How Standards of Male Beauty Have Changed Over the Last 100 Years

10 months ago

Men have always strived to be handsome, stylish, successful, and, of course, appealing to ladies. By whim of fashion, they became more masculine, sexy, casual, and carefree. Certain decades saw men who had a carefree elegance to them. Haircuts, mustaches, beards, suntans, and muscles have all played a great part in the changing appearance of male beauty.

The time of wrestlers and strongmen

Public Domain

The performances of Eugen Sandow at the beginning of the 20th century were as popular with women as The Beatles’ concerts in the ’60s.

Pure elegance

Sleek hair and a languishing look

Everybody’s losing their minds over cinema and Rudolph Valentino, the silent movie star. Almost every man with sleek hair parted in the middle, like this leading man of Hollywood, automatically became ultimately handsome.

Sexy mustaches

The world copies stars more and more. The image of male beauty is an athletic body with good posture, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and strong muscles. The famous Clark Gable whiskers became the peak of fashion.

Open sexuality

The ’50s were signified by the rockabilly style and Elvis Presley, tall and handsome, who sighed into the mic and danced his famous jig. The most popular hairstyle was a quiff above the forehead.

Rebellious spirit

Thousands of copycats emerged after the showing of The Wild One with Marlon Brando — young men ride their motorcycles, wear leather jackets, and call themselves ’tough boys.’

Sensual look and outrageous sexuality

At that time, Alain Delon was the symbol of male beauty. A tanned and athletic young man with boyish features and a sensual look of dreamy blue eyes was considered the perfect male.

Freedom of self-expression

The end of the decade was signified by hippies and psychedelic rock. Jim Morrison, the front man of The Doors, was perfectly charming with his unique charisma and deep lyrics. Just one look at him and girls felt wild sexual ecstasy and young men went for outrageous deeds.

Pumping iron

While hippies conquer the world and men are not discernible from women, Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes sevenfold Mr. Olympia. Ladies go crazy; gentlemen get jealous, give a standing ovation, and go to do some training.

Athletic beauty

Baywatch becomes one more reason to try sports, although now the spotlight is on athletic men with a smooth suntan, prominent muscles, and, of course, red shorts.

The ’90s was the era of grunge rock music that gave birth to a new generation of people who didn’t care what they wore and how they looked. Just look at Kurt Cobain, the star of Nirvana! His careless attitude, however, didn’t stop him from being really handsome and driving thousands of fans crazy.

Metrosexual millennium

The era of metrosexuality. David Beckham becomes the perfect man, a professional soccer player having all the attributes of an alpha male — the six-pack, professional haircut, and expensive clothes.

Careless hipsters

The hipster movement is taking the world by storm. Easy carelessness, beards, vintage clothes, slender or athletic shape, checkers or stripes, eyeglasses, tattoos, and a jaunty look — and here you go, your perfect male is ready. Especially if it’s Ryan Gosling.


A beard and long hair tied at the top gain growing popularity. This trend is so powerful and omnipresent that it’s even got a name — lumbersexuality.

Preview photo credit prideofgypsies / Instagram


Get notifications

Related Reads