Bold and Brave


Ya know what I love? I love a slightly outrageous moustache on a gent. Now, I know that out-there facial hair is all the rage with the hipster dudes right now, and I get a kick out of that, too. But mostly I’m referring to curly-tipped ‘staches on older guys, sculpted facial hair on dads, and the like. Because I see that kind of personal grooming decision as bold and brave, a cheeky way to tell the world, “Hey, I’m awesome. And maybe a bit eccentric. And I don’t care who knows it.”

Here are some of the advantages of a bold, brave, funky moustache that make me an envious lady:

  • It is an everyday declaration of personal aesthetic preferences. This kind of facial hair takes commitment.
  • On the flip side, it is impermanent. It can be removed completely, or altered dramatically with a little patience and skill.
  • It can work on a vast array of body and face shapes, and still have appeal and impact.
  • On an older man, it implies a sense of personal style that has been grown and cultivated over a lifetime of experiences.
  • It conveys personal confidence. Instantly.

So. I’m unable to grow out my lady-‘stache to curly gloriousness, and that’s just fine … but I’ve come to realize that my short, asymmetric haircut serves a similar purpose. Nearly every week, a stranger stops me to compliment my on my hair, and I’m always flattered. But I think they might be seeing something besides a pleasing ‘do. A shaved-side asymmetric haircut with super wild curls on the non-shaved side isn’t mild or classic or understated. Like a slightly outrageous moustache, it declares aesthetic preferences, is impermanent, and conveys confidence. So perhaps it, too says, tells the world, “Hey, I’m awesome. And maybe a bit eccentric. And I don’t care who knows it.”

Not a statement that everyone wishes to make with their style or grooming choices, to be sure. But if you consider style to be one of your creative outlets or feel like you’re struggling to express the real you to the observing world, ponder a signature item, style, body mod, or haircut. Eventually, you’ll find just the thing. And when you do, it might just make you bolder and more confident in other areas of your life.

Though, perhaps, not quite as confident as this fella, who is so secure in his own awesomeness that he hung tiny Christmas ornaments on his ‘stache and let someone take his photo. For the local newspaper. Rock on, my good man, rock on.

Image courtesy Gilroy Dispatch.

Originally posted 2010-12-22 06:33:54.

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45 Responses to “Bold and Brave”

  1. Laurel

    I tend to think that women have many more options than men in terms of showing their bold eccentricities. Not only are hairstyles, piercings, and hats included but you can also think about hair color, body art, style choices, and, if you carry a bag, your choice of handbags. There aren’t a lot of clothing options for men at the store level- button downs, polos, t-shirts, jeans, pants, etc. Women have ruffles and sleeve types and proportion play, etc.
    My figurative “lady-‘stache” would be my use of color. Before I was a fashion blogger, I wasn’t very “stylish” or “confident.” Despite that, I used lots of color. Under my wedding dress, I wore hot pink shoes to flout convention. I love shocking more conservative people with my wardrobe in an unexpected way.

  2. EvaNadine

    i do have a nose piercing, and i have short hair — which tends to be a fairly bold statement in and of itself. but i also tend to change my hairstyle/cut fairly often, and i have no qualms about playing with color, including adding some bold color in there once in a while. just as in many of the points you made, it takes a certain amount of commitment, but it is also impermanent — i can take out my nose stud at any time, and i can dye my hair a “normal” color whenever i feel like it. i suppose it conveys a message of personal confidence, too; people often compliment my on my hair — something that never happened until i lopped it all off.
    i think any look that is outside the realm of the “usual” can be a personal statement so long as you love it and you own it.

  3. Kylara7

    My brother and his friends have a mustache contest every year that is judged at the local VFW on the night before Thanksgiving. The guys grow their facial hair all during the fall and then put the final sculpting and finishing touches on the night of the big event, judged by the audience….it’s become a big event that everyone looks forward to and enjoys πŸ™‚

    I agree that facial hair is definitely a way for men to play with personal style in a way that they cannot with their hair and clothes (the way that women are able to). My partner has a full beard, not a hipster or dudebro beard (short and scraggly) or a ZZ Top beard, but a fairly full and well-trimmed thick beard that I adore. It’s soft on my cheek and full of colors: black, brown, reddish-blond. He says it keeps his face warm in the winter but he keeps it year ’round, probably partially bc I tell him often how much I like it πŸ™‚

  4. nestra

    Well, if I didn’t have an enormous head that never fits into the cute ones, I would wear kooky, crazy hats all the time!

