Named after the celebrated Flemish painter, Anthony van Dyck, the Van Dyke is one of the oldest moustache families. Particularly popular among European royalty during the 17th Century, it predates the Imperial moustache by over a century.
The style is also often referred to as the “Musketeer” or sometimes the “Charlie” after King Charles I of England. When wigs came into fashion, their popularity waned.
This even prompted some aristocrats to keep theirs, which were called “vow beards”. They swore to keep them until their king grew it back, which unfortunately for them never happened.
A variation of the style returned in the USA during the second half of the 19th Century. It was particularly popular among the military but is better known for its association with the Wild West. The style was criticised by the press who suggested it indicated a man “who was selfish, sinister, and pompous as a peacock.”
What facial hair is the Van Dyke? Is it a beard or a moustache?
There is a great debate as to whether the Van Dyke is a beard or indeed a moustache. After all, there is the presence of hair beneath the mouth so surely this suggests that it’s a beard?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as that. Unlike the Circle or Anchor beard, the chin is only partly concealed by growth. The result is a T-shaped facial hairstyle as opposed to the Inverted T beard style.
Furthermore, the rest of the face is cleanly shaven and therefore the style’s accent focuses on the moustache. Considering these characteristics, this family of facial hair is better defined as a moustache or at least a hybrid.
As previously mentioned, the Van Dyke is a very old family. Today, most styles that are identified as one are likely closer relatives to the Balbo beard family. For example, Johnny Deep, Pierce Brosnan and even Vladimir Lenin have been associated with it.
However, in each case, theirs are better categorised as Anchor beards. Nevertheless, there is one modern example of the Van Dyke that everyone is familiar with and that belongs to the founder and face of KFC, Colonel Sanders.
How Do You Grow A Van Dyke?
Depending on the style, Van Dykes tend to require considerable length under the mouth. The growth period can be particularly awkward and frustrating for some. Moreover, when unstyled and in an early growing stage, it can look somewhat unusual.
The most stress-free method is to simply grow out a full beard for between two weeks and a month. Once the beard has achieved a satisfactory length, the undesired growth can be shaved away. One month in, the growth is unlikely to appear finished. However, it’s a sturdy start in the right direction.
If the wearer doesn’t wish to go via a full beard, an alternative would be to grow out a Goatee-style beard such as a Balbo, Anchor or Circle beard. However, it is pivotal that the wearer doesn’t trim especially under the Soul Patch.
Traditional Van Dyke Moustache
The Van Dyke as worn by the painter and Charles I is also sometimes obscurely referred to as a Pickedevant. The stems from the French “pique devant” meaning simply “front spike”. The style is exceedingly flamboyant depending on the combination of an eccentric Imperial moustache and hair growth under the mouth.
For detailed information about Imperial and Handlebar moustaches that can accompany a Van Dyke, visit its dedicated page here. However, the growth beneath the mouth is unique to the style.
The hair grows immediately under the lips from the Soul Patch area. The growth descends the chin and widens towards the bottom in a teardrop shape. The beard stops on the chin just after jawbone where the skin is hollow.
At its widest point, it is no larger than an inch (2.5 cm) across so to reveal the corners of the chin. In terms of hair length, this can be vary with a slight taper near the Soul Patch. The hair is at least half an inch (1.5 cm) long, which corresponds to typically under a month of growth. However, this can be much longer depending on the style desired.
The Doc Holliday Van Dyke
The Doc Holliday earns its namesake from the enigmatic dentist, card shark and gunslinger. He was famed for his friendship with US Marshal Wyatt Earp as well as his participation at the O.K. Corral.
Although better known for his involvement in the events at Tombstone, he began as an award-winning dentist in Dallas. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis at 21 and only given months to live.
His coughing fits in front of patients caused his business to decline and he turned to his proficiency in gambling as his primary source of income. Despite his initial diagnosis, he passed away at 36 having lived a short but somewhat eventful life.
The Doc Holliday Van Dyke moustache is an emblematic style that is reminiscent of the Old West. He can be seen sporting the style in a number of old portraits as well as representations in popular culture.
In Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994), his character wore one when interpreted by Val Kilmer and Dennis Quaid respectively. He has since been played by Tim Rozon in the popular SyFy TV series Wynonna Earp.
Other notable figures to sport the style include General Custer and musician Frank Zappa. Both Al Swearengen and Seth Bullock played by Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant respectively wore one in the ill-fated HBO series Deadwood.
How To Style A Doc Holliday Van Dyke
Much like a traditional Van Dyke, the style is defined by an Imperial Handlebar moustache combined with growth under the lip. However, instead of a larger teardrop, a Doc Holliday features only a modest Soul Patch. This often appears as a trimmed inverted trapezium.
However, it can be grown out to descend further down the chin. You can learn more about this style on our Handlebar moustache guide.
The Doc Holliday is by far the easiest Van Dyke to maintain. Infrequent shaving can be forgiven when adopting this style as Stubble only emphasises its Old West vibes.
The only obstacle in obtaining the moustache is going through the infuriating process of growing a Handlebar moustache. The early stages of a moustache are particularly infamous for the mild discomfort caused by the hair tickling the nose and curling into the mouth.
The Mistletoe Moustache
Often referred to as the Guy Fawkes moustache, the Mistletoe is something of a rare and unusual style. It’s unlikely that the alleged Catholic conspirator ever actually sported this moustache. However, it was popularised as a mask in the 2005 film V For Vendetta.
The Guy Fawkes mask has since gone on to being the symbolic face of the Anonymous hacktivist group. Today it is often used in protests and other social movements to denote a unity around a shared cause.
The Mistletoe is actually a combination of several styles and is rarely as eccentrically styled as its most famous representation. The moustache is either an English Handlebar style with certain hallmarks of the Fu Manchu or the Dali.
It consists of two curved chevrons that begin from the nostrils and slop down to the lips. The tips of the chevrons are grown out and curled with styling aids such as moustache wax.
The hair growth beneath the mouth is similar to a traditional Van Dyke. However, the hair is trimmed to be narrower in the form of an upturned spear point.
Men seeking to obtain a Mistletoe will experience a long process of growing out the moustache hair. This will be followed by regular styling and grooming. Furthermore, it will necessitate shaving on a daily basis to ensure the look remains neat. Unlike the Doc Holliday, short Stubble can be particularly unforgiving.
Will A Van Dyke Moustache Suit My Face Shape?
Despite its particular characteristics, a Van Dyke moustache or beard hybrid is particularly versatile. Its styling can be adjusted according to the needs of various face shapes and can even be employed to highlight certain features.
Oval Face Shapes
The harmonious features of an Oval face shape make it an ideal candidate for most Van Dyke styles.
Although Handlebar moustaches can throw off their proportions, growth underneath the mouth can be very successful in correcting any distortions.
Square Face Shapes
The well-balanced Square face shape features allow the wearer to experiment with a variety of moustache styles.
However, softer, bushier finishes look best as the don’t risk over-exposing any angular features.
Diamond Face Shapes
Although it isn’t impossible for a Diamond face shape to pull of a Van Dyke, it may prove challenging. Men with Diamond face shapes should opt for soft and bushy finishes to avoid over-emphasising their hard features. Furthermore, they should avoid wide moustaches as these may increase their cheekbone width.
Heart Face Shapes
Handlebar moustaches are usually a problematic choice for Heart shape faces. This is due to the thick moustache causing the chin to sink into the jawline. However, by using a long and thick Van Dyke, the adverse effects can be negated and even reinforce the chin’s bulk.
Round Face Shape
Like the Heart face shape, Round features suffer with bushy Handlebar moustaches. Added tall Van Dyke hair growth may counteract its negative effects and provide some much needed face length.
Oblong Face Shapes
Men with Oblong face shapes ought to be careful in how they employ the growth beneath their mouths. A big moustache help in creating cheek width. However, it is best to opt for a Doc Holliday style Soul Patch to avoid inadvertently elongating the face any further.
Triangle Face Shapes
Men with Triangle faces can use the width of a broad moustache to offset their pronounced jawline.
However, they should take care not to over-enlarge the growth beneath the mouth, which would undermine the moustache’s effect. A Doc Holliday would be quite effective in ensuring balance.