When Did Scruffy Become Sexy?

Paul Buri, RSA

Paul Burri, RSA

I remember a time when a guy was considered to be scruffy, careless, drunk or out of work if he walked around unshaven. Today it seems that the reverse is true. Not only is it OK to be unshaven, but apparently it is now considered to be manly, sexy and in style. I have a lot of questions about that.

First of all, how do those guys achieve that look? I have in my bathroom, three safety razors, two electric razors and one straight razor (that I use from time to time just for the hell of it.) Not one of those razors will give me that sexy unshaven look and there is no way that I can figure out how to achieve that look except to not shave for three days. After that I start to have the unsexy unshaven (unemployed) four-day beard so I need to shave again. But then when I do, I’m back to my former unmanly look again – until about three days later. Is that how it’s done? And what happens to my sex life during those three clean-shaven days without that sexy unshaven look. (That will be the subject of another column.)

Secondly, do women really think that an unshaven face is sexy? Sounds pretty scratchy and uncomfortable to me. And why would they? Don’t they already know that men tend to grow hair on their faces? Real men, that is. Would they appear even more sexy with a full beard that reached to say, their navel?

Maybe I should revise that second question. Do men think that women think that scruffiness is sexy? Apparently so if you look at all the current cologne ads for men. OK guys, good luck. Whatever works for you. And even if women did think it looked sexy, would it be worth the discomfort of that unshaven feeling? I felt under the weather for a few days last week and I didn’t shave. After three days, the unshaven feeling was almost as uncomfortable as my illness.

Then there is the question of how did scruffy suddenly become sexy? To answer that I suggest that it is just another brainstorm of the fashion industry which has to think up the next greatest thing on a yearly basis. First it was narrow ties, then it was wide ties, then it was back to narrow ties again. (I have plenty of both in my closet. I’m ready for the next fashion trend, no matter what it is.) I also remember when it was gauche to wear brown shoes with a blue suit. Another fashion idea out the window these days. But then again, I can also remember when you could understand the words to songs.

My next question is where will men’s fashion go from here? Elaborate fancy curled moustaches like they wore in the Old West? Parliamentary wigs? Codpieces like what was fashionable in the 1500’s? Unzipped flies? Loose, baggy shorts that hang down to one’s ankles? Oh, sorry, that is fashionable already.

My personal solution to all this is to keep on shaving like always and just wait for narrow ties to come back in.

©2015 by Paul Burri

Paul Burri is a self-described retired smart ass who feels he has earned the right to say anything he damn well pleases. He is an inventor, entrepreneur, business consultant, educator, newspaper columnist and has been a SCORE (www.score.org) counselor for over nine and a half years. Over his 65-year business career he has owned 9 businesses and has worked as general manager for many small companies and on a managerial level for such major companies as Northrop-Grumman and The Disney Corporation. He has over 175 inventions to his credit, counseled over 190 SCORE clients, served as a docent at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, sits on the board of directors of several local small businesses, and is currently writing a book about small business.

He lives with his wife in Santa Barbara CA and can be contacted at pburri@cox.net and has nothing better to do than to tell his “war stories” to whoever will listen – many times repeatedly.


  1. Maybe guys are more swayed by “fashion” these days…. I agree with Paul–it’s just a passing thing. A guy with a beard (well-established or “short term”) is okay with me as long as I don’t have to kiss him. BTW..what’s with the 19th century beards on professional baseball players these days? Dustin Ackley of the Seattle Mariners looks like one of the guys on the cough drop box.

    • Anonymous says

      Mary, this “passing thing” is taking Waaaaaay to long to pass! As a matter of fact it appears to be picking up steam, probably because guys are inherently slobs and letting the whiskers grow is easier than shaving every day.

      Barbara Morris

  2. Greetings, I agree with Paul. The dirty look is not attractive or sexy. On the other hand, a nice trim beard looks good on some (some mind you) men. I often wondered where that awful style came from and I am sure it won’t last long. Does anyone know if there is a poll about this subject? I do believe that the style is geared towards young men and women. All the old styles do come back sooner or later. Here’s to the sexy men, YEAH!!! Becky

    • Anonymous says

      Thanks, Becky for joining the conversation.

      Some facial hair on a young guy may look “cool” but I wouldn’t want to get close to it!

      Something else I just thought of: Old guys see the “cool” young guys and think they will look cool too if they grow a beard or mustache. Yuck! White beards and mustaches, no matter how neatly groomed make an old guy look 20 years older. Not sexy!

      Barbara Morris

  3. Mmm… I want to speak up for beards. No all beards and not on all men. Some look great. And some look dreadful. ….. it depends on the face and the shape/style of the beard. I can think of several men who would improve their appearance with a beard. For me, the important thing is that the beard or moustche suits/enhances. And it must be looked after, and, I can attest that not all beards are stratchy (I dislike those) – some are soft and downy.

    BTW, to answer Paul’s question ‘how do men get that smart 3 day beard?’ There are electric razors that give that look (the heads can be adjusted to give 2,3,4 days) – if he wants to add to his impressive razor collection.

    • Me again, apologies for typos !

      • Mary, thank you for expressing your opinion.

        One reason I harbor such disdain for beards is that they obscure the “character” of a man’s face. I like to read faces and it’s frustrating when I can’t evaluate the person I am interacting with. Then, of course, there is the hygiene issue. In my opinion men are not the neatest of God’s creatures and I suspect that more than a few beards contain the remnants of last week’s chicken noodle soup. (I could be wrong, of course, but probably not. As my family will attest, I am ALWAYS RIGHT about everything.

        Again, thanks for sharing your opinion.

        Barbara Morris

  4. Ohmigosh! Barbara, I am so with you! I can’t stand beards on men, in any way, shape or form! And that’s been true all my life! Now, you Paul, have given women a chance to speak out and to admit this!

    Another thing, besides the obvious discomfort that a beard of any length causes a man and a woman, is the stupefying factor that it makes the face so anonymous!!! WHY would any man wish to do that to himself? All men with moustaches; all men with goatees; all men with scruff; all men with bushy bristles…… look oddly alike. The hair color is the only variation.

    Whereas, every human has unique features to their face, which age only sculpts to a finer degree. None of this shows behind a foolish face curtain. If women had a true voice in the matter, we would probably unite in a resounding STOP IT, GUYS!

    Odd, that you should mention this now… but recently, I wrote a personal journal entry about male facial hair, which I was too chicken to post in my metaphysical blog/website: http://www.insecretdiffusion.com. But, I’ll try to find it now and may just submit it to Barbara as my article in next month’s issue here. I can’t remember exactly what it contains, but be prepared for hints at Alien Influences, or something or other. Hopefully, it will be Fit For Publication….. now that the subject is open here. Obviously, this is an incendiary topic (Burn The Beards?) with women. Come on, gals! Share your feelings too!

    Linda J. Brown

  5. Barbara,

    I don’t object to beards, per se. It is that scruffy two-day old unshaven look that bothers me.


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