Lumbersexuals channel a masculine vibe
In recent years, the lumberjack look has come back into style. This is particularly true in urban areas, where men hoping to channel a rugged vibe have made “woodsy” super trendy.
It’s caught on in Hollywood too, with stars like Ryan Reynolds and Chris Pine have been seen clad in leather boots and checkered plaid.
Guys who dress this way even have their own classification: lumbersexuals.
You may be wondering what is a lumbersexual? Is it for real? Well, hang tight because I’m about to tell you – plus a whole lot more.
FYI: As you continue reading this guide, bear in mind that I will use terms like lumberjack and lumbersexual interchangeably. Doing so allows me to help draw you a mental picture.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- A brief history of lumberjacks
- The definition of a lumbersexual
- Key characteristics of lumbersexuals
- How to grow and shape a lumbersexual beard
- Best lumberjack type flannel shirts
- Denim ideas for lumbersexual look
- Lumberjack boot options
- The best woodsy cologne scents
- Lumberjack knife options
- Ideas for lumbersexual accessories
No conversation about lumbersexuals can happen unless we understand what fueled their inspiration. Specifically, I’m talking about frontiersman know as lumberjacks.
Here’s some quick history.
Lumberjacks are men (and women) who are employed in the logging industry and responsible for harvesting and transporting trees. Thanks to their labor intensive work, they help make possible many of the products you use every day. Examples include paper, medicine, furniture, adhesives and even clothing.
In truth, the term lumberjack is a bit of a throwback to a bygone era in America, just prior to 1945. You see back then, men who harvested trees did so without the benefit of machinery. Instead, they used hand tools and sheer muscle.
Yep, that’s right. There were no gas powered buzz saws. No electric cutters. No diesel shredders. Nothing.
That’s why so many of them were built like brick shit houses. That happens when you are lifting timber all day. Talk about an intense upper body workout!
In fact, the popular “Tough Mudder” endurance event was in part inspired by the iconic lumberjacks for this very reason.
Lumberjacks Gave Us Lumbersexuals
In the peer reviewed journal, Historian an article penned by Adam Tomczik speaks to the nomenclature of men employed in the logging industry of the time period.
To be a lumberjack meant working in dangerous, life threatening situations where the hours were long and conditions brutal.
While many romanticize lumberjacks, it’s important to keep in mind the realities of their work. These men labored for hours outdoors in all sorts of weather, including fierce rainstorms, blinding blizzards and scorching heat.
What’s more, the pay for this type of work was ridiculously low. For shelter, the men stayed in primitive forms of housing; like broken down cabins and makeshift tents.
What eventually emerged from the lumberjack culture of the era was an emphasis on masculinity, fearlessness and a strong resistance to modernization.
Inspired by this rugged and outdoorsy approach to living, lumbersexuals were born.
Lumbersexual Key Characteristics
Before we move into the best way to achieve the logger look, let’s do a quick review of key lumbersexual characteristics. Here are some universal traits:
- Has some type of facial hair.
- Flannel shirt that’s usually checkered plaid.
- Denim jeans or overalls.
- Construction boots made of leather.
- Sometimes carries a pocket knife.
- Commonly an urban dweller but not always
- Usually independent minded
- Likes channeling a masculine, classic vibe
- May wear cologne with a woodsy scent
I’m going to walk you through several of these characteristics in detail. I’ll also give you styling ideas to help you get your groove on.
If your goal is to get the lumbersexual look going, you are going to need to grow some facial hair. This doesn’t mean you have to have a long, scraggly beast that hangs from your face. But you will need some type of growth.
In the modern era, many guys going for the outdoorsy look opt for something short. Try growing out the hair on your face for at least five days and see how it looks.
If possible, avoid shaving any of it because you are going to need the full monte for shaping and trimming later.
Once you’ve got a decent amount of stubble going, you can then move about the business of styling it however you like. I do have a couple of suggestions here for you to think about.
Beard Style and Shape
Once your beard is grown out, it’s time to shape and trim. The trick here is to blend in the hair above the jawline. Then, from the midface area down to the neck, shape and trim your beard so that it’s even. The video above offers an excellent blueprint for trimming and shaping.
For blending and styling, choose a trimming tool that offers adjustable settings. One of the best ones on the market is Norelco’s 3500 Beard Trimmer.
I like it because it is easy to use and doesn’t require a bunch of gadgets to work. You literally dial the cutting length to your desired length and that’s it.
I’ve used this one years and can tell you it’s an excellent grooming device.
The hallmark of a masculine face is a square jawline. If you don’t plan on growing a full length beard and instead want something short and “stubbly”, I recommend going for a square jaw cut.
This is easy to achieve. Simply shape the facial hair under your chin in a straight line. Blend in the hair from the right and left side of your jaw in an angle, using the same cutting length from your trimmer.
Pretty easy, right?
Shaving Above Jawline
After you have trimmed and shaped, you are going to want to get rid of the excess hair above your jawline and below the neckline. This is critical if you want to have a crisp, manly look.
Use a high quality razor, like the Viking Blade safety razor. This one is great for sensitive skin and helps to avoid unsightly bumps.
You can use the shaving cream of your choice but if you want a woodsy, rugged scent, consider using Viking’s cedar sandalwood cream. It goes on light and allows for a smooth, close shave. You can get this in some stores and on Amazon when in stock.
By the way, be sure to read this short guide on men’s face care so that you keep the skin around your beard looking healthy and fresh.
