A quintessentially debonair style reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the pencil moustache is a rarity today. However, when styled and worn properly, it’s a stunning piece of facial hair that evokes class and grace.
In this guide, you will learn all about the pencil moustache and how to grow one for your face shape:
- What Is A Pencil Moustache?
- How To Style A Pencil Moustache
- How To Trim A Pencil Moustache
- Will A Crew Cut Or Fade Suit My Face Shape?
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!
Synonymous with swashbuckling heroes or gentleman thieves of the 1930s and 1940s, the Pencil moustache is a decidedly debonair style.
It was made famous by Hollywood Golden Age stars such as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable as well as Douglas Fairbanks and son. Other yesteryear icons include David Niven, Basil Rathbone, Robert Donat, Omar Sharif, Sammy Davis Jr, Little Richard and Vincent Price.
In short, the Pencil moustache was huge. Indeed, it was an obligatory accessory for any discerning gentleman that exuded sophistication and elegance.
See The Best Beard Trimmers To Buy
Over the years, its popularity waned a but a few celebrities sport one unless specifically preparing for a period film. French actor Jean Dujardin caused a stir in 2011 when filming The Artist and the style saw a brief renaissance.
Otherwise, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Eddie Murphy have been known to dabble with a Pencil moustache on occasion. However, only a few cultural icons such as John Waters and Sir Bruce Forsyth are specifically known today for theirs.
Perhaps its deeply nostalgic connotations are what has caused the Pencil moustache to fall out of fashion. It’s a style that complements anything between white tie attire to an open collar shirt with an optional Ascot tie. Although can be been seen on men in beanie hats, it tends to look awkward away from more formal wear.
How To Style A Pencil Moustache
The style compulsorily requires a daily personal grooming routine with regular shaving and touching up. Beyond this, which many may perceive as a chore, it’s a relatively easy style to obtain requiring only a steady hand.
Pencil moustaches require a thick yet short growth. The moustache can be styled from as little as two weeks of growth. However, it is better achieved with as much as a month. The longer the moustache is left to grow, the more likely younger hairs have had the time to build density.
Unfortunately for fairer haired men, thin Pencil moustaches tend to look better with darker hair. However, men with fair hair are probably intimate with the issues surrounding their youthful beard growth. This can be overcome by either styling a thicker moustache or dying the hair.
Pencil moustaches sit low just above the upper lip. The bottom can either follow the natural hairline or be neatened using a razor. Furthermore, the length can extend beyond the corners of the mouth but no more than 1/8 of an inch (5 mm).
How Do You Trim A Pencil Thin Moustache?
You can trim a pencil moustache by following these steps:
- After preparing the face, shave normally save for the moustache.
- Using clippers, trim down the moustache to the desired length.
- Decide on the style before shaping (see below). Remember that the fairer the hair, the thicker the style.
- Shave the contours downwards from the nose using its base as a reference point for a straight line.
- Shave in slight increments on each side to avoid taking off too much. Bite on the top lip to tighten the skin.
- Use a comb and scissors or trimmer edge to finish the straight line across the lip.
- Optional: Shave or trim a parting on the philtrum from the centre outwards.
Overall, we suggest that you avoid using a modern razor to trim a pencil moustache. As they tend to have larger guards or plastic frames, you won’t be able to see what you’re doing. Instead, opt for either a shavette with an open blade or a well-designed beard trimmer.
If you choose a trimmer, consider using a lighter model with good balance that’s steady to hold. You can see our favourite models with our guide to the best trimmers.
The major hurdle to overcome is ensuring that the moustache is trimmed evenly and not crooked. Seeking out a competent barber would ensure better results. He or she will be able to draw out the moustache with a steadier hand and expert touch. Maintaining the moustache will then be a far easier endeavour.
Double Pencil Moustache
The double or parted moustache is probably the most iconic Pencil style as it is reminiscent of classic Hollywood stars. The two wings are parted at the philtrum and slope down the sides of the upper lip.
The parting can vary in width but are best kept well-defined and relatively narrow. For this reason, a double Pencil moustache requires some dexterity to achieve. If shaved too wide, the moustache can appear strange and make the palate seem unusually wide.
Furthermore, the parting also makes the Double Pencil particularly difficult to maintain as the parting requires regular shaving to stay neat. Given that the Pencil moustache looks best on a clean-shaven face, this even becomes a daily endeavour for the wearer.
The wings can be kept straight or formed into pointed chevrons. If the latter is desired, the centre is left thicker than a regular moustache for a defined finish. Finally, the moustache’s line can also move vertically up the philtrum to stop just under the nose, which frames the centre.
Single Pencil Moustache
Single Pencil moustaches are a simpler variant to the more elaborate parted version. In turn, these are far easier to maintain and only require some care when shaving around them. Single moustaches tend to be remarkably thin and require thick, dark hair to be noticeable.
Their thinness also suggests that they are difficult to embellish with a taper or chevron finish. They often sit right above the top lip and follow its shape. However, sometimes they can sit slightly higher and work as a smooth curve over the mouth.
Thick Pencil Moustache
Sometimes unaffectionately referred to as the “mouth brow”, thick pencil moustaches are an alternative to its more renowned cousins. These are also an ideal option for men with patchier growth or fairer hair as it will appear bolder.
Moreover, they are easier to maintain for novices or men on the go. They are also more forgiving to mistakes that can easily be created by readdressing the contours.
Those seeking to mimic Vincent Price’s timeless style can also taper the contours for a chevron finish.
Will A Pencil Thin Moustache Suit My Face Shape?
A Pencil moustache is an elegant choice for a discerning gentleman who wants to stand out from the crowd. A man can ensure that he looks his best by adapting the moustache’s form to his face shape.
Given the moustache’s simple form, there are a few limitations on how it can be honed. Nevertheless, there are both solutions an alternatives, which can help to use the moustache to complement his stylish ensemble. On a final note, we’ve outlined 7 unique face shapes; be sure to identify yours before reading his section.
The following face shapes will have few problems in supporting a pencil moustache!
Diamond faces fare better with softer, more voluminous moustaches. However, by thickening a Pencil moustache and rounding off its contours, they can excel with this style without exaggerating their cheekbone width or their angular features.
Heart Face Shapes
Heart face shapes are fortunate in that an elegant Pencil moustache will seamlessly correspond to their facial structure. An angular finish can even broaden the chin and emphasise their features.
Oval Face Shapes
Like Heart faces, Oval shapes can benefit from the modest size of a Pencil moustache. The shape can be honed to to give emphasis to their chin and build out their jawline. Moreover, hard contours can be used to render the face squarer and bring out their softer features.
Round Face Shape
Pencil moustaches can be effectively used to sharpen their features and offset the proportions of a Round face shape. Sharpened chevron finishes keep relatively narrow within the corners of the mouth will provide height to their face length.
The following can wear a pencil moustache but may benefit from a few tips to avoid some common pitfalls.
Men with Oblong face shapes will struggle to make a Pencil moustache work for them. As their face shape requires emphasising width, a typical Pencil moustache risks elongating the face even further if too narrow. A very wide Pencil moustache that is also thick enough to not cut through their cheek width may compensate for this sufficiently.
Square Face Shapes
Thicker moustaches are more effective on Square face shapes as a small one can appear lost among their strong features. A Thick Pencil moustache can be used to overcome this. The moustache can then be parted and chevroned to the heart’s desire of the wearer.
Triangle Face Shapes
Triangle shaped faces should be careful that their moustache is not thin as it can make their face appear larger. Furthermore, they should ensure that the moustache is relatively wide as a narrow one risks considerably widening their jawline.