Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Men's Fashion / Vintage Style

Tom Selleck

In this column, AnOther takes a retrospective look at the style icons of the past

Tom Selleck in one of his Hawaiian print shirts
Tom Selleck in one of his Hawaiian print shirts

To coincide with Movember, an initiative to promote awareness for men's health issues, our latest Vintage Style post considers actor Tom Selleck...

Since 2004, the month of November has been hijacked by a foundation that has the express purpose of promoting the awareness of and raising money for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, depression, and, since 2010, testicular cancer. Originating in Australia and now prevalent throughout the world, the charitable movement encourages men to grow sponsored moustaches in November – the term Movember was coined.

In celebration of Movember, we take a look at the style legacy of a man who is, for many, the very pinnacle of aspiration for male facial hair, Tom Selleck. The actor is best known for his role of private investigator Thomas Magnum in the Hawaii-based cop show Magnum P.I. The thoroughly 80s styling included linen suits, Hawaiian or safari shirts, frequently open, and countless Speedos, all accessorised with a pair of aviator shades and a what is often cited as the world’s greatest moustache – a moustache that, at the time of this article being published, has almost 20,000 Facebook fans.

Treading a fine line between rugged, almost cartoonified masculinity and all-out camp, Selleck’s unabashed flaunting of chest hair, scarcely hidden under a garishly patterned short-sleeve button-up, coincided with a shift in American culture where former motifs of gay sub culture, including previously unfashionably facial hair, were adopted into mainstream fashion. In her book The Berg Fashion Companion, Valerie Steele charts the rise:

“The beard had become rare by the mid-twentieth century, and was thus taken up by young bohemians in the 1950s as a gesture of nonconformity. Beards continued as a countercultural statement in the late 1960s with the hippie movement, when many young men saw facial hair as a sign of ‘naturalness’, or a gesture of admiration for revolution such as the Che Guevara and the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Hell’s Angels and bikers added a leather-clad hypermasculinity to the beard. Bearded hypermasculinity was also embraced within some subsets of gay culture. By the 1970s the clone look emanating from the streets of San Francisco included tight jeans, short hair, and moustaches. The look was adopted in mainstream fashion as soon on the actor Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I…”

Suggested Reading: Read about Another Man editor Ben Cobb's favourite moustaches of all-time here.

Text by Laura Havlin

Laura Havlin is a writer specialising in arts, fashion and culture. She has written features for Dazed Digital, AnOther Magazine, The New British, 125 magazine, i-D and Afterzine

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