  5. Di

    I vote hats and scarves. My husband has an Auntie who is a wonderful, strong personality. She wears stylish hats, no matter what the season, and pairs them with a variety of scarves and wraps. My favorite combination – a winter white coat with black buttons, a red felt wide-brimmed hat with a black velvet ribbon and a wool and silk shawl with the white, red and black swirled together.

    Oh, and Auntie is over 6 feet tall. She is an impressive sight, indeed.

  6. Peter

    OK, I’m a guy but I have an opinion about this. I think a woman dyeing her hair bright blue or pink — and I’ve seen both — is a similar kind of gesture toward bold, brave personal style equivalent to that mustache.

    But I wonder if the statement they’re making is “Hey, I’m awesome, maybe eccentric and I don’t care who knows it, etc.” Sometimes I can’t get beyond the “LOOK AT ME” message, so I lose the “I’m awesome” part. I would rather find out that someone is awesome by getting to know them than having them shout it (proverbially) at me. Do you know what I mean?

    Do I sound like an old crank? πŸ˜‰

  7. Erin

    HATS! As a woman with a big head, I am constantly envious of ladies who have average size heads and can wear ALL the hats they desire. A hat can lend itself to any sort of occasion, and they come in every sort of style imaginable. You can be anyone in a hat, from anytime, and from anywhere. And when you’re done with a look, just pop it off your head. It’s the ultimate bold accessory. (That I am mostly denied. SOB!)

  8. Bubu

    I think Peter hit on something really interesting there – when is an out-there style/grooming move an expression of personality or an attempt to distract from the person? Sometimes when I see someone dressed really eccentrically, my first thought isn’t “wow, what an interesting person” but rather “who is hiding underneath all that?” Not necessarily fair, and I know I certainly try to use my appearance/style/grooming as an expression of self, not to mention for fun and amusement, so that may just be an unfair reaction on my part. Wonder how others feel.

  9. HM

    I like when people cut lines into their eyebrows. I think that looks pretty badass.

  10. Cynthia

    The other day at the hair salon, I was the only person present telling my stylist to “go darker”. I figure that my short, precisely cut, non-highlighted, brunette-embracing hair is my statement, in a culture that puts a premium on long, blonde and fluffy (+ I think this is much truer in the conservative South than it was in the Midwest). If I can work up my confidence, I might go towards a Jane Wiedlin-style pixie. As I get older, I might also think about embracing my tendency to unisex up, and making it really a style statement, instead of trying to soften it.

  11. tiny junco

    re: hats. i’m known as ‘the hat lady’ in my neighborhood, as i wear hats most of the time (esp. in summer). however, most hats look terrible on me. i’ve just found the few that look great and wear those. if you REALLY want to wear hats, dig in and find the one or two that love you back! it’s worth it.

    as others have said, ANYTHING can be a trademark look if you love it and own it. i’ve seen ladies who’ve turned BLUE JEANS into a personal style trademark – it’s attitude!

    and a link of mine, since it’s all about hats and personal style:

  12. Chalkdust and Boots

    I would agree that hats / piercings / fun hair color would be “our” equivalent to badass facial hair. If you’re into amazing mustaches, you should look do an image search on Indian mustaches! There are some enviable handlebars there…

  13. sarah

    yes, hats and hair. Sometimes coats: when I first moved back to Seattle, the “red coat” trend hadn’t happened yet and my bright red princess coat drew a LOT of (positive) attention. Still does – this is not a colour-wearing city. I don’t even wear hats a LOT but I still was introduced by a professor to his wife with, “isn’t that a great coat? And you should see the hats she wears to class!” (not a snub: he has written a book on fashion, and she’s very stylish). Though I agree, I would have a lot MORE cute hats if my big head could fit into vintage sizes!! Ladies, I feel your pain!

    Lately, I’ve also decided to embrace my thick, VERY straight hair by getting blunt cuts. I have been growing out my flapper bob from September and want to get another strong, statement haircut in January, of a variety I remember seeing in hair fashion magazines as a kid and thinking, “no one ever gets a cut like this in real life.” And even though I haven’t dyed my hair in years, and though I never used to dye it truly crazy colours (because I worked in retail boutiques and pink or blue hair doesn’t fit those “lifestyle brands”), my profs from undergrad still remember “you dyed your hair all those crazy colours” (at work they called me “technicolour sarah,” because I changed it every month).

