The Art of Manliness Mustache Style Guide

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 31, 2011 · 59 Comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair, Visual Guides

Movember starts tomorrow! If you haven’t joined the AoM Movember Team, please do! It’s your chance to grow a kick butt mustache and raise some money for men’s health. It’s a win-win!

To help you choose a mustache style, AoM illustrator Ted Slampyak has created this nice chart featuring John L. Sullivan as the model.

Which mustache will you be growing?

Click to enlarge 

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 marsh carroll October 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hope you like my new Canadian music video Grow a Muzzy in Movember –

2 Philip October 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’d be cautious of the Little Tramp. Hitler ruined it for the rest of us.

3 Treb October 31, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I can only grow the Flynn, and my Grandfather rocked it so much better then I can.

4 Lachlan Kingsford October 31, 2011 at 11:08 pm

For those of us who only entertain moustache’s one month of the year, is there any hope of a guide on how to style them? For instance – the Flynn, looks non-trivial

5 steve October 31, 2011 at 11:11 pm

In like flynn

6 Jason October 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I grew a beard a couple months ago and then had to shave it for other reasons. I tried keeping the moustache and it looked rather….. Creepy.

What is the best way to determine what would look good, and whether I should just forget it?

Jason (long time lurker, first time poster)

7 Angel October 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Hate mustaches, in all their incarnations. Mustache makes even Brad Pitt look like a sleazeball.

8 Zachariah October 31, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I assume the “tombstone” is from the movie? Reminds me of Sam Elliott.

9 caleb November 1, 2011 at 12:31 am

I have a very full beard, but somewhat lacking the stach department. All I can grow is the Flynn, and as a driving instructor, I should not look like a creeper. Gunna have to keep rocking the full beard. Until I can grow a magnum or a tombstone or have a different job, I’ll have to stick with it.

10 John November 1, 2011 at 1:12 am

Well, I did it. I’m pretty sure that I don’t look good with any facial hair, but I thought….what the hey! So I threw caution to the wind and signed up for the team (WVUgardenguru).

11 Tom Smedley November 1, 2011 at 4:14 am

The Amish shave their upper lips to repudiate the militarism of the Prussian officer caste, which sported luxuriant mustaches. (Some of them also eschew buttons, for the same reason!)

Fire fighters sacrifice their beards to the demands of the job — the air mask will not seal over a beard. They usually compensate by growing a mustache.

12 ron November 1, 2011 at 6:44 am

Anyone know of an interactive app where you can load your own mugging and put various ‘stache styles on it to see what looks good on a particular face?

13 Daren Redekopp November 1, 2011 at 6:51 am

For me, it’s all about the original John L. Don’t mess with perfection.

14 Trifith November 1, 2011 at 7:38 am

I already have a great Snidely. Movember is great and all, but I’m not shaving it off.

15 Marcus November 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

I’m hoping I’ll have a Magnum P.I. by Februrary, since it will be a year from when I started growing a beard. How long do you think it will take to grow a John L? Two years total?

If you look creepy with a John L. it’s not the mustaches fault-it’s you.

16 Flynn November 1, 2011 at 9:12 am

@Treb – I hear you on that one! I’ll be growing the “In Like Flynn” as well.

17 Fritz November 1, 2011 at 9:27 am

In like Flynn is the only one I can pull off. Wish I could rock the Magnum P. I. though.

18 Chris November 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

The Magnum or the Top one would work for me. Im still a young man with only a flynn, though.

19 Logan November 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

Ive got a full beard now, but in a month or two when i shave it off i’ll probably rock the Easy Rider for a little while. I would actually like to see a styling guide as well for staches like the snidley.

20 Jake November 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

I’m working on the John L., and I am loving it. My wife, not so much. Life is about compromise, and in this case, she’s going to have to. My ‘stache rocks.

21 Mediamix November 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm


22 Joe November 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm

The Ron F@$#ing Swanson.

23 harveywallbanger November 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Where’s the Lanny McDonald?

24 John Hosie November 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Well, I’ve had the Snidely and the Melting Watch before. My handlebar was 14 inches long tip-to-tip. I’d try to start out the day as a Snidely, but as the day went on and warmed up, the wax softened, and it turned into a Melting Watch. If it got warmer still, it would eventually turn into something more like the Movember 2009 contest photo, but on a really hot day, the wax would eventually fail completely, and it would turn into a Yosemite Sam.

Today I’ve got something more like the Easy Rider, but it goes on around under the chin… Not sure what it would be called.

25 John Hosie November 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I forgot…one more thing. Follow the link to see my kids’ answer to moustaches…!/photo.php?fbid=10150321322235684&set=t.513623405&type=1&theater

Think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…

26 David November 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Been rockin the John L. added the goatee so it was more of a Captain Morgan look.

27 Anonymous November 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Brett should seriously make a post about styling mustaches.

28 bashir November 2, 2011 at 12:34 am

Justin, keep up the amazing work. I love your drive. Strobist rocks

29 Robert November 2, 2011 at 1:11 am

I think the closest I will get to anything on this chart is the “In Like Flynn” only thinner. Movember will tell however.

30 Tarcas November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I mirror the consent of those who suggest a guide for styling a ‘stache. Trimming it right can be complicated enough. What exactly is the difference between the Magnum PI and the John L, or the E=MC^2 and the Tombstone? Yes they look different in the images, but how does one trim them to gain and accentuate that difference? Also, how does one tend them correctly? Getting the “Snidely” or “Melting Watch” to stand out right, for example, is definitely not something one should have to mess with on his own. Tips would be appreciated.

31 Guy November 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great guide drawings!

32 manwall November 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm

The ‘stache really brings out the intense look of determination.

33 jake November 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I got a junior John L. Sullivan going in about 2 months. You have to go threw a ugly phase for about 7 to 8 weeks without any trimming, then you part it down the middle useing moustache wax. Then get some got 2 B glued hair gel for the ends. Some light trimming from time to time will keep it in shape.

34 jake November 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I got a junior John L. Sullivan going in about 2 months. You have to go threw a ugly phase for about 7 to 8
weeks without any trimming, then you part it down the middle useing moustache wax. Then get some got 2 B glued hair gel for the ends. Some light trimming from time to time will keep it in shape.

35 chris November 6, 2011 at 5:22 am

i’m a little stuck at the ‘in like flynn’…

36 Stefan Farkas November 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

All the lady love Magnum PI.

37 Chris November 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I have more of a Rollie Fingers, because the ends curl all the way around. I love it. I get compliments on it nearly every day I leave the house. My favorite compliment is when women say that wish they could grow a mustache just so they could have one like mine. I’ve gotten that one several times. On the other side, I’ve had a couple of women say they could never kiss me. When they do, I always promise not to try.

38 ellice November 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Just would like to say, as a woman, none of these are EVER attractive. Just because you can grow one of these, doesn’t mean that you should… I don’t grow strange shapes with leg hair just because hair grows there…take a lesson from the ladies :)

39 Mahan November 9, 2011 at 2:48 am

Apparently, then, the absence of male secondary sexual characteristics is desired these days? Is that is what we are to infer from the above comment?

Frankly, as someone who is completely unable to grow facial hair (confound it!), but whose male relatives can grow it at will, I say grow the ‘staches like Civil War generals! Let the manliness flow!

40 Chad Barnsdale November 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

You know, every year come November, I briefly consider growing a moustache. I realize it’s for a good cause, and hey – it’s only for a month. The problem is that my moustache/facial hair looks so disgusting that it’s almost unbearable. I spent two weeks in the Belize jungle earlier this year and had no access to a razor, and man oh man did I look awful.

41 Marko M November 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I’m growing the John L.

42 Andre T November 14, 2011 at 4:10 am

The Magnum P.I. moustache is the same of Stalin! I think it gives a nobility air that explaines the popularity of such bloody thirsty dictator. It’s all about your moustache, so… choose well!

43 Chieftain November 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

There are some men who just shouldn’t wear mustaches: for such unfortunates they will never ever look other than silly.

For the rest of us, the best way to choose your mustache is to grow a full-on facial beard. A proper one: like Grizzly Adams. The idea is to get the max amount of facial hair happening, because you are going to shape it into the ultimate mustache, just like clipping a hedge.

When you’ve got your full-on beard grown, get a pair of hair clippers and shave your lower lip,and chin, and the middle part that runs down your windpipe. What remains is a Mutton-chop mustache. Look in the mirror: like it? Then shape it and trim it: it’s yours.

Don’t like it? Take your trimmers and shave a straight line downwards, separating the sideburns from the mustache, but avoiding the corners of your mouth. What remains is a Tombstone-style handlebar mustache. Like it? then shape it the way you want.

If not, tidy up your mustache, shaving to the corners of your mouth — no wider. Get the sides even, both sides, Like it? That’s a military mustache, and it can be further shaped into an Errol Flynn or a Little Tramp, and/or trimmed shorter or left to grow bushy like a Magnum PI.

Don’t like any of those? Then mustaches are not for you.

