I love Imperial beard, which is also known as Friendly Mutton Chops. Take this for an example:

enter image description here

Source: Maria Ly, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is a another gentleman that more people can relate to:

enter image description here General Ambrose Burnside (United States)

Source: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I love to wear it sometimes, maybe once a year for a few days? Where I come from people don't have those beard styles anymore. Everyone relates them to the old times and that British people loved them back then.

On an upcoming visit to Edinburgh,Scotland and London,England I'd love to wear my beard that way. I find that beard extremely graceful. Is there any general disliking associated with it in the UK? I wouldn't wish to become a laughing stock or to draw some ire/snark. I'm in my early thirties and don't look even remotely as good as those gentlemen in the pictures.

I'm perfectly fine with a glance or two, and even a small talk about it if somebody likes to. I just don't wish to attract too much negative attention for all the wrong reasons.

  • 9
    Lots of people wearing a variety of beard styles in London so you won't be especially noticeable. It's possible you'll draw some snark, but not very likely. Can I assume you won't be wearing that outfit? – user16259 May 15 at 17:33
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    Just FYI - from now on if I ever need to refer to you in a comment it'll be as "@FriendlyMuttonChops" ... ;) – brhans May 15 at 17:39
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    That beard immediately made me think of Lemmy from Motörhead. He was English. Perhaps you should revise their back catalogue. So it's not completely unknown (and I've seen it in England/Wales recently -- the latter even paired with a man-bun). – Chris H May 15 at 20:51
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    I’ve not seen that particular style, but lots of old-fashioned beard styles have been popular again for the last 5–10 years or so in the UK (and in many other countries) — it’s one of the core “hipster” fashion trends. – PLL May 15 at 22:43
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    Look, in London you could dress like a martian for all anyone would care - blue skin, antennae, opalescent sequined space suit, whatever. Nobody will look at you twice or say anything unless you start acting like a jackass (jumping queues, blocking the left of an escalator, "making conversation" on the tube...). Edinburgh... they might just think you're from Aberdeen or something. – J... May 16 at 10:47
up vote 111 down vote accepted

As a British person, I don't think I've ever seen somebody with a beard like that. Some drunk people might be snarky about it but my guess is that you'll get much more attention from people who think it's cool and almost none from people who want to be shitty about it.

If you're in the UK in August, the 2018 British Beard and Moustache Championships will be in Blackpool on 18th August.


So, er, a confession. The above was posted in good faith and was accurate at the time of posting. Today, after getting 101 votes, a gold badge, three silver badges, a bronze badge and 645 reputation, I saw somebody in the UK with "friendly mutton chops", albeit somewhat less flamboyant ones than the photos in the question. In fact, it was somebody in my own place of work. However, I stand by the rest of my answer. I thought his beard was cool. Nobody was being shitty about it. The Beard and Moustache Championship is still on.

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    I've never seen the beard cage door in person. OP - wear your friendly mutton chops and go drink some tea! – Raystafarian May 15 at 21:58
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    I just had to upvote your answer for pointing out that the Beard and Moustache Championships are coming up. Fantastic. – Kodos Johnson May 16 at 0:09
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    If you visit a typically 'poor' area you might encounter the occasional band of roving chavs who might monkey around with you, ask questions, want to touch it, maybe take a photo - but by and large they're benign and mean no harm, they hope you'll jest with them. – Vix May 16 at 8:52
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    Depends where you go. If you live in London, being the city as multicultural as it is, I am quite sure any beard style you can find, someone already is wearing it. – Ander Biguri May 16 at 10:10
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    @DarrenBartrup-Cook OK, so it looks like every building in England contains at least one of these beards and the asker will be disappointed by the completely underwhelming reaction he receives. ;-) – David Richerby May 18 at 14:21

In the UK any larger town or city you will go about invisible, the smaller the community the more you would stand out... ie a town of a few thousand then you will look different. I have a beard and dress quite well (some might call me a hipster) and live in a town of a few 10's of thousands, I do stand out a little at times depending on the area, but other people also dress well so I only get attention from the odd idiot/drunk. If I go to London/Bristol I look scruffy or the same compared to the way others dress and I am invisible. When I go to visit my mum in her tiny town I either dress down or am content to stand out like a sore thumb.

That type of beard is mostly seen on older men, although I have known people in their 20s with that type of beard, as far as I can tell it's not seen as a bad thing, it's just not something you see very often.

Go ahead, have your beard how you want, it's your beard, be proud!

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    Welcome to the site, Great first answer! +1 – Hanky Panky May 17 at 6:13

My friend has a beard very similar to that, he's lived in the UK for years (and also southern Africa). You don't see it that often, and it tends to be with older men - but it's not completely out there, even in relatively small towns.

The only time I'd expect any kind of comment is late at night, where people have been drinking. Even then, it's more likely to be a compliment than an insult, I'd have thought. I think it looks pretty cool.

I think the only kind of beard that would possibly get you any hostility in the UK is something that looks "Islamic" (thick, long beard mostly around the bottom of the face below the mouth, moustache is absent or not prominent) for reasons around religious tension and associations with terrorism. Anything other than that is either going to be seen as amusing or just ignored.

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    Around 3% of the UK population identifies as Muslim. While I don't deny that there is some racism around, your answer seems to be suggesting that looking like a Muslim is likely to draw a hostile reaction. If people were reacting with hostility to 3% of the population, it would be impossible to walk down the street without seeing acts of violence. – David Richerby May 18 at 14:26
  • @DavidRicherby not every Muslim has such a beard, it tends to be only the more devout ones, and therefore more likely to be an extremist in the eyes of many. And it doesn't have to be an act of violence to be hostile. A suspicious glare, a few muttered words, or perhaps some verbal abuse from the more inebriated or intolerant. – Crazymoomin May 18 at 19:01

Does it attract ire? I would be very surprised if it did. It's maybe not mainstream, but most people have seen re-enactors, and many may well have seen steampunks, both of whom wear a bewildering and delightful range of facial hair.

In fact, if there are any steampunk events on near you while you are in the UK, you would be more than welcome, and your friendly mutton chops would look great paired with a steampunk outfit :)

  • Cool, thanks for your answer! – Hanky Panky May 18 at 15:41

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