It’s funny how so much can be said by the world’s smallest beard. So, what exactly does a soul patch say about a man?
A soul patch says that a man is a minimalist with his style and has nostalgia for the artistic eras of years gone by. It may also say that he has generally patchy growth elsewhere on the face and chooses a style that hides this.
That’ll see some people through, but I’m sure there are plenty of you that want to dig a whole lot deeper.
I’m going to talk through this in more detail.
Because love it or hate it – the soul patch is one of the most culturally important facial hairstyles out there.
It’s steeped in some great history and it’s worth talking about the men who choose to wear it even when it’s nowhere near as popular as it used to be.
Whether you’re deciding to grow a soul patch or you’ve already got one, you’ll probably find some serious value in what I’m about to share.
Let’s get to it.
7 Things A Soul Patch Says About A Man
They say you can tell a lot about a man from the facial hairstyle he chooses. The soul patch is no different.
1. He’s A Minimalist
Any man that chooses to adorn their face with such an intentionally small tuft of facial hair beneath their lower lip has an intense appreciation for the little things.
While there are those that endlessly chase a woodsman-esque Garibaldi, others may prefer to keep things as simple as humanly possible.
Minimalism is about doing more with less. This principle is beautifully demonstrated by the soul patch like no other facial hairstyle.
Sure, the soul patch gets its fair share of hate – it’s certainly not as popular as it used to be.
There aren’t many beard styles that are so small and yet garner such a strong reaction from people. It’s very much a “love it or hate it” style no matter how you choose to look at it.
But a minimalist knows how to ignore the detractors and follow his “less is more” principle to the bitter end, no matter how “unfashionable” it may be.
The beauty of minimalism when it comes to men’s grooming and style is that it reduces your workload.
It’s hard work maintaining a full beard. Even a full goatee requires symmetrical and neat trimming and shaping.
But minimalist styles take the thinking, time, and effort out of getting ready. The simpler your styles and grooming regimens, the more likely you are to maintain them over time.
The soul patch is no different. Yes, you’ll have to shave the cheeks, chin, and neck. Yes, you’ll have to ensure that the soul patch is reasonably symmetrical (unless you’re going for a weirder variation).
Sure, this saves time. But it also saves money. Beard grooming can be expensive – the minimalist soul patch aficionados know how to keep things cheap and simple, yet effective.
2. He Has Nostalgia For The Past
As I mentioned, soul patches are nowhere near as popular as they used to be.
In fact, it’s pretty rare to come across a man wearing a lone soul patch in Western culture these days.
Usually, they are worn as part of a fuller beard style. The goatee with soul patch is a good example.
Yes, the soul patch is neatly outlined and defined beneath the lower lip. But there is still hair on the chin and mustache area, joining to encircle the mouth.
Here, the soul patch simply forms a small part of a larger beard style as a whole.
But having a true soul patch means a single patch of hair immediately beneath the lip – this had its heyday way back in the day.
It grew popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s, with its roots tracing back to the jazz trumpeting legend Dizzy Gillespie.
Although he didn’t invent it, he popularized it like no one else, skyrocketing it into the stratosphere and embedding it into mainstream culture.
It slowly waned in popularity until a brief resurgence during the grunge movement of the 1990s. Popular TV stars of the time also chose to rock the soul patch as well.
But the turn of the new millennium wasn’t favorable to the “jazz dot”. It has steadily declined in popularity since then and shows no signs of a comeback anytime soon.
So why do some people still go for it?
A likely reason is that they have an appreciation for styles of the past. Whether you like it or not in the present day, the soul patch is a style that’s steeped in rich history.
While most men chase the fuller and thicker beard styles that are definitely in trend, others swim upstream.
They actively seek out the styles of the past and wear them with pride. Perhaps it’s a homage to a classic era. Or it may just be a dislike for the modern aesthetic.
Either way, a soul patch may say that a man has a longing for the past. Nostalgia can heavily define a man’s aesthetic if he wants it to.
3. He’s A Musician
Dizzy Gillespie popularized the soul patch, particularly among fellow jazz musicians.
But was the soul patch more than just a style? Was there a practical benefit to the “flavor saver” that people often ignore?
Indeed there was.
The mouthpieces of brass and woodwind instruments integral to the jazz scene such as trumpets and flutes can be uncomfortable resting on a shaven lower lip.
Enter – the soul patch.
A customized patch of fur tailor-made to your preferences, acting as the perfect resting spot for the mouthpiece of your trumpet, flute, saxophone, etc.
Maximum comfort, minimal irritation.
Yes, the jazz dot served a purpose in those days. For many proud soul patch wearers, it may still do that.
Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t just jazz musicians. Plenty of musicians in different genres have adopted the soul patch. Often this was for the sake of following trends, but there may well still be those who choose to rock the soul patch for practical reasons.
Musicians are a prime example of this.
4. He’s An Artist Or Poet
We’ve talked enough about how important the soul patch has been in musical circles over the last century.
In many ways, this is where the classic style found its feet.
But after a while, the infamous tuft of hair made its way from jazz circles to the beatnik poets of the ‘50s.
The soul patch, together with the beret and tinted glasses, became the hallmark of the beatnik generation’s aesthetic.
It then seeped its way into other artistic circles and became synonymous with unadulterated creativity.
