11/01/2012 01:23 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

The Iconic Mo: 8 Notorious 'Staches and the Stereotypes They've Inspired

The popularity of the mustache has waxed (ahem) and waned over the last 100 years. The 'stache is definitely back in 2012, though it is not quite as widespread a follicular expression as in Victorian times. And it has taken a while to re-emerge as the PO-MO-MO (aka post-modern mustache)-a masculine, playful yet ambiguous form of male social performance.

Impediments to growth over time have included multiple negative historical associations and projections. In One Thousand Mustaches: A Cultural History of the Mo, I refer to these as "The Three F's." Particularly in North America, the man with lip lettuce was seen to be a Fop, Foreigner, or Fiend. We can add two more F's-for Fascist (war-mongerer) and "F-kster" (aka the libidinous porn-star, gay clone or wife-swapping swinger of the seventies). The average guy did not want to run the risk of having his face "mis-read" as any of the above, so he erred on the side of either clean-shavenness or full- beardedness.

Thanks to the goatee craze of the 90's (and the endless stubble, soul-patch, sideburn and mountain-man beard experiments that soon followed), and to charitable movements like MOVEMBER, it was only a matter of time before the final furry frontier would again be celebrated. That time is now!

So many mustache styles are iconic, transcending historical layers of negativity as they invoke nostalgia, whimsy, and unparalleled creativity and masculine elegance.

Here are eight classics: