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Since the early-2000s establishment of Movember—an annual fundraising competition to raise money for prostate cancer—November has come to be associated with the sprouting of mustaches where once there were none. But for serious growers of facial hair, October is the month that matters. At the World Beard and Moustache Championships, held this year in Leogang, Austria, from Oct. 2 through Oct. 4., slender Dalís will compete with bushy Imperials for the title of greatest ‘stache.
In celebration of these feats of facial hair, LIFE revisits the London Handlebar Club, which in the 1940s offered a safe space for those who sported exuberant whiskers. At meetings, members shared tips for preventing an upsweep (clip-on weights) and dealing with a mustache misshapen from sleep (sleep on your back, not your face). One particularly troublesome ailment was the “Boozer’s Droop,” a side effect of “too much immersion in alcohol during the mustache’s early development.” The cure? “Stop drinking. Short of that, shave.”
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.