Stubble trouble

Party season's here again and summer's around the corner. A time, perhaps, when it's OK to turn up for work looking a little bit less groomed than usual? A time when a man's shaving routines can take a backseat to more important ways for a man to spend his morning? (Like sleeping off his hangover or finding his way home.)

No time to shave today, I'm going for the rugged look. The five o'clock shadow at 7.55am look. Big mistake? Quite probably.

Time was when we were a land of straitlaced, hat-wearing types, where, as one olden-days style dictator put it "it must be stated that all men are well shaved, helped by the efficiency of modern razors, electric or otherwise".

But Australia's a relaxed kind of a place now, where you can wear jeans to work on a Friday, forget about at least one of the shirt, suit, tie and shiny shoes combo and maybe get away with going to work with a couple of days' growth now and again.

So is the unshaven-at-the-office look OK these days? And does it matter what sort of work you do?

"It depends what it looks like,'' says Nicola Barnard, a Melbourne-based image consultant.

''If it's quite even and well-groomed then it may be fine but if it's a bit patchy don't bother. It's got to look like it's meant to be there.''

Barnard says that whether the five-o'clock shadow is OK also depends on the culture of the organisation you work for. Mainstream, corporate and conservative - no. Funky, fashionable and creative - yes.

A recent survey into attitudes toward facial hair - carried out for Nivea - confirms this. The survey found that 48 per cent of Australian men think it is unacceptable for chefs to have facial hair, 37 per cent think police should be clean-shaven and 31 per cent say bankers needed a smooth chin. It's OK for designers (only 13 per cent against) and sportsmen (15 per cent) to sport some stubble.


The survey also found that 40 per cent of  Australian men in full-time work and 42 per cent of those earning more than $100K think they need to  shave Monday to Friday, while letting their facial hair grow on the weekend.

So if you're in the sort of job where you should be shaving every day - ie. the corporate world - then you should keep on shaving every day, even if things seem to get less formal as summer approaches.

More relaxed types - advertising executives, cricketers and journalists - have it easier, thank goodness. But even in less uptight environments, it's better if it looks intended, rather than being just the product of laziness or too much pre-Christmas fun.

No matter what line you're in, it's possibly not the best idea in the world to turn up at the office with a face that screams "I really can't be bothered with anything today".