Men with mutton chops often looked unwelcoming and uncomfortable, but they were in fact a popular fashion in the nineteenth century. A mutton chops – or sideburns – was a fashionable symbol of masculinity and strength. The term is derived from the 18th century Russian general Aleksandr Suvorov.
Mustaches & Sideburns
As early as the 17th century, men wore mustaches as an accessory to their military uniforms. The first war saw British troops adopting mustaches and sideburns. In the 18th century, British troops didn’t have to grow mustaches for their duty. In the Crimean War, the East India Company’s Bombay army began wearing mustaches to fight the Spanish. Although British troops didn’t have to grow mustache for their military duties, they were still required to maintain a clean-cut appearance.
Infantry Pioneers Grew Beards
The British army made mustaches mandatory from 1860 to 1916, but mustaches had been uncommon before then. In fact, until the mid-19th century, only infantry pioneers grew beards. In the 18th century, French soldiers wore mustaches. By the mid-19th century, mustaches became widespread in the British military. There are many reasons for the era of the mustache.
Attractive Fashion Accessory
In the 1840s, the British army began to see mustaches as an attractive fashion accessory. The war with the Americans had revived hostilities with Britain, and many famous naval officers were proud to sport mustaches. Captain William Bainbridge, the commander of the USS Constitution, was notorious for sporting borderline muttonchops as part of his trademark ‘burns and disheveled hair. The Mexican American War would follow, and it wasn’t until the 1950s that men began to wear ‘burns.
As Britain’s empire declined in the late 1800s, it became increasingly difficult to maintain a mutton chops mustache. The army was ruled by the British government, but the army’s face-wear regulations were imposed by the British military. But the war in the 1840s brought the first wars between the United States and Britain.
Socially Conservative Institution
The military was also a socially conservative institution. The mutton chops were not a popular fashion accessory. They were considered a sign of status and pride in their country. While the British army had no specific policy against facial hair, the soldiers were still required to wear the ‘burns’ in order to show their national identity. But by the end of the nineteenth century, facial hair became more acceptable.
In the 18th century, the British Army was not the only country to ban facial hair. Its regulations required men to cover their faces with mustaches. In fact, the mustache was not common in the military until the mid-19th century. In the meantime, the British army was in an extremely conservative state of mind.
Most Prominent Part
The mustache is the most prominent part of a man’s face. It’s important to have a proper mustache in order to look smart in military. It also has a symbolic meaning. During the colonization of India, the moustache was a sign of male prestige. The Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, was a strongman who was notorious for wearing a mustache.
Sign of Male Prestige
The military wore mustaches from 1860 to 1916. The mustache was a sign of male prestige. It became a symbol of masculinity during the colonized period. For example, the royal prince Tipu of Mysore was the first to don a mustache during the 19th century. In addition to this, it was a symbol of status. So, why did British soldiers wear mustaches?
In the nineteenth century, British troops were not allowed to shave their faces. In 1843, the British army officer James Abbot, who was deployed to the Indian subcontinent, was the first to raise eyebrows by wearing a large mustache. Muntz, a Birmingham Member of Parliament, was against the practice. In fact, he was opposed by the Governor General Lord Dalhousie, who wrote in his letters that he hated seeing English soldiers in French uniforms.
American Civil War
The term’mutton chops’ was first used during the American Civil War to refer to an officer’s facial hair, which had become more common as a result of the war. The term’mutton chops’ came to symbolize a soldier with thin, bulging whiskers.
Mustaches were originally a sign of wealth and power, but during the First World War, mustaches were mandatory. These mustaches prevented soldiers from using gas masks, which was dangerous during the conflict. The mustache became synonymous with military service, and generals like General Frederic Thesiger, who became famous during the Zulu Wars, wore them. Similarly, Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, a British military leader, became one of the most successful commanders of the nineteenth century. During the nineteenth century, African explorer Sir Richard Burton, who had a stiff upper lip, was ridiculed by his fellow students for wearing a mustache.
Humiliation of Enemies
The British Army was responsible for enforcing the “no moustaches” rule. This was a practical way to make sure that soldiers could not hide their faces with facial hair while they fought. It was eventually lifted by Lieutenant-General Sir Nevil Macready, who hated his own moustache and wanted to avoid the humiliation of his enemies.
Muslims and Sikhs
During the Second World War, the British Army also enforced a no moustache rule. They couldn’t use gas masks if they had facial hair, and the mustache hindered them from wearing their gas masks. So, Lieutenant General Nevil Macready, the head of the Royal Air Force, made mustaches mandatory.
The reason for the British army’s prohibition on mustaches was largely because of the war’s lack of a national war. Having a mustache in the military made them stand out among their fellow soldiers. The U.K. Royal Air Force was an unrelenting enemy.
The word “mustache” means “face” in French, which means “face.” In 1854, the East India Company’s Bombay army adopted the mustache as a hat accessory. However, the British didn’t make the mustache a compulsory part of their uniform – it was a luxury. But, it was the only one in the war.