A bit on the side

You may or may not have seen the Tour de France - I only caught the odd snatch on late-night SBS - but one thing I did spot was the winner, Bradley Wiggins, and his amazing sideburns.

They are probably the best sidies I’ve seen in ages - good size, not too bushy, not too minimal and a good chestnutty colour. They’re probably not that aerodynamic but that didn’t seem to hold him back any.

"Sideburns for a man’s face shouldn’t go past the earlobe."

The tour itself never really does it for me, and with Cadel out, most of Australia was less interested than last time, but it got me thinking along different lines - how come my sideburns (and I’m a sideburn kind of a guy) are never quite so luxuriant? Never quite the right shape or size?

So what is the secret of a good sideburn, and for an office worker - how big can they get before you look too ridiculous or too rock’n’roll?

And what about trimming - mine are either too long and fluffy, or shaved back and insignificant - there has to be some way to keep them perfect. Is there special sideburn shampoo/conditioner? And how do you avoid the worst error of all - something I seem to inflict on myself all to regularly - sideburns of markedly different lengths?

I put these questions to celebrity stylist David Babaii. David, named by Vogue as “the King of Curl” has a client list that includes Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson. He’s also got his own line of hair products (more later) which, we’re told “weds his expertise in the fields of haircare and beauty with his passion for wildlife conservation”.

“It’s a wonder how Bradley’s sideburns didn’t slow him down,'' he says. "Now there’s some cool sideburns. However, in my mind, they are very '70s playboy. They’re not a length I would consider professional. Sideburns for a man’s face shouldn’t go past the earlobe and should be trimmed using guard clippers to ensure a neat and tight clipping.

"I recently worked on Brad Pitt’s hair and sideburns for Moneyball. Now there’s a man with perfect sideburns. To achieve that look, take a toothbrush - one you’re not using - and apply a small amount of moulding paste or styling clay to flatten the sideburns. Now would you look at that, I have one in the form of Fibers Molding Paste or Volcanic Ash Sculpting Clay [I told you we’d get back to the products]. And if you want to ensure your sideburns are matching, use two credit cards and level them out in the mirror.”

I tried that. With the credit cards. And it kind of worked. Kind of.

So here’s the thing. Sideburns are sort of like Goldilocks - and if I can throw some long-forgotten rock stars into the mix - they're best not too big like Duane Allman, whose sidies were so enormous they met in the middle, or too small like Midge Ure, whose were just little dark darts.

“Remember, sideburns are there to frame the face, they’re not the star attraction of the face,” David says. “A perfect sideburn should blend in with your jawline and narrow the face.

“They’re the demure accessory not the pink dress at a funeral.”

And you? The Duane, the Midge or the Bradley?