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What Is a Bob Haircut?

A hairstylist cutting a short bob.
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  • Written By: Lauren B. Parks
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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In general, a bob haircut is a blunt cut that is level with the bottom of the ears all the way around the head. There are many varieties of bob haircuts, but they typically are worn either with bangs or with the hair swept across or off the forehead. A bob haircut is considered to look good on many face structures and to work with many textures of hair. This look comes in and out of fashion often, generally re-entering with a new and interesting twist.

Highly Fashionable

Women have worn short hair ever since they began imitating the Roman Emperor Titus, and possibly before that, but the greatest popularity of this fashion came about during the First World War. In 1915, female ambulance drivers utilized the bob haircut for reasons of convenience and sanitation. For this reason, the cut became highly fashionable among French women.

Popularity Boom

It wasn’t until 1918, when Irene Castle, a renowned ballroom dancer, donned a bob haircut, that it became hugely successful in the United States. The Castle bob dramatically changed the look of female youths during the 1920s. Many young women readily accepted the chance to shed their long, feminine locks in favor of the daring, dangerous bob haircut. In cutting their hair, women felt that they gained some measure of independence and equality with men. The instantaneous attachment to the haircut foreshadowed significant changes in Western society that came about during the 1920s.

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At one time, women could get bob haircuts only at barbershops; some cities reported women waiting in lines outside shops, even lounging on the floor, waiting for their turn under the shears. The the bob haircut also propelled a new industry in the United States. The number of hairdressing shops in the U.S. is believed to have more than quadrupled from 1920-1924.

A More Severe Hairstyle

The shingle bob came into existence in 1923 and was a more severe take on the bob haircut. In a true shingle bob, the hair tapers to a “V” at the nape of the neck, and the sides are either waves or curls. This version of the bob haircut often had some people lamenting that, from the back, it was difficult to tell whether a person was a male or a female.

Early Objections

Despite its popularity, not everyone accepted the new hairstyle. Queen Mary of England requested that all ladies at court functions would hide their short hair. Some employers forced employees to grow their hair long again or fired women who had bobbed hair. Some women kept the pieces of their long hair after it had been cut to use as hairpieces that made their hair look long again.

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LittleMan
Post 3

@pharmchick78 -- With your hair and face shape, you should be able to pull off pretty much any type of bob. Once you decide on the length, you can narrow it down to a specific style. If you want to spice things up a bit, you could try adding bangs, or getting the bob layered -- that way you can style it when you want a change, but don't have to mess with it all the time.

pharmchick78
Post 2

I'm considering getting a bob but am not sure what kind would look good on me. I have a pretty average oval shaped face, with straight, normal-thickness hair. I want something fairly easy to care for, but not boring. Any budding hairstylists out there have some thoughts?

EarlyForest
Post 1

There are a lot of different kinds of bobs too -- angle bobs, short bobs, long bobs, asymmetrical bobs, even inverted bobs. That's one of the things I love about this hairstyle; there really is a variation for everyone.

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