The style doesn’t have quite the same level of esteem as it used to. It doesn’t quite prompt onlookers to form a non-ironic drum circle around the man as it may have done in 1954.
But seeing a soul patch in modern Western culture does still conjure up some visual imagery. It does still have that intrinsic association with art, music, poetry, and culture.
This association does often lead men to adopt the lone soul patch, even if it isn’t quite as strong of an association as it was 70 years ago.
5. He Has Patchy Growth
People often give the soul patch a hard time these days.
But it’s important to bear in mind that there are those that choose the soul patch as their beard style of choice because it’s their only choice.
Patchy growth does plague many an aspiring beardsman.
Sure, there are those that drift through the more “awkward” phases of growth without much trouble.
However, there are also plenty of men who just can’t escape the patchiness of those awkward phases no matter how long they give it.
It begs the question – is there a simpler solution than hoping that it all fixes itself one day? Is there an easier option than hoping you one day magically wake up with the thick and full beard you’ve always dreamed about?
In many ways, the easiest way to tackle patch facial hair growth is to style it out.
In other words, choose a style that completely removes the patchy areas and gives additional prominence to the areas of good growth.
The cheeks are the most notorious areas for patchy growth. They can ruin an otherwise perfectly solid full beard.
One way of countering this problem is to remove the cheek hair altogether.
The goatee is the prime example of this. It’s defined by there being hair on the chin but not on the cheeks.
For men with patchy cheeks, this is ideal. The chin and mustache areas often have fuller growth, so focusing your attention on this hair and shaving the cheeks is a simple solution to poor cheek growth.
But what about those men with generally patchy growth all over?
This can be trickier, but there are options – albeit few of them.
The soul patch zone is that tiny area immediately beneath the lower lip. It almost always has enough growth to be considered full and noticeable.
Men who have trouble growing a proper beard in the cheek, chin, and mustache area may still be desperate to consider themselves “bearded”.
Choosing the lone soul patch is a quick and simple way to achieve beardedness despite generally difficult growth all over.
As a solution, it probably won’t be to everyone’s liking. But hey – style is about options and knowing what’s available to you.
For almost everyone out there, it’s important to know that a soul patch is an option.
6. He’s Meticulous
Don’t get me wrong – the soul patch is an incredibly simple style to go for. Any beard style that’s that small is hard to get wrong.
But it isn’t all a walk in the park.
You do still need to work at it and you do need a certain level of skill and technique with a razor and trimmer to style a good one.
A lone soul patch still needs to be reasonably symmetrical and well-shaped to be considered intentional.
It’s easy to let the soul patch blend into stray tufts of hair around it, but that defeats the purpose.
The point of a soul patch is to remain isolated from the rest of the beard. This is what gives it that additional prominence.
There are plenty of beard styles that do incorporate some hair beneath the lower lip. This isn’t intentional – it’s just something that most bearded men have.
But to be considered a true soul patch, you do need to shape and define that patch of hair in order to isolate it.
This does take some dexterity with a trimmer and razor.
Not a lot. But enough to keep it neat, tidy, and (generally) symmetrical.
You’ll also need persistence and discipline to keep most of the face completely shaven. The cheeks, mustache, and chin (except for the soul patch) will be clean-shaven.
This does require a pretty meticulous trimming, shaving, and grooming regimen. It may not be as time-intensive as brushing and combing a full beard.
But in many ways, grooming a fuller beard is a lot less intricate. You can afford to snip a few hairs imperfectly without anyone noticing.
When you’re dealing with a style as small as the soul patch, you need to pay a bit more attention. Every little bit makes a difference.
7. He’s Thick-Skinned
If you’re looking to style a soul patch in this day and age you better prepare for the occasional snarky comment.
That’s the unfortunate truth of it all.
It’s kind of strange. There are plenty of trends that were popular in the early-to-mid 20th century that are still alive and kicking today. Goatees are a good example. Undercuts are back in business in the men’s hair world as well.
But the soul patch has steadily declined for the last couple of decades and it’s hard to know whether it’s ever going to really come back.
I wouldn’t ever write it off. After all, everything in men’s style and grooming is cyclical. Who knows – 20 years from now the whole world may be soul-patched.
But the soul patch seems to carry a sort of – dare I say it – stigma, these days.
I’m all for individualism and freedom of expression when it comes to style. If you want to style a soul patch, go for it – the opinions of others shouldn’t be the deciding factor for you.
But be prepared for the occasional comment, joke, or even open criticism from people you wouldn’t even expect it from. The lone soul patch just seems to garner a reaction from people. Sure, there are some who will love it. But there are plenty that won’t.
In order to wear a soul patch these days, you have to be thick-skinned. Roll with the punches. Take it on the chin.
It takes a certain type of man to buck the trend and swim upstream. Because of this, a soul patch will often say that a man is thick-skinned and knows how to take a joke.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re into it. No one else.
Plus, if you one day wake up and decide you’re not into it anymore, the solution is simply shaving it off in a matter of seconds.
Simple. That’s the beauty of the soul patch. You can be in and out of it so very, very quickly.
Although it may not have the same following as the goatee, there will always be a place for those who choose the soul patch instead.
It may be for aesthetic reasons. It may be for practical ones.
Ultimately, the soul patch is still a style that’s been around for decades. It may be on the decline, but boy has it had a great ride.