A Trad Experiment: The Beard

Some of you may have noticed stuff growing on my face if you clicked on my Instagram link last week. That stuff is now almost what I would call a full-fledged beard. While I won’t be attempting to answer the existential question that is, “”Are beards trad?” I will be exploring how a beard impacts a trad.

img_1025My first observation is that you may want to use time off, holiday time, or simply Movember to develop your beard. Depending on the speed of your facial hair it could take around 4 weeks until you have escaped the five o’clock shadow and scruff look. These are in my opinion the harder facial hair options for a trad to pull off. In an effort to curb my pre-beard time in public I started it the week prior to Thanksgiving using the holiday week to grow my beard in private.

My second observation is that if you are anything like me most people will love your beard. Being like me in this instance only means that you are clean cut the majority of the time. I shave everyday for work and my hair is well maintained. This can lead to a “Richie Cunningham” sort of vibe so when the beard starts to come in it seems to turn everything on its head. All I know is that if you are the kind of guy that gets chided for your buttoned-down ways is that people will probably react positively to your beard.

My last observation is on how a beard will effect your appearance. On the weekend I often wear chinos with an untucked OCBD or flannel shirt. Since I have grown out my beard I have learned that this is a no-no. Pre-beard I went with the untucked look to signal that I am off work and that I have casual side. Now that I have a beard I have found it almost necessary to tuck my shirt in when casually dressed to signal that yes I do have a beard, but I am still the same well put together guy. In short, the beard requires that you stay on top of your grooming.

I hope that my foray into the bearded life has been helpful to you all. It has been an interesting experience for me. It is only the second time that I have had a beard in my adult life. For those of you wondering I do not plan on keeping the beard long term. For those of you that read this blog and have had a beard what tips can you share with us?


oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

11 Comments on "A Trad Experiment: The Beard"

  1. Patrick says:

    The beard evolves. Surprisingly, I found when I had a beard, that it was more comfortable in the warm weather. The skin always dried out in the winter and it got itchy. But that was before I knew
    what conditioner was.

    As for your look, in one Ask Andy post someone commented that you always looked great while not looking like you tried to hard. The Italians have a word for this: Sprezzatura.

    Sometimes in the new generation of trad devotees( or for that matter hipster beard weares) they have more the look of reenactors than time travelers. You always looked liked you walked out of a black and white picture into a colorized version of Pleasantville with brick office buildings and quiet streets.
    So more real. So more perfect.

  2. George says:

    Buy a trimmer and use it to trim it at least once per 10 days to keep the look neat and clean. Also, if your facial hair is growing its way up your cheeks or down your neck, shave these areas regularly.

    I still think clean-shaven looks better on you!

  3. Jack says:

    The beard looks superb! I love it. Wish I could grow one! Also I’ve just discovered the website, which will definitely be an excellent resource going forward. I’d never heard of O’Connel’s and now I have a wish list in the double digits.. One question: where is your jacket here from and what’s it called? Thanks!

  4. Jack says:

    Just realised that was two questions.. heh

  5. Gary says:

    The beard looks great, Ox. I’m torn on the subject of beards. I think how a beard looks depends on many variables, not least of which is age. In general, I think a beard makes one look older. On a young gentleman such as yourself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. On a gentleman over a certain age, this can be not as good a thing — a grey beard can age an older guy dramatically, and what old man wants to look older!?

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Jack – Thank you! I appreciate the kind words and I apologize in advance for the O’Connell’s introduction. The sport coat is one of the very few thrift store finds that worked out for me.

  7. Charlottesville says:

    Congratulations on your new look, Jerrod. Interesting that you and Christian Chensvold, two premier bastions of tradliness on the net, both sport beards now. I have worn a beard a couple of times, most recently for a few months in the 90s, which I shaved when I needed a new photo for my passport renewal. It was a nice lark, and every man should try it at least once. For me, I discovered that I never really felt dressed up when bearded, but of course Sebastian Cabott and Edward Whitehead, the “Schweppes Commander,” show that that is not true for everyone. Enjoy your vacation from the razor.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Cabot_(actor) ; http://www.tias.com/3943/PictPage/1923017095.html .

  8. Andrew says:

    I’ve had a beard for more than 20 years, and agree it can work well with our classic style of dress, so long as you keep it well maintained. I use a trimmer about once a week, and shave my neck at least as often (more if I have meetings or appointments). Of course, you want to avoid the hipster/neo-lumberjack look, not least because it would obscure the beautiful curve of your OCBD collars. I do have to disagree with Gary above on one thing, though: The grey that has started showing up in my beard in the last few years has been very well-received by many women I know — particularly the one whose opinion I value most. So I’m not about to complain about that.

  9. Lennart says:

    Jerrod, looks good on you but it looks good without it also, go with what you like the best. Personally I am constantly inbetween, which means I shave with a manual razor once or twice a week. I never managed to grow a real beard, after two weeks it itches and drives me mad and off it goes.

  10. Craig S says:

    Hello Jerrod,

    I did notice the new beard on instagram, and it was quite a surprise. But I think in your case it helps counterbalance the ‘squeaky-clean’ vibe of Trad dressing, and creates a more authoritative or assertive look, if that makes sense.

    I have to say, growing a beard has certainly transformed Christian Chensvold’s look – the grey in the beard and temples certainly contributes to creating a distinguished look.

  11. George says:

    Yep, the beard works. Saves time and money…mostly time, if you add it up. It only takes a day to go from clean-shaven to needing a shave, but with a beard you’re always ready. Trendy, mildly hip, but most of all the beard works. Good for you. I’m a fan.

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