No-Shave-November is in full swing across the United States. For those of you wondering why your significant other has been trying to grow either a magnificent face squirrel, full beard, or lame, spotty attempt at either, it’s all for charity! The month-long campaign (sometimes known as #Movember) is used to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or suicide. You can find out more about the campaign here.
Nowadays, we associate the executive branch of government with a suit and tie, and noticeably, lack of facial hair. The clean shaven professional look has reigned supreme since the last president (William Howard Taft) sported a flavor-saver in 1913. Woodrow Wilson ended the tradition, and it hasn’t made a comeback since.
Although the founding fathers of the U.S. were mostly clean shaven men, one of the most iconic presidents, Abraham Lincoln, wore a full beard. In fact, between 1861 and 1913, only two presidents (Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) did not have some kind of facial hair, either a mustache or full beard.
The lack of facial hair has been the rule, rather than the exception. Out of 45 presidents, only twelve (long sideburns counted) have had facial hair, and interestingly, only four have sported a stand-alone mustache. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) was the first to grown facial hair, sporting an impressive set of mutton chops, followed up by Marin Van Buren (1837-1841) and Zachary Taylor (1849-1850). The mutton chop period in presidential facial hair history was brought to an end with Abraham Lincoln’s full beard. Beards reigned supreme until Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States sported the first presidential mustache.
The popularity of mustaches in the United States, including the presidents, coincided with the world fashion trend, beginning to be worn even by high society members in the 1860s.
Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)
The trend setter himself, Chester A. Arthur was the first U.S. President to wear a mustache during the course of his stay in the oval office. Arthur paired a decent set of mutton chops with a toothbrush style mustache for a classic combo.
Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)
Cleveland must have been a fan of his predecessor’s facial fur because he continued the tradition of mustachioed heads of state. Cleveland is pictured here with his horseshoe style mustache and otherwise clean shaven look.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
The cuddly Teddy Bear might have been named after him, but there was nothing soft about this man. Roosevelt was a tough-as-nails executive with a mustache to match. Sporting a classic natural mustache, and a monocle to boot, he simply exuded class and elegance. We tip our hat to you, sir!
William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
It wasn’t just the mustache trend that came to an end with Taft, but the facial hair craze altogether. The 335-pound Taft went out in style – showcasing his full “imperial” mustache. The last stand of the presidential lip warmers.
Whether the tradition of mustaches, or facial hair in general makes a comeback in the future is uncertain. For what it’s worth, those of us that appreciate history can look back at the glory days of facial hair, and maybe even try to recreate it for a good cause.
Photos Courtesy of the National Archives.