  14. Amy

    I’m more with Peter. When I see outlandish styles it comes across as attention-seeking to me, not joyful self-expression. But maybe I, too, am an old crank. πŸ™‚ I do love creative style, but I think it can be taken to an extreme that makes the individual look ridiculous instead of awesome.

  15. angie

    I love the look of crazy two toned hair on young-ish blokes and gals – like black hair with cobalt streaks. When you have hair like that, and it’s in good condition and cut well, it becomes the person’s strongest accessory.

  16. Franca

    For me, certain hair cuts, like a pixie crop for example would be the equivalent of a tache. I think a lot of things could have that effect though, if worn consistently.

    Re the showing off/self expression: Unlike some of the commenters above, I never think that people are attention seeking if they wear really outlandish clothes (or at least, not attention seeking in a bad way), but I do sometimes think people look silly.

    And that always seems to come down to the confidence with which people wear the outlandish clothes. I know people who look really natural and ‘themselves’ in full goth get up, while others dressed in the same way can often look uncomfortable and unsure of themselves and like they’re in costume.

    It’s kind of the consistency thing again. If you commit to whatever statement thing/haircut/piercing etc day in day out, it becomes part of you, and then it exudes confidence and doesn’t come across as a weird ‘Look at me, I’m mad, me!’ thing. Does that make sense?

  17. Barbara

    I wear my hair Very Short- less than 1″ right after a cut. I’m always telling stylists to go shorter. I like it this way- and, I color it red. That’s my bold and brave, since I tend to be more conservative in clothing choices.

  18. DianaH

    I enjoy facial hair as well. I always think that if I were a man, I’d have a prodigious beard indeed. I especially like muttonchops and extravagant mustachios.

    For women, I think a hat says a lot. Hats used to be the norm for everyday wear but we don’t see much of that in the US anymore. I love seeing women in fedoras, berets, and cloches. Very striking. For myself, I have very short hair and have since I was in high school. The only time I realize that short hair on women is still sort of statement-making is when I’m with a lot of women who have long hair, as I was last night…then I sort of remember that my short hair probably does draw attention, simply by virtue of being the shortest in the room.

    I also have a tattoo. I love tattooes and think they’re an amazing way of expressing oneself, male or female.

  19. Lucyna

    I don’t think women really have anything that would be the equivalent of an outlandish moustache. But I do love seeing an ‘older’ lady sporting something like a nose ring or trendy hair style/colour. I think it can look seamless and classy, but it can be hard to pull off.

    I also LOVE when a woman wears ‘manly’ clothes but still looks sexy. That speaks volumes to me. Think…Coco Chanel.

  20. Audi

    How funny that no one has mentioned makeup yet; to me that’s the equivalent of a fuky ‘stache because it’s part of a woman’s grooming routine and is equally changeable. But of course I’m a big supporter of hats as a vehicle for personal expression! Nestra and Erin need to hook up with a custom hatmaker (ahem!), because everyone should have at least one stylish hat.

  21. Erin

    Makeup! I work in a very conservative environment, but have been rocking silver eyeshadow all week in honor of the holidays. Same goes for bold eyeshadow and nail polish. It’s actually a very fun look paired with business or business casual.

  22. anya

    For the days i like to impress i change my style from my normal princess-prep skirts and dressed look to tougher rock. Studded belt, moto gray jeans, leather jackets( even though i wear the former pretty much always) , black boots and booties, silver-winged earrings, and of course a white crisp shirt and a waistcoat. Accessories can me the man mustache. If you dare to wear something that really stands in the way. Ah an gentleman things. Like a man’s watch and hat (bought from men’s department). A boxier suit. worn with stilettos. Of course hats, berraites, cloches , bowler’s and fedora’s, and my personal favorite a cute wool knit hat with ears (like a cute squirrel’s i suppose). Fancy leather gloves. Big puffy colored gloves.
    But the real fancy and eccentric in a more organic way is nail polish. Dark purple, deep red, sparky blue, black or zebra printed, whatever makes you feel nice! And you can make it one of your quirks. I wear daily nailpolish, usually deep tomato red, but also orange, purple and black. And rarely trendy grey or greige or something.

