I was reminded of the unspoken bond that binds all guys who strive to pull off this in-between look when talking to Kevin Martinez, DETAILS magazine’s publisher recently at STORY, a rotating gallery-meets-retail space in New York. He told me an anecdote that immediately rang true:
Here’s the difference between eras: My oldest son recently got married. They spent one month reviewing how his scruff looked the best. And they found that at three and a half days it was perfect. If it was too long, then it was too dark in photographs. If it was too short it was too light in pictures. So it took [the bride and groom] a whole month to research it. When I got married 35 years ago it was: ‘This is where we’re getting married. This is what time you show up. Please be sober. And don’t bring your idiot friends.’ That was the extent of my grooming. Now they did an entire study of how his scruff looked the best. Times have changed.
I love this story because the stubble becomes a collaborative effort among multiple stakeholders. How do you find your stubble sweet spot? You experiment. Ask your friends (or your bride to be). Take photos. Once you’ve landed on your number (down to the hour if you want to be that precise) just work backwards from important events, like, say, your own wedding, to ensure optimal length for the days that matter most.
After a couple weeks of sorting it all out I’ve determined that my beard is something of a slow poke. My stubble porridge (not too hot, cold, dark, or light) arrives—like a trusted friend—on the morning of day six.