How to: Groom Yourself Like a WWII Fighter Pilot

Deep down, in his heart of hearts, every man aspires to live his life like a fighter pilot. When you look at the portrait above, it’s not hard to see why. The photo at right depicts Francis R. L. Mellersh, an Oxford scholar who left his studies to fly for the Royal Air Force, and earned the rank of Vice Air Marshall (along with two Distinguished Flying Crosses) for his troubles. As he sits for a trim between missions, he embodies the cool composure of an Englishman in his element—and a style icon worth imitating. If you fancy yourself an aviator, here’s what you need to know.

The Hair

The Hair For a “fresh from the cockpit” look, you’ll need something more than your everyday bedhead. To replicate Mellersh’s windswept coif, work a dime-sized dab of styling clay into your hair from the roots, and tousle it up with your hands for maximum altitude. Mr. Natty Clay Preparation has a matte, natural finish that won’t advertise its presence.

The Stubble

The Stubble As with the hair, a pilot’s stubble is all about nonchalance. For a rugged style that won’t look unkempt, give your whiskers a trim three times each week with the guard on the “2” setting. Since hair this short won’t merit a beard oil, look for a hybrid product that serves both skin and hair, like Stubble & ‘Stache Face Moisturizer and Beard Conditioner.

The Footwear

The Footwear While a truly devoted airman can pick up a pair of flying boots, there are far more versatile ways to rep the tradition of British footwear. These cap-toe oxfords from Church’s are as classic as they come, but brands like Grenson, Barker, and Loake all sport equally fine examples.

The Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches Like any British gentleman, a fighter pilot’s style is all about the details. Mellersh was photographed reading John Buchan’s Greenmantle, but the title is less important than the volume itself—a good book should be slightly tattered, frequently read, and kept around long enough to pass to a loved one. Another instant heirloom is a briar-carved pipe: Mellersh is smoking a sandblasted straight-stem, but you can find refurbished pipes of every shape and size in an estate pipe marketplace. Like the book, keep it close, and it will only get better with age.

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