If you can't bear to part with the beard you worked so hard to grow, at least balance it with a clean-cut hairstyle.
I love old films and believe that a choice vintage find is a great addition to any wardrobe, but if you're walking around looking more 1913 than 2013, it's high time you time-travelled back to the present. It's one thing to be inspired by the past and another thing entirely if you look like you're in costume from head to toe. Let's start with three of the biggest hairstyle offenses and how to bring the looks up to date.
WWII Military Cut
If your hair is buzzed super short on the sides and left longer on top with a sharp side part, I'm talking to you. The painful truth about this style is that it works for guys with long, angular bone structure, but if you're rounder in the face, shave it off and start over.
Pro Tip: Ask for a gradual fade on the sides and style with a matte product that adds volume (try Imperial Barber Matte Pomade Paste) rather than a classic pomade or gel. It'll give you a vintage-inspired but appropriately modern style.
Dandy Facial Hair
Do you twirl the ends of your 'stache? Guess what? You look more like a pretentious Bond villain or Fred Armisen's next Portlandia caricature than a style connoisseur.
Pro Tip: Limit the dandy influences to your wardrobe. Try sporting a clean-shaven face and slick hair styled with a pomade (like Grant's Golden Brand Pomade) for a more contemporary, well-groomed look. Pair with a pocket square (and bow tie, if you absolutely must) to look classy, but not costume-y.
The Lumberjack Beard
If there's more hair on your chin than on your head (a.k.a the hair iceberg), we have a problem. I know the plaid-wearing, backwoods-dwelling, I-brew-my-own-beer look was all the rage a few years ago, but I'm glad to see it on its way out.
Pro Tip: Manly doesn't mean overgrown (though guys with truly unruly hair should check out our taming guide). Keep your beard trimmed close to your jaw line and use a comb (I like Baxter of California's Beard Comb) to keep the hairs neat. Rub a bit of MCMC Fragrance's Dude No. 1 Beard Oil through your facial hair to keep it soft and conditioned. If you're not ready to part with the beard you worked so hard to grow, at least balance it with a clean-cut hairstyle. Use a grooming crème (like LS&B Pucka Grooming Crème) to guide hair into place so that your style looks intentional, not disheveled.
On a parting note—there's a wide world of great hair out there to explore. If you're mired in the past, check out our ultimate guide to the best men's cuts for inspiration.
—Madison Ruggieri, co-founder of The Motley. Follow her @themotley.