Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Can Middle-Aged Men Have Long Hair?
Still thinking about the The New York Times middle-aged/long-hair debate - but having concluded that as far as women are concerned, age is unimportant - it's quality, condition and a decent cut that matter - let's turn our attention to men.
Apart from rock stars, fashion designers and er, X Factor contestants (that's Wagner in the photo, not John Galliano), does long-hair really work for men of a certain age? I put it to the Blog Widower - shortish hair, longer on top, not much grey - and he said, "The two words that summarise my despair about this country used to be `The Monarchy', now they're `Top Gear.'"
Mmm..I can see where he's coming from but that's more than enough of smug middle-aged men showing off in fast cars/ front of Simon Cowell, wearing crap clothes and ladies' hair. Time to ask the experts.
The case for:
Author and style commentator, Paul Gorman
'I like long hair on older men - the Grinderman outback/maniac thing with a suit always looks fab.'
'When I was 38-41, I liked my hair long and straggly behind the ears. I was inspired by these guys I saw in Asia, in a Singapore shopping precinct. Skinny as hell with long hair, vests, crosses, sarongs and sandals and a sprinkling of tattoos. It felt right for a couple of years but it became problematic in London in the winter - too cold to dry it naturally. So I gradually reduced it and then went back to the quiff. But I might do it again - goes well with a beard once the temples have started to go and you get coarse greys.'
The case against:
Fashion writer and historian, Iain R Webb
'I think the short answer is short. Long hair on a, ahem, middle-aged man is definitely aging. I went through the classic mid-life crisis thing when I left my last full-time job. I went all hippie and grew my hair. Even though I work in fashion and have sported styles that had breezed my collar - think Surf Dude meets Coupe Sauvage - suddenly I had flowing locks that looked like I'd lost my way at Glastonbury Fayre in 1971! Thankfully, I now have a short back and sides with a side-part. I am actually thinking of getting a shorter spiky cut. The only problem: when you have a sharp short style you have to keep getting it trimmed to maintain the look.'
As with middle-aged women, if the man has got a good image to start with, like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, then long hair can look amazing. I simply can't imagine Iggy Pop with short hair. But for grown-up men without a rock and roll lifestyle, Iain's right. You can't beat the traditional short back and sides. Like Jon Hamm in The Town or the most recent episodes of Mad Men when Don Draper's super-slick image is slowly sliding off a bar stool.
Model, Andre Van Noord in the latest issue of Vogue Hommes International has a slightly longer version of this versatile 'do.'
Oh go on then, let's have one more photo...
Personally, I can't imagine going out with a man whose hair is longer than mine, Mr TNMA spends enough time in the bathroom as it is! What do you think?
Signed copies of Paul Gorman's latest book, The Life & Work of Barney Bubbles, are available here
And I'll be blogging about Iain R Webb's new book, Postcards From the Edge of the Catwalk soon. Promise.
Wagner: Rex Features
Top Gear: The Guardian
Paul Gorman: Sarah Lee
Iain R Webb: The Independent
Jon Hamm: The Guardian