  23. JB

    The only thing I can come up with that would be equivalent to a moustache would be dredlocks or cornrows. Either would be a significant change in appearance that can be stylish and artsy, represent some degree of commitment (unlike an accessory that can be easily switched out for another), but are ultimately temporary and can easily be undone (unlike an ultra-short haircut or funky hair color, which can take time and effort to grow out or cover up). Of course, men can rock dreds and/or cornrows too. But I daresay the more stylish ones I’ve seen have been worn by women!

  24. Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    Hmm… I find the comments about bold fashion statements being “attention seeking” kind of sad. It would be a rather grey & dull world if nobody wore wild, crazy, eccentric, & awesome outfits amid all the mass-produced fashion out there. Rock that handlebar mustache, neon hairdo, piercings, whimsical hat, wild couture, all at once if ya like! Somebody has to πŸ™‚

    My personal statement (aside from just being CorpGoth) is dark lipstick. I absolutely wear it every day. Rich, deep burgundy & wine & dark brown colors. It’s a good balance to my (almost naturally but dyed) black hair & black cat-eye glasses.

    • Sal

      For what it’s worth, I personally admire people who show a bit of “attention-seeking” behavior, especially if it falls into the realm of style. Like you, Trystan, I love variety, creativity, self-expression, and the kind of bold bravery we’re mulling in this post. If someone dresses in a way that says, “look at me, ” I’ll look at them. And enjoy!

    • Amy

      Oh, sure. I love to see great and creative style, but if someone looks like they’re wearing a costume instead of expressing their individuality, I wonder who’s under it all. That’s all. πŸ™‚

      • Trystan (the CorpGoth)

        But who’s to say what looks like a costume & what’s expressing their individuality? In the photo above, the man has xmas ornaments hanging from his mustache. That could be pretty costumey (hey, he’s a Christmas tree!). But it’s also very cool & unique. Some might think this lady — — looks costumey, but she wears this style every day, to work & wherever, & looks fabulous. Who’s to judge? And even if someone really does want to wear a costume every day (superhero! ballerina!), what’s wrong with that? If it works for their lifestyle & doesn’t hurt anyone else or impinge on the dress standards of the events they’re going to (working customer service jobs, attending formal weddings, going to the opera, etc.), what is the harm?

        • Amy

          Well, it certainly does no harm – it’s not wrong at all! But, I do think that it can cause others to not take superhero/ballerina seriously. If superhero/ballerina doesn’t care about that, more power to him or her. But a lot of people do care about being taken seriously, and looking like you’re dressed in a costume doesn’t help there.

          Anyway, it’s just my opinion, so take it with your requisite grain of salt. πŸ™‚

  25. sarah

    so can I ask Amy and Peter, if I’m planning to make myself a hat akin to the Philip Treacy/Alexander McQueen cloud of butterflies hat (but a bit smaller), does that fall on the outlandish side or the joyful side of things, in your opinion? I’m curious!

    • Amy

      LOL. My opinion? I love a Philip Treacy hat, but to me its effectiveness depends on its execution. Do you look like *you* wearing a Philip Treacy hat, or do you look like the hat is wearing you?

      • sarah

        Thanks for weighing in, Amy! You know, I don’t know the answer to your question because I’ve never had the funds to, say, dangle a sequinned lobster over my face (ha!). That is to say, I’ve never been able to afford such a hat, so I don’t know if I could pull it off. I just assumed that I could – or rather, the “pulling it off” part of the equation never came to mind.

        I’ve always assumed the difference between wearing clothes or clothes wearing you was confidence. (Hey Sal, what *is* the difference between clothes or clothes wearing you? That might make a good post!) For me, confidence in what I wear doesn’t only stem from the mirror-check (does this flatter?) but also from passion. If I really love something (even if it’s over the top), I can’t lose myself in it because part of it *is* part of me. Also, at this point, I’ve been making bold clothing choices for so long that people expect anything from me except jeans and a t-shirt.

        What do you think? How do you separate the two? (Wearing/being worn by clothes?)

        • Amy

          It’s something I still struggle with, honestly, but feeling like me in my clothing choices is something that’s started to come as I hone my personal style. One thing I like about Sal’s posts and her style is that she knows what works on her and what’s “her”, what fits seamlessly into her wardrobe. I’ve started doing the same thing so I don’t wind up with a bunch of things in my closet that I liked theoretically, but not in practice. Sometimes when I wear something I’m not used to, if I don’t love it I feel like I’m in costume as someone else. But what you said, “if I really love something, I can’t lose myself in it because part of it *is* part of me” – yes! That’s exactly it.

