Whether you're sprouting a Galifianakis or a just a little stubble, here's everything you need to know to keep your face in check
For years, the clean-cut man-boy was ruling the runway. Parted hair, waifish waist, skin smooth as a Botoxed three-year-old. Then a gritty crew rolled in and changed the game. With it, the beard invasion began. Whether we're talking about a thick, irreverent Galifianakis or a jawline-amping mown lawn, a beard is just about the most on-trend accessory you can pull on this season. And while they look great on a beanie-and-cardigan-wearing gang like Fleet Foxes, they're not just for dudes who dress down. "When a guy wears one with a suit, it's just like, whoais that sexy," GQ fashion director Madeleine Weeks explains. "They give you this handsome, don't-mess-with-me appeal. Just look at Jeff Bridges, Paul Newman, and Cat Stevens (pictured above). All icons who wore them well." The key is not overanalyzing it. Nothing too manicured or manscaped. Nothing too wild and overgrown. You want to look like you've let go. A little, at least.
"Beards show that you're the independent type and possibly self-employed, seeing as how facial hair is frowned upon in certain uptight conformist corporations: the New York Yankees, for example. Consider Ben Roethlisberger (see above). He made the mistake that many beard wearers commit: He shaved his neck almost up to the chin. Men think this always sharpens the outline of their face and even makes them look thinner. Wrong! This is the worst thing a guy with the slightest weight issue can do. The shaved neck makes you look like you have a double chin."
Chances are you're going to need a little sculpting here and there. A little on the cheeks, a little on the neck depending on the kind of look you're going for. Ideally, you'd leave that all to a pro. A hot shave once a week isn't realistic for most of us, though. Beard-sensei Nick Wendel from The Blind Barber—esteemed NYC barbershop/speakeasy hybrid—lays down some ground rules for taking matters into your own hands.