Don’t forget to decide what to do with your sideburns: if you’ve followed this process carefully, they will still be quite long. Trim them back until you have something you like. Me, I don’t like sideburns…

44 Coldwarrior1984 November 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

“I wish I had a pencil thin mustache, the Boston blackie kind, A two toned Ricky Ricardo jacket and an autographed picture of Andy Devine.”

However, I must resign myself to the “In Like Flynn”, trimmed neatly.

45 Bob November 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I have 3 1/2″ handlebars that I wax and curl in 1″ loops. I get positive remarks and compliments every day. Frequently women ask to touch it which of course I oblidge. I even get compliments when I wear it unwaxed. Occasionally I will let my full beard grow out but always keeping the moustache. I have never received a negative remark concerning my facial hair. A moustache is a part of a man’s personality and should be worn with pride. Some women do not like facial hair and that’s OK because there are plenty of men out there who can’t grow attractive facial hair or choose not to. I am proud of mine.

46 Travis November 22, 2011 at 3:02 am

I’m four months into growing my mustache and currently have a very nice Snidely and its not going anywhere anytime soon. Its great because I’m 24 and look pretty young so people are really caught off guard when they catch a glimpse of my mustache. I meet five or six new strangers a day who love just talking about my mustache.

47 Bigtash November 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Hello Chaps, I have a rather large Handlebar that I wax the ends of.
I have had it over thirty years and love it. I have many people comment on it, mainly good comments.The ladies love it !! a mustache should be worn with pride, it makes you stand out from the crowd and looks splendid with a cravat.
Come on chaps lets bring back the cravat an excellent bit of neck wear.

48 Bigtash November 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Sorry Chaps, I forgot to say I’m from the U.K (good old blighty!). I do like this excellent web sight it has some top tips, keep it going.

49 metodex October 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

i wish i could grow one of these stashes.
Sadly, my whole facial hair is a very Arab looking one. And i mean it’s all f*cked up pubes

50 Velton October 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Mine is magnum and i love it the last time i shaved it was on 25 Feb 1971 got my discharge that morning and ain’t shaved it since

51 CDS November 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I have to agree with Chieftain when it comes to starting your facial hair look. Let it all grow in, analyze the “full picture” and then cut back. Personally, I think I look awesome with a trimmed full-on beard (think Sean Connery from “Hunt for Red October”). But then I joined the military and, as a cadet, shaved it all off. As I shaved it off, I tried out some different styles just for curiosity’s sake. Some worked, others didn’t.

Now, I’ve moved up to the “military mustache” because it’s all they let me have. Not everyone likes it, and even I would like to be able to grow it out wider, but it’s become the trademark that helps me stand out and my enlisted troops get a kick out of seeing an officer who isn’t clean-shaven.

52 Curt November 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I grew my first “stache” in 1996 and shaved it off after less than a year. Being in my mid forties now, I feel it is time to give it a go again. My personal preference is a “bulletproof” moustache in the same style as USAF Col. Robin Olds, who sported one of the manliest moustaches during the Viet Nam war. Wish me luck!

53 Simon November 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I’m disappointed…I thought for sure if your doing manly ‘staches you would put Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on there. Civil War hero of Gettysburg, shot nine times. I’d say his looked cross between the John L. and the easy rider. Yet more classy.

54 Neil Matthews November 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Started my ‘stache in early November when I joined the Movember team at work. Not a big facial hair fan – will shave it off on Dec. 1. It looks good and has raised many eyebrows and I’ve received numerous compliments. I’m over 50, but look fairly youthful. The ‘stache (start of a Magnum PI) makes me appear more mature, I’ve been told.

55 Mark Wiz February 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

You guys with the kinky “pube” whiskers, fret not. I’ve got the same thing, but I’ve had a ‘stache since i was 21…started growing it on my birthday. Forty years later, I’ve had a beard, a goat, a fu, but have settled into a nice, cropped, trimmed military w/ a goatee. Just keep it short with the #1 or #2 setting on a facial hair trimmer. Don’t grow it over your upper lip. For every woman who doesn’t like it, there will be at least one who will. It’s your face, man. And no, I ain’t shaving the other hair either. But I assume that’s another article. ;-)

56 Srinivas Kari June 23, 2013 at 2:42 am
57 Brian November 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

The mark of a man is the mustache

58 Sam Yates January 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I’m an Easy Rider and have been for most of my 54 years on this good earth. They tried to make me shave it off in High School but I took the suspension instead. Never regretted it. Once a rebel always a rebel.

59 Jason L February 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

Facial hair rocks! I’ve had a beard and a short-trimmed mustache for 13 years or so, but about 2 months ago I discovered mustache wax and began growing out the ‘stache. Turns out my upper lip produces a stately, classic John L.
Viva la ‘stache!!

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