The first Van Dyke Beard craze arose out of the original form of celebrity culture—not TV or the movies, but portraits of the rich and famous, tycoons and royalty. This style of facial hair is named after Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyke, who lived from 1599 to 1641 and painted famous portraits of King Charles I that featured the distinctive beard style.
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Now, you’ll always have an answer whenever someone asks why is a beard called a Van Dyke?
So, if you decide to shave off your cheeks and try to pull off the Van Dyke Beard, you’ll be stepping into a centuries-long history. We’ll go over some of the most important considerations for those men who’re considering the Van Dyke, including whether it’s in style, how to cut your beard into it, and the style icons that rocked it.
What is the Difference Between a Van Dyke and a Goatee?
The Van Dyke and goatee aren’t by any means opposites. Rather, we can say that the Van Dyke includes the goatee, but the goatee doesn’t include the Van Dyke (sorry for causing SAT flashbacks).
Simply put, the Van Dyke is a goatee plus a mustache. There are many ways of approaching this combination. Some keep the goatee short and the mustache long, while others try to grow their goatee to a sharp point while keeping their mustache under control.
The classic Van Dyke with a flamboyantly curled mustache and sharply pointed goatee lends an old-fashioned and elegant look to the wearer. You do look like you’ve just walked out of an Early Modern painting.
There are also more modern interpretations of the style—it’s surprisingly flexible. You can play around with all the different options and check out how the actors we’ve included below chose to approach their Van Dyke.
Is Van Dyke Beard in Style?
The Van Dyke beard hasn’t ever quite reached the popularity it had in King Charles’ time, but it also hasn’t ever disappeared. Wearing the Van Dyke is a statement that puts you slightly out of the mainstream, but such a posture has always been fashionable. You never want to be doing exactly what everyone else is doing.
That said, the Van Dyke is compatible with the recent trends in facial hair styling. As Mark Grassick writes in Dapper Confidential, “the overall verdict is that beards are still in… but in a less-scruffy, more well-groomed way than before.”
This goes perfectly with the precisely shaved and shaped Van Dyke, which keeps a good bit of beard on your face in a neat and tidy way. And when it comes to van dyke beard vs goatee, the former is certainly more in style.
Face Shapes and Van Dyke Beards
The Van Dyke beard works with just about any face shape, but there are some subtleties we need to remain aware of.
If you have a very long face, you want to be careful with how extreme the point of your goatee is. That risks making a long face look even longer.
On the other hand, the Van Dyke is a great choice for people with very round faces. The point of the goatee can substantially lengthen one’s face when wearing a Van Dyke beard. Round face insecurity can be a thing of the past.
How do I Cut my Beard into a Van Dyke?
The shaving part of getting a Van Dyke look going is the easiest part of the process. You need to shave your cheeks completely and regularly, leaving your mustache and goatee in place. Since you want to get rid of as much stubble as possible in a classic Van Dyke, use the right products to get a close shave.
The extent and regularity of trimming are really up to you. Some people like to wear their Van Dykes very long and scraggy, while others prefer the clean-cut vibe. Whatever you choose, your scissors or trimmer must be sharp.
You also want to practice all the care for your Van Dyke as you would for a full beard, including using beard oils regularly.
Celebrities That have had a Van Dyke Beard
Leaving Colonel Sanders and Vladimir Lenin to the side, many men who are universally seen as attractive have chosen to transform their beard into a Van Dyke. Although none of these Hollywood icons that wore the Van Dyke made our top five list of film-inspired beards, that’s a tough list to crack and some of them were close.
1. Pierce Brosnan
Picking up the look at the start of 2020, Pierce Brosnan caused a stir when he started to go everywhere in a Van Dyke. It wasn’t just for a movie role but a way of life that he took to events as diverse as the Golden Globes and the Prince’s Trust Awards.
2. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp has gone through just about every style of facial hair, whether in real life or as Captain Jack Sparrow. But the Van Dyke is a style he’s returned to over and over again, and could even be called his signature look.
3. David Beckham
The Van Dyke was a fixture of the final days of David Beckam’s playing career when he was in LA and under the influence of all the other entries on this list. He wore his mustache heavier than most others, which might be a good option for you if you want to draw more attention to your upper lip than your goatee.
4. Christian Bale
Like Johnny Depp, Christian Bale has returned to the Van Dyke many times over his career. It forms a fixed point for his mature and sophisticated style, which he somehow pulls off with a fairly unkempt Van Dyke.
5. Mel Gibson
The elder, post-scandal Mel Gibson, has enjoyed the gravitas that a Van Dyke brings. He adopted the look once he could play off his grey goatee against his still brown mustache. He’s even gone full curly mustache at points!