Phillip Leitch, who assumes knightly duties at Ballarat's Kryal Castle.

Phillip Leitch, who assumes knightly duties at Ballarat's Kryal Castle.

Knights are making a comeback and I, for one, couldn't be happier. I've always been a sucker for the olden-day tales of derring-do and I can't wait to see Sir Twiggy Forrest and Sir John Howard armoured up and battling it out on horseback.

Unfortunately in the switch from federal to feudal, not every Australian will get a shake of ye olde sauce bottle. What can the ordinary man do? You can start, squire, by looking the part. To find out how, I turned to one of Australia's very few actual knights.

Phillip Leitch is an ex-Australian Special Forces soldier who for the past seven years has been studying and practising older ways of fighting, most recently at Kryal Castle near Ballarat. There, beneath the imposing, 40-year-old battlements, he spends his days in armour - tilting, sword fighting and generally having a whale of a time.

So what did the knights of old look like? Not as hairy or smelly as you might think. And Sir Phillip should know. Not only is he a knight by day, but he's a bit of an expert on grooming in the days of yore.

"There were two types of looks," he says. "The battle-hardened, warrior style, and the poncy, clean-shaven courtly style.

"Knights traditionally shaved once or twice a week. The castle barber shaved them and was also responsible for cuts and bruises and minor surgery.

"Later on toward the end of the Middle Ages, knights would have had a small Errol Flynn-style trimmed and styled beard.

"But most knights would have been clean-shaven with hair of a reasonable length. The richer they were, the longer their hair was. Long hair was a sign of wealth and an absence of lice.

"Some knights were so proud of their hair that they would swear oaths on it, like 'If thise be not true aye will cuteth off mine hair'."

Cleanliness is one of the key qualities for any knight. In his handy, gentleman's-pocket-sized ABC of Men's Fashion, Sir Hardy Amies - the couturier who dressed a number of Queens including our own - is insistent that men aren't cavalier about their smell.

"Men have used Eau de Cologne for centuries", Sir Hardy writes. "Men on the continent will do so freely and, in the past century, makers and defenders of the Empire were not ashamed of being regular customers of perfumers of renown."

The same was true in the Middle Ages. As Sir Phillip tells me: "Knights didn't bathe that often, maybe monthly, but they did keep their hands, feet and face clean. Cleanliness was equated with purity and perfumes were important."

Sir Phillip says that when he started at Kryal Castle, he showed his barber a picture of Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale and asked for a similar-style cut. Other role models could include some of the less-craggy knights from Game of Thrones such as Jaime Lannister or the fragrant Loras Tyrell.

So how can you achieve that knightly look in the comfort of your own home?

I asked Paul Macnamara, the head barber at Jack the Snipper in Byron Bay, and he came up with these tips that'll have you looking like every maiden's dream of the parfait knight.

The well-shaved knight

Heat a hand towel under hot water, be careful not to burn yourself and apply to face. Once skin is moist, apply your preferred shaving cream or oil.

With a clean razor, shave with the grain of the hair, not against it to avoid in-grown hairs. When finished, rinse your face with cold water to close the pores.

Apply after shave balm to keep the skin fresh and prevent razor rash.

The long-haired knight

For the long hair look, it's all about layers. Keep them long, even when it comes to the fringe. For thicker hair add some razor texturing to achieve the rough, tossed look.

The perfectly-styled knight

Thoroughly wash the hair with your preferred shampoo and rinse well. Gently using a towel, pat dry the hair without roughing it up, to keep the follicles smooth.

Then apply some conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, not the roots as this can cause a greasy look. Leave it in. This will prevent the hair becoming fly away, whilst adding shine.

For no shine, apply your preferred matte product to the mid lengths and ends of the hair.

So that's how to look like a knight. Just one more thing to sort out: chafing. Isn't all that metal plate and chain mail really uncomfortable?

"You can wear armour all day without getting too hot," Sir Phillip says. "There's plenty of padding and 'arming clothes' underneath. Good armour should be comfortable. I need to be able to ride a horse, climb a ladder and sword-fight in it - so it can't hamper movement.

"The only thing that makes it hot is the helmet."

No sores, no lice, no beards, and lovely, long hair. It's not quite what I was expecting.

And you, sirrah - what do you think? Would you fancy being a knight, even if only for one day?