Color Your Beard If Needed
Men who want to look like a lumberjack are really trying to channel a masculine, rugged look. And nothing says vitality more than a solid colored beard.
If your facial hair is patchy or if you are seeing lots of greys popping up, don’t be afraid to color it. This is an extremely easy thing to do.
Just grab a box of Just for Men from your local pharmacy or on Amazon (check for pricing). Make sure you match your natural color to what you purchase.
Tip for guys with dark brown facial hair: your best bet is color M55 (real black). If you go for the anything darker, it may come off as looking fake.
Use a Beard Brush with Beard Oil
Once you have everything shaped and styled to your liking, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your lumbersexual beard. For this step, all you’ll need is a beard brush and some beard oil.
There are lots of products on the market to choose from. For the oil, my own preference is Gentleman’s Beard Oil. You just need a few drops.
It does a fantastic job of helping keep your facial hair going in the same direction. The oil also conditions your beard and makes the hair soft. Check Amazon for pricing.
The next thing you’ll want to grab is a beard brush. Using this type of grooming tool will help your facial hair look sharp and well-maintained. Opt for something with boar bristles, like Viking’s smooth beard brush.
I use both of these products and know many men that do as well. Seriously, I highly recommend!
Personally, I like the classic, red and black checkered plaid. If you dig this too, you’ll be very happy with JC Distro’s plaid longline flannel. The shirt screams lumberjack.
This one is perfect for a casual get together with close friends, a first date or simply tooling around the house. It’s lighter than other flannels and allows for movement. Some guys wear an undershirt underneath. Others don’t.
The choice is yours.
If you need something heavier that has the logger look, you can get a woodsman quilted shirt jacket from Legendary Whitetails. I like this one because the color scheme is traditional with white, black and red checkers.
This is a good choice for a cool fall day or an evening where temperatures start to dip into single digits. Because I live in Chicago, I find myself wearing this one a lot during winter.
Quick side note: Remember that when you buy an all-cotton product, it is likely going to shrink. Something to think about as you figure out which shirt works best for your needs.
Denim for Lumbersexuals
Let’s talk about denim and the type of jeans you that work best for the lumbersexual vibe. Everyone has their favorites and most guys will do just fine with a standard pair of Levi’s bootcut jeans.
Keep in mind that loggers often wore lose fitting denim to remain comfortable during intense manual labor. They also preferred clothing that was durable.
If you really want something that looks authentic while achieving style, Diesel’s regular bootcut is a smart choice. These come a bit faded, offering a cool, well-worn look.
The stitching is solid and will last the test of time. You’ll also find that this particular jean will eventually shape to your body and feels soft.
Lumbersexual Boot Options
There are more choices for men’s boots than I can shake a stick at. But to channel the lumbersexual look, 100% leather is the way to go.
To go totally authentic, consider getting a pair of Frye Dakota Work Boots. Made of genuine leather, these boots are made tough and shout woodsman from the timbers.
Now if you want something a little more modern but still in line with the logger feel, consider a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers. These too are made from 100% genuine leather and are available in traditional black and brown.
As an aside, back in the days of old, lumberjacks didn’t wear white sox. Instead, they did their best to put on wool fabrics. The reasons are obvious; warmth and comfort.
You can get wool socks almost anywhere. Just pick something that isn’t so thick that that they prevent you from getting your boots on.
To make a special impression, you are going to need something that smells woodsy and manly. Stay away from anything that contains a flowery scent, like patchouli.
So I’ll level with you here. You can go with something as simple as Brute Aftershave, which smells crisp and comes off light. In fact, I really like Brute for this very reason.
But if you really want something that broadcasts a rich and woodsy smell, Tom Ford makes an awesome private wood blend cologne that is crazy cool. Should you buy this one, keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way.
There’s also Polo’s Supreme Oud Cologne. This one is also woodsy with a hint of cinnamon and pine. A great choice for a night out on the town or something casual.
If you recall, I mentioned one trait modern lumbersexuals usually have is a pocket knife. If that’s something you are interested in, you may be wondering what works best?
Well, if need something designed for serious work and can be used outdoors, consider the knife I discuss in this survival tent post.
If you are like most guys, you probably don’t want something gigantic. Just a small, practical knife for basic cutting. One of the best ones out there (at least to me) is made by the folks at Kershaw Ken.
I like this knife because it folds and fits nicely into a pair of jeans. It also has a high degree of utility. And the best part is that it comes with a pocket clip. This makes for easy retrieval should the need arise.
If you are looking for additional lumbersexual accessories, there’s plenty to choose from. I’ve listed a few ideas below to keep it simple:
- Black or brown wide leather belt
- Flannel hoodie
- Pine scented body soap
- Wide leather wristband (see my ultimate leather wristband guide)
- Pine scented body wash
- Old timey analogue watch
- Red or black skull cap
Just for fun, I’ve published a lumbersexual poll. It’s a straight forward set of questions designed to assess your motivations for wanting the outdoor look.
Summing Things Up
The great thing about styling yourself as a lumberjack is this form of fashion never goes out of style. It’s attractive, masculine and with just a little effort, easy to pull off.
Want to learn more about lumberjacks? Here’s a good book that gives plenty of history, including what it was like to be a lumberjack frontiersman.
I hope you found this guide useful. Thanks for taking the time to read!
References: Tomczik, A. (2008) He-men Could Talk to He-men in He-man Language”: Lumberjack Work Culture in Maine and Minnesota, 1840–1940. The Historian. Volume 70: Issue 4