I can see Leitch's point where he says "Stubble was for pouting, knitwear-sporting continentals, while an unfettered facial flourishing was for ecological protestors and other antisocial elements" as in recent years facial hair has been up against it. How different from the Victorian era, when beards - a mark of wisdom, gravitas, moral rigour, imperial paternalism, you name it - were de rigueur in England. The emergence of a number of celebrities opting to grow bards has reassured the general public that it is again fine to put down that razor. No longer is the beard an object of feminine disgust, masculine ridicule and universal suspicion. That said in some circles full beards have been seen as an emblem of masculinity, an advertisement of one's importance, competence or integrity. Sir William Golding without his beard looked like an awkward chemistry teacher; with it, he was King Lear. An aged Sean Connery without facial hair would still be a good-looking man, but his pointy white chin makes him regal, noble, a grizzled knight worthy of respect.
This is the beard Bond would have grown had he retired from the service. Neat and tidy but not obsessively so, it has charm, maturity and manliness written all over it.