Hair Tutorial: Quick and Easy Hairstyles for Short Hair (Bob)
A bob cut or bob is a short haircut for women (and occasionally men) in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about the level of the jaw-level, often with a fringe (or “bangs”) at the front.
Historically, women in the west have usually worn their hair long. Although young girls, actresses and a few “advanced” or fashionable women had worn short hair even before World War I —for example in 1910 the French actress Polaire, (right) is described as having “a shock of short, dark hair,” a cut she adopted in the early 1890’s—the style was not considered generally respectable until given impetus by the inconvenience of long hair to girls engaged in war work. English society beauty Lady Diana Cooper, who had had bobbed hair as a child, kept the style through her teenage years and continued in 1914 as an adult. Renowned dancer and fashion trendsetter Irene Castle introduced her “Castle bob” to a receptive American audience in 1915, and by 1920 the style was rapidly becoming fashionable. Popularized by film stars Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks in the early 1920’s, it was still seen as a somewhat shocking statement of independence in young women, as older people were used to seeing girls wearing long dresses and heavy Edwardian-style hair. Hairdressers, whose training was mainly in arranging and curling long hair, were slow to realise that short styles for women had arrived to stay, and so barbers in many cities found lines of women outside their shops, waiting to be shorn of hair that had taken many years to grow.
Although as early as 1922 the fashion correspondent of The Times was suggesting that bobbed hair was passé, by the mid-1920’s the style (in various versions, often worn with a side-parting, curled or waved, and with the hair at the nape of the neck “shingled” short), was the dominant female hairstyle in the Western world. The style was spreading even beyond the West, as women who rejected traditional roles adopted the bob cut as a sign of modernity. Close-fitting cloche hats had also become very popular, and couldn’t be worn with long hair. Well-known bob-wearers were actresses Clara Bow and Joan Crawford, as well as Dutch film star Truus van Aalten.
As the 1930’s approached, women started to grow their hair longer, and the sharp lines of the bob were abandoned.
The shingle bob is a short hairstyle for women, introduced in 1924. