Many a child of the 1970s and 1980s made the subconscious association between a full head of hair and virile masculinity. The lustrous and finely coiffed manes sported by the icons of the era (Mr John Travolta, Mr Richard Gere... even Mr David Hasselhoff) sent out a very clear message to those young, impressionable minds: the bigger the hair, the more alpha the male.
The inevitability of losing one's hair can therefore trigger a personal crisis of epic proportions, crippling that once irrepressible confidence and strong sense of identity. Worse yet, a shower floor covered in hair can make any good man fall into a spiral of denial, one that is often punctuated with a series of inexcusable follicular faux pas (see "the comb-over", "comb-over + ponytail" combo or "concealing a sunroof with a tin of shoe polish" - we're looking at you, Mr David Gest).
The unfortunate truth is that no matter how sophisticated grooming products get or how contrived your styling tricks become, there is nothing you can do about your genes. That's not an excuse for self-pity, though. Whether you're lumped with a receding hairline or a fully exposed dome, the best thing you can do is remember the good times and embrace your scalp as it is. The sooner any man makes the transition from vanity to self-validation, the better. And who knows, it might be your most distinguished look yet.
SOME COMMON MISTAKES...
A rule of thumb: grown men should never style their hair as they did in their twenties, even if they still have an enviously full barnet. Guys with thinning hair who insist on using wet-look gel to part, spike and "mess up" their style are only exposing more scalp and encouraging ridicule. Cease and desist.
Sporting a comb-over is like trying to hide an elephant behind a squirrel. It's just not fooling anybody. And if you're combining it with a ponytail, hair dye, questionable facial hair (see below) or a convertible Porsche, you really need to stop, breathe and take a long, hard look at yourself. You'd be doing yourself and anyone within eyeshot a favour by just accepting yourself the way you are. Besides, rocking a "power doughnut", as the term has been coined, seems to work pretty well for Mr Bruce Willis, Mr Ed Harris, Mr Sean Connery et al.
While sporting a goatee is a tactical form of distraction (see Step 4), rocking a 'tache styled on mid-1990s Prince or a Victorian muscleman's chinstrap will have the opposite effect. Keep it simple, keep it clean.
For an unfortunate number of men, thinning hair is the top of a slippery slope that leads to total aesthetic demise. Hair loss is often swiftly followed by a gluttony-induced paunch, slap-dash grooming and total sartorial negligence. In their willing surrender to genetics, these men throw out the baby with the bathwater and simply let themselves go. Looking as if you're unkempt is only acceptable if you happen to be extraordinarily intelligent or are one of those "ironic" millionaire hipsters.