Men's Sideburn Styles

Sideburn enthusiast, Englebert Humperdink
Although daily shaving can be a definite drag for men, the existence of male facial hair does at least offer them the option of expressing their own individuality and completely changing their appearance via a beard, moustache and /or a shapely pair of sideburns.

Sideburns suggest virility but also, if in the right configuration, elegance - they can be employed to slim down a face, reflect an era or style and just generally conjure a particular image that the wearer might be desirous of getting across. With that in mind, let's explore some of the common sideburn affectations that have proved popular with the testosterone crowd....

Mutton Chops
General Ambrose Burnside.
Perhaps the most famous of the classic styles, mutton chops, are the least subtle of sideburn creations. Full size mutton chops are showy and hairy and extend down to below the chin. Often worn by big, blustery men - retired Colonels, Major Generals, red-faced British publicans and extroverts, they are sometimes but not always, paired with an ostentatious handlebar moustache.  but rarely a beard, as usually once a beard is merged with sideburns, the 'chop' shape disappears.

The mutton chop look was very big in the 19th century - a period when sideburns were at their most ostentatious. According to Wikipedia, the term 'sideburns' is relatively new and a reversal of the old descriptive word burnsides, named after American Civil War General, Ambrose Burnside, who wore a particularly fine pair of mutton chops.

50s Teddy Boy/Rocker
Obvious sideburns and in fact, facial hair in general, went out of vogue in the 30s and 40s, apart from the odd pencil thin moustache. In the 50s and early 60s though, the sideburn was back with a vengeance, varying in size from half sideburns to to thickish, chin length numbers and mutton chops that were pointed inward toward the mouth..Sideburns were particularly popular with a certain ilk of Teddy Boy and Rockers, though the heavily stylised sideburns were not as obvious on the early Mods, who favoured a more boyish haircut, rather than a primped up pompadour that showed off the burns to full effect.

However, stylised mutton chops did enjoy another resurgence in the late 60s, when there was a penchant for ironic Victorian fashions and of course the Rocker/Teddy boy look has gained a new popularity with enthusiastic rockabilly fans.

Late 60s mutton chops on Monkee, Mike Nesbitt

Some of the many sideburns of Elvis
Elvis Presley was a particular fan of stylised facial hair, having gone through several sideburn configurations throughout his  his career. In fact he loved sideburns so much he couldn't really 'let go' and continued to wear them  even when they were looking a tad dated but then, they became a kind of trademark and it's hard to imagine him without them.

Sideburns seemed to have been popular with 60s crooners in general and were also favoured by singers such as Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink, who cultivated a kind of old world romantic look, matching their quaint Victorian facial hair with billowy white shirts and gold chains.

Subtle Contemporary
Laurence Harvey
Modern sideburns tend to have a less extravagant flavour than either the old style mutton chps or 50s Teddy Boy, yet they still reflect something of the 50s retro style. Clive Owens fetching hair and sideburns style is reminiscent  of 50s actor Lauence Harvey. They even have a similar I'm so detached expression.

British actor Clive Owen - subtle sideburns
There are plenty more sideburn styles not mentioned here - ultra-thin, flat ones that join up to a beatnik beard, little short stubby ones, immense over-the-top monstrosities. I suppose the psosibilites are wide and there may yet be sideburn styles to be discovered. I'm almost envious of men, that they  have these interesting plots of facial hair-- design elements,  to play with... but then again, not really.