When we talk about facial hair, we always like to make the point that facial hair is part of a context, your overall style (more on this in our blog post on beard grooming tips for beginners). Part of that, of course, is trying to decide which styles go with what kinds of clothes. Sounds simple, right?

Well, it’s often more difficult than you think. So, here’s a few quick tips for you. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, since, of course, there are myriad different styles for any given type of facial hair. In other words, think of this more like a set of guidelines focused on the proven, classic styles of men’s fashion–those looks that  never go out of style. So, read, enjoy, and as always, let us know what you think!

If you have a circle beard…

The short circle beard evokes just the right balance of scruff and style. More manicured than stubble but more relaxed than a goatee, it can help a soft jaw line appear more angular and masculine.

More importantly, it can seriously up the dapper-factor of your look when paired with the right outfit. Just don’t screw it up, or you risk looking like a middle-aged suburban postal worker (no offense to postal workers).

Plenty of well-groomed gents (like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, to name a couple) sport this look with red-carpet worthy suits, but we realize that dressing for a movie premiere isn’t exactly doable for daily life. Instead, go for the super dressed-down version.

Try: Structured shirts and jackets

A structured button down shirt is the building block of a casually classy look. Pair it with a blazer or jacket to take the style up a notch.

Don’t be afraid of patterns like plaids and checks, and remember that there are plenty of great jackets made in fabrics that aren’t khaki. Tweed isn’t just for professors. On your bottom half, jeans can keep your outfit from looking too office-ready. Just go for a dark wash, and, as you should with everything you wear, make sure they fit.

If you have a full beard…

The full beard is not a look for the faint of heart. Depending on your level of trimming, your appearance can range anywhere from rugged to wild-man. However unkempt or polished you decide to be, allowing 50% of your face to be covered in hair is a bold choice.

The raw, unfiltered masculinity of this beard doesn’t need a lot of help to look awesome, but a bit of softness in your outfit can help take a mountain-man image into the modern world. Or just go full lumberjack. Your choice.

Try: Sweaters

Have you ever seen a photo of a gorilla cradling a fuzzy little kitten? Pairing a full beard with a sweater has a similar visual affect. Next to the coziness of a sweater, the beard seems tamer, calmer, and less likely to throw feces at passers-by. In all seriousness, the sweater and beard combo is a great option for the grizzly guy looking to soften his appearance.

Try a crew neck knit sweater in a solid hue to keep your look simple but comfy. If you want to mix in some lumberjack, try a plaid button down with a cardigan. Chunky, cable-knit sweaters are especially effective at keeping your look (and you) warm and approachable without losing your masculine edge.

If you have a handlebar mustache…

As old becomes hip again, the handle bar mustache is making a comeback. When it’s done right, this style can look classic, but it can turn too old-timey without careful attention to haircut and clothing choice. If you prefer to throw sweats on and do nothing before you head out the door in the morning, the handle bar might not be the look for you.

If you’re up for the challenge of dressing to the nines and keeping the hair on your head in good condition, get out your razor and mustache wax and handle-bar away.

Try: Fitted, patterned button downs and vests

Like the short circle beard, this mustache goes well with structure. Tailored button downs in contemporary patterns can help keep the look mature and edgy.

Miniature checks and striped chambray are good patterns for casual classiness, and pairing your shirt with a tailored vest evokes that old-fashioned style without going full Monopoly-man. The right pair of dark-wash jeans will help you stay contemporary, and wingtip oxfords finish the ensemble.

If you have a goatee…

The goatee is a look for the true risk-taker. Someone who’s not afraid to shape his facial hair into a style associated with sleazy night club owners and the worst of 90s boyband mania. Although it’s gotten a bad rap over the years, the goatee is still a great choice for the man who’s not afraid to own his individuality, and it can be styled to evoke retro charm or rockstar badassery.

Just keep your shiny windbreaker and matching pants in the closet where they belong. And throw your oversized suit jackets in there with them. Please.

Try: A leather jacket that doesn’t suck

It is crucial to choose a leather jacket that doesn’t suck. What does this mean? Nothing loose or baggy, nothing that covers your ass, and nothing that evokes visions of Keanu Reeves from The Matrix. Think James Dean. Keep it clean and simple; choose something that isn’t covered in excess belts and zippers.

The right leather jacket is a versatile piece of outerwear, and it has the potential to make you look like a modern day Fonz. Pair it with a scarf to soften the look, or grab a pair of aviators and do your best Dave Grohl impression.

If you have stubble…

Perhaps the easiest to achieve (after puberty) of all facial hair styles, the stubble is a look that can easily go awry. Stubble paired with rumpled hair, an unwashed t-shirt, and wrinkled jeans makes for a sloppy overall appearance.

Stubble paired with a carefully styled mane, tailored trousers (WITHOUT PLEATS), and a clean, button down shirt? GQ all the way. Don’t overthink it on this one. Anything clean, fitted, and contemporary can make stubble shine.

Try: Fitted Polos or Tees

Now, remember: when we say fitted, we don’t mean that you should find something so tight that everyone can see the outline of your 6 (or 24. We don’t judge) pack. We just mean that it shouldn’t be too big for you. A crisp, fitted tee or polo paired with a nicely tailored trouser or jean makes you look casually put together.

For warmer understated charm, add a hoodie or cardigan. Stick with colors to keep the outfit from creeping into the mundane—white tees are for underwear commercials and basketball practice. When the occasion calls for it, the stubble does pair very nicely with business and formal wear, just always be sure to keep the look as simple and tailored as possible. You need a clean palette to offset the scruffy glory of your stubble-covered face.

Check Out These Related Articles: