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Posted at 5:17 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Trend of the moment: Two-day stubble

By Katherine Boyle

Justin Timberlake and Javier Bardem wore stubble on Oscars night. (Getty)

It's man's version of the pantyhose debate, the choice our foremothers fretted over before Spanx. Should classy leading ladies go bare under couture gowns made from sheer silk and lace? Grandmothers across America would demand to see Lycra, but now it seems anything (or rather nothing) goes. Oddly enough, leading men are more prudish with their skin, covering up their silky, Gillette-sponsored jaws with the male hygiene trend of the moment.

The two-day shadow was the big winner on Sunday's red carpet. A bare face seems as passé as a control top.

Hollywood's leading man arsenal solidified the stubble on Sunday. The two-day shadow--which can take mere mortals four days to grow--has become a facial hair staple in the past few years, perhaps popularized by recession thriftiness and TSA's tight scrutiny of razorblades and shave creams.

Surrounded by gowns befitting an imperial court, it's always hard for Oscars' gentlemen to make waves with the classic tux. But whether in Burberry or Tom Ford, the men made style statements by asking, "To shave or not to shave?"

After Sunday, it's no longer a question, really.

Young shadowy figures at the Oscars included Justin Timberlake, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman's beau Benjamin Millepied. Middle-aged stars sporting two-day shadows included Javier Bardem, Hugh Jackman, Mark Wahlberg, and Robert Downey Jr. Bardem and Downey Jr. showed that salt-and-pepper shadows give the scruff a mature look.

Jude Law appeared to be attempting the stubble without much successful growth, as did a tan Matthew McConaughey.

Despite the scruff, there were some clean-shaven gentlemen, led by first-time Oscar winner Colin Firth, Josh Brolin and Geoffrey Rush. Host James Franco (surprisingly) put in some effort to shave, as did Russell Brand and Mark Ruffalo. Kirk Douglas, channeling the golden years of Hollywood, also appeared clean-shaven.

The men who played boys all shaved for their big days. "The Social Network" brat pack--Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Jesse Eisenberg--chose a conservative look, as did crazy-haired Luke Matheny, the new kid who wished he'd gone to Supercuts.

And beards? They were there, but they're hardly making a Hollywood comeback (although, word on the street is that they're cool in Brooklyn this week.) Jeff Bridges looked warm and Santa-like. Christian Bale did not, wearing his much-blogged about bristles. Darren Aronofsky, mirroring his bold cinematic choices, wore a thicker-than-pencil but cleaner-than-Selleck mustache.

More on this story:

Photos: Red carpet fashions

Full Oscars coverage

By Katherine Boyle  | March 2, 2011; 5:17 PM ET
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