Mustaches are fads. For the most part, they've been out of style since the 1970s, when they were all the rage thanks to mustachioed stars like Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck. But if you were a British soldier between 1860 and 1916, you would almost certainly have had a mustache. That's because it was a military rule that you were not allowed to shave above your upper lip. Hence, most men in the British Army had a mustache, if they were able to grow one. The directive came about at least partly because of the influence of French soldiers who prided themselves on their mustaches, which they believed translated to manliness and virility. Although beards became popular among British military men in the second half of the 19th century, by the turn of the 20th century, it was all about the mustache. According to a 1906 British Army order, head hair should be kept short and the chin and lower lip area should be shaved, but the area above the upper lip should be left untouched. You could also grow "whiskers," but they had to be kept trimmed. It wasn't until 1916 that soldiers were allowed to keep the upper lip area clean. This was immediately acted upon by General Sir Nevil Macready, who had never liked the compulsory mustache-growing. General Macready went to the barber to have his own 'stache shaved on the very day the order was issued.
More on the mustache:
- On average, a man will spend approximately 3,000 hours during his lifetime shaving and grooming his facial hair, if he has it.
- The longest mustache on record was 14 feet (4.2 m) long and grown by Ram Singh Chauhan.
- Many famous men have donned mustaches, including Albert Einstein, who grew one for at least 50 years.