Andrew Glenn: What's with hipster beards?

By Andrew Glenn

Full-blown — or should we call them full-grown — beards seem to be the only concession to winter warmth Kiwi blokes will make.

Beards are back in fashion. Photo / Alamy.
Beards are back in fashion. Photo / Alamy.

From a fashion perspective there's a serious denial of winter by a few lads out there. Walking down Queen St the other day, despite the Mercury dipping below 10C, I noticed countless young men wearing shorts and T-shirts. I can only relate this denial of cold to the generally optimistic nature of the Kiwi male.

Winter is relatively short, so who needs winter clothes? I relate it back to primary school days when kids would walk barefoot to school in July. No pain, no gain.

Clothing optional is not the only man-trend of recent times. There's a grooming movement that is, literally, out of control. I'm talking about the rise and rise of the full-blown beard.

Beards that come to rest on your chest, full-blown bacteria colonies dangling from the chins of otherwise talented, creative and stylish men. Not sure where this hipster trend originated but, seriously guys, ditch the look. It's really best sported by the Taliban and their friends.

The female population will also thank you for it. A nicely trimmed man looks masculine enough.

That's not to bag all hipster trends. As a rule the Kiwi hipster male gets it pretty right. Skinny I Love Ugly pants elasticated at the ankle; button-down shirt in blue chambray; barber buzz-cut hair on the sides, long and swept back on top. It's a much preferable look to that Bintang singlet favoured by so many of our cousins across the ditch.

With the passing of winter I recently felt the need to engage a ferocious edit (or should that be audit) of my wardrobe to weed out winners and losers from the past. Big loser: pink cashmere Abercrombie & Fitch sweater. Not sure about the thought process there. Winner: a pair of brown, perfectly scuffed Blundstone boots I wore as a teenager; a fashion resurrection.

They prove the rule that classics always last the distance. Think white Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. APC unrinsed denim. A Comme des Garcons zip wallet. Ray-Ban sunglasses.

With brands launching so many collections so often, with so much choice as a consumer, my golden rule of thumb is to invest in these classics.

If money is tight, stick to investment pieces you can wear year after year. A warm, practical but stylish winter coat. A great navy or grey slim suit. Classic white shirts. Dark slim-fit jeans. And maybe a Blundstone boot, or two. Take a leaf out of Nat Cheshire's book - he always looks razor-sharp.

As Yves Saint Laurent once said, "Fashions fade, style is eternal."


- VIVA

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