          Sal, this would be a great post! Wearing clothes … vs. being worn by them.

          • sarah

            I know what you mean about wearing something that’s on the edge of the comfort zone (or out of it), though, Amy. I bought my first pair of skinnies this year. I found a pair I really liked, but it was a totally different look. With my newly bobbed dark hair, I looked like some kind of rockabilly kid. But I took the plunge and wore them, dramatically, with heels and a black turtleneck and beret. I had this feeling that once I turned up on campus, my friends and acquaintances would be less surprised by the outfit than I was. And that’s exactly what happened. For them, it wasn’t “whoa, new look,” it was “you can pull off anything!” And rather than confess that this reaction was my “mirror-check” for the day (because, really, who would that help or serve?), I just thanked them all and owned the look. So while it still takes a bit of courage to go through with my ideas sometimes (like this hat), I have this feeling that my gut won’t steer me that wrong.

            Sal, can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  26. HollyElise

    I have a nose piercing and I switch between wearing a ring and a stud there – keeps people on their toes! I also recently started dyeing my hair, going darker as opposed to lighter (against the crowd, at least in Honolulu where girls with dark hair go brassy-brown).
    I think the quickest way for me to make it clear that I am awesome and a bit eccentric, though, is to do my makeup. I favor rainbow shades of eyeshadow and fancy, curling black liner. Since the rest of my look is fairly “normal”, my eyes grab attention πŸ˜€

  27. rb

    I used to describe my look as “classic, with weird shoes,” so I suppose that was my rebellion. However, my recent foot problems are keeping me from wearing my vast collection of weird shoes (mostly 15+ years of Fluevogs and 5+ years of Farlylrobins) with my classic clothing, and also, as more people started wearing unusual shoes I started to feel more mainstream – I guess that’s how it always goes – so I guess I’m not currently rebelling at all.

  28. Kate K

    For about three or four years, I had very short hair and I rocked the extremely big and eye catching earrings. Initially, I wasn’t out to make it my “thing;” I bought an absolutely enormous pair of gorgeous glass earrings at an art studio and that’s how it all began. I started to seek out big earrings because they were like little works of art and with my short hair, they took center stage on my face. It became my thing–people *expected* big earrings from me. I have longer hair now and I wear smaller earrings but people still buy me big earrings and tell me that if they see someone with big earrings, they automatically think of me.

  29. Kat

    I like crazy patterned tights; I have an embarrassingly large collection. (Space print! Fishbowl print! Glitter!) I used to dye my hair wild colors, but can’t get away with it in a very conservative profession. (Not yet, anyway.)

    Also very long hair–I just trimmed mine back to a bit above my waist recently and miss the length. When it was grazing my butt I got comments on it all the time; I want it down around my hips. Takes even more time than a good mustache.

    (Oh, and I do like good male facial hair. My SO has a huge bushy ginger-colored beard and mustache, and a ponytail down his back… totally stereotypical computer geek style.)

  30. Jasmine

    I actually get a really big kick out of dressing in a fairly conservative librarian look. It really throws people off that I “dress up” for daily life, plus it’s fun to run into coworkers or what-have-you in a bar. Most people I see on a day-to-day basis are used to it by now, but I always get comments from new people about how “classy” I am, which is always nice.

  31. firefly

    Two words: Blue. Hair. It’s a bit more permanent, but the stares and exclamations of “Woah, is your hair BLUE?” are totally worth it. Other than that, I like to completely change my look from one day to the next, like J. Crew/preppy to military to punk and who knows what else. My normal style is more basic and casual and very un-matchy.

  32. Christina

    A bright smile and confidence enough to do a little jig down the street. I know you asked for accessories, but I suppose I just don’t see any one type of accessory that would be more empowering than a hefty dose of self-confidence. Be happy with that you’re wearing, even if it’s not the most flattering thing in the world, and more than anything else, that tells the world, Hey! I’m awesome. Recognize.

  33. Haleema

    Well, I don’t do it to seek attention or to be eccentric, but I wear a headscarf/hijab. Pretty stare-worthy in the U.S. of A. Unfortunately, it seems to be viewed as an act of oppression instead of expression. Fortunately, I don’t care πŸ™‚