01/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Laid-Off Men Going Shaggy, Growing Beards

The Wall Street Journal reports that facial hair is showing up on some unlikely faces: those of laid-off corporate executives.

It's one of those tiny luxuries unleashed by unemployment, a time when people are briefly released from workaday habits and may wish to take stock of their lives before setting out anew. Al Gore grew a beard after losing the tumultuous presidential election of 2000. Neatly trimmed, it looked cozy and anti-establishment as he pursued creative projects on his way to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Scott Berger, a 35-year-old investment analyst, stopped shaving in October after being laid off from hedge fund Laurus Capital Management. "It's something you can't do in the corporate world," he says. He does, however, cut his facial hair closely with a beard trimmer, pledging, "I'm not ever going to look like a lumberjack."

It's been a big year for facial hair. In many ways, 2008 was the year of the mustache (see photos) and, of course, political beards abounded (see more photos).