longer it is the worse he looks---why? I think he looks best in plain old crew neck shirts and button downs with the top few buttons open... but have no idea why it is or if I am just imagining it and should reconsider what he looks good in. If Romantic means the illusion of cleavage and an hourglass shape on a woman, what does Romantic look like on a man? A big butt? Big pecs? And how does that mean he should dress? In curved lines? What do curved lines look like in men's clothing? Or just anything stereotypically "sexy," like a suit?
9/28/2022 05:51:44 pm
Do Joe Keery!
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