Goatee beards have had quite a long history with many periods of popularity following periods when they were out of fashion.
From the ancient Greek god Pan, to Brad Pitt, the world has seen different goatee styles to suit every personality type. From long goatees to short ones, to a beard without mustache, goatee beards have seen a lot of variations over the millennia.
Though the original goatee styles were just a tuft of hair on the chin like a billy goat would have, thus goat-ee, variations are abundant and can be changed up often. The key is that it is a fairly long goatee.
What is a goatee and is the goatee beard still in style?
Since beards have made such a big comeback, facial hair is way back in. So, rocking a long goatee won’t make you look like a holdover from the 90’s if you decide to grow one out.
History of the Goatee Beard
As I mentioned, the Greek God Pan was depicted as a half goat half man, with a long goatee beard on his chin.
It likely didn’t get adopted by the Greeks at the time as a fashionable trend, however.
Then once Christianity came into being, the image of Pan with a long goatee was transferred to what the early Christians imagined the Devil to look like, so that ended any possibility of men taking different goatee styles on for quite a while.
In fact, think about early movies or images of villains in stories and it’s pretty common to see the bad guy with a long goatee beard because of that association. What is a goatee if not the symbol of an evildoer? It’s an easily identifiable trait when movies want to quickly portray somebody as the bad guy.
Vincent Price with his anchor goatee styles come to mind as he sported it in many of his films as the quintessential villain.
Going against the grain of this evil association were the Bohemians in Paris during the late 19th century. These free-spirited men made long goatee styles an iconic look for anybody who wanted to appear intellectual even today.
Around the same time, the goatee beard had a resurgence during the American Civil War.
Then, it kind of went away until the 1950’s with the Beatniks and the look has ebbed and waned every decade or so since.
The last time goatee styles were really popular was in the 1990’s when Ethan Hawke put it back on the map. After seeing Before Sunrise, I even went for the goatee look for about 4 or 5 years!
Different Styles and Shapes of Goatee Beards
One of the oldest goatee styles – the goatee that gave the name to this type of beard.
It’s basically a beard without mustache, just a tuft of hair under the lip and over the chin.
Originally, it would have been quite a long goatee as that is how it looks on a goat and how the god Pan would wear it.
These days it is usually trimmed neatly and kept shaped.
Any type of face will work with a classic goatee, but your beard should be rather thick, at least in this area.
A thin, patchy beard without mustache wouldn’t look right.
When the mustache and the tuft of hair under the chin are connected it is a full goatee.
Full doesn’t mean long goatee or thick hair, however as it can be just stubble, or trimmed very tightly.
Will Smith has one that he usually keeps trimmed and looking groomed.
To pull this one off, again, you will need to be able to grow a full beard and mustache.
This can work for most faces, but if you have a double chin or a very round face, it might look awkward.
This is generally a more professional goatee that can pass in some offices with a high tolerance for facial hair that isn’t a full, well kept beard. Just make sure it is trimmed and shaped well to make sure it looks alright in an office setting. You may not want to opt for a long goatee for this style, but that is all personal.
Van Dyke Goatee
Named after the Flemish Painter Van Dyck, it is probably the most popular of the goatee styles over the last century and is now coming back into vogue.
It features a longish mustache that goes beyond the edges of the mouth with a pointed beard under the chin.
This may take some time to grow and maintain as it requires some length, especially on the chin area to be able to be groomed to a triangle shape.
This is a tricky one to wear for some guys.
I recommend that you pass this one over unless you have a thin face with well defined jawline and chin.
Think of Johnny Depp and you get the idea. Not that you need to look like a Hollywood star to be able to pull it off, but you should have the right features for it to look natural.
This goatee style is very similar to the Van Dyke, but the area under the chin goes out a bit wider on the sides. It’s shaped like an anchor which gives the name.
Another difference is the mustache is not as wide and stays about the edges of the mouth without extending out. They are also thinner, more pencil style mustaches.
My advice is similar to what I gave for the Van Dyke goatee styles in that it works best for guys with a triangular face with a well defined jawline.
Right under the bottom lip, that small bit of hair is called a soul patch. I am not really sure if it qualifies as a goatee, or as a beard without mustache, however, but its popularity puts it on the list.
In the 1950’s it was very popular with jazz musicians, especially African Americans, notably Dizzy Gillespie.
How it got the moniker is still somewhat of a mystery.
Since it takes up so little real estate, it doesn’t really matter what shape your face is. I wouldn’t say it is for everybody as I feel it needs to suit a certain personality rather than a face shape.
Not sure, really. It just seems to work on some people and not others but it’s hard to put a finger on the reason why that is.
How to Trim Your Goatee
Before you set about trimming your goatee, you need to have some hair to trim and also be ready with a beard trimmer or groomer beforehand.
The first step is obviously to start growing out your beard. If you have never grown a beard before, then you need to see how it grows in so you can determine which different goatee styles could work best for you.
Once you have the beard to a trimmable length and have decided on the type you want, then it’s time to shave the goatee.
- Make sure you have washed and thoroughly dried your beard before you begin.
- Start with making an outline around the edges giving yourself a little bit of room. You want to have some extra width there in case you make a mistake or want to change your mind once you see it.
- Once you have the outline done right where you want it, then put an attachment on the trimmers to the desired length.
After you have gotten the goatee to how you like it, not the challenge is to keep it that way. You can follow the tips on how to maintain a beard for the best way to trim and maintain your goatee as the same principles apply.
How to Decide on the Right Goatee
In the description of each of the goatee styles I mentioned which face shapes are best for different goatee styles, but it bears repeating here. Not every goatee is best for every face.
I think a goatee, any goatee, works best on thinner, triangular faces.
That isn’t to say that you can’t have one if you have a full or round face.
It’s just that they don’t look right on everybody.
I know this is very vague advice, but a goatee is very different than a beard.
A beard looks good on just about anybody as long as you maintain and groom it. It can be full or thin, edged, a beard without mustache or just mountain man wild. It can suit most faces since it covers most of the face.
A goatee can look very creepy on the wrong guy.
I really think that the style depends more on two things than the shape of the face.
Are you a bit creative or known for your philosophical nature? Then a goatee will likely work for you.
Do you have a bit of an edge? Kind of an unpredictable personality?
Then, yeah nobody will be surprised by your goatee.
Do you wear jean shorts and tuck your oversized t-shirt that you got free from an electrician friend of yours that has his logo and phone number on it?
Then your goatee will complete the look of a guy that is in desperate need to get his style and grooming game on point. Please, if that is your style do not grow a goatee!
Beard growing ability.
You’re also limited to what kind of goatee based on how your beard grows. If it is thin in certain spots then you may not get the desired effect.
Some guys that actually want beards are kind of forced to wear goatees. If your beard is patchy and only really grows well around your mouth and mustache then many goatee styles can actually look pretty good.
My suggestion then is to grow your beard out first, see how it grows, how it looks on your face and then make a determination of what goatee styles could look best.
If you are lucky with the ability to grow a full beard consistently all over your face and you have a very well defined jawline, then congratulations. You won the goatee lottery and can pretty much grow whichever one you want!
Final Thoughts on Goatees
I, for one, am glad that the goatee is coming back. When I look at pictures of me from the 1990’s I no longer have to apologize for the goatee.
I can now not only show off my rugged facial hair from my twenties but can also grow one now. If my wife would let me that is!
Do you have a goatee? Which of the goatee styles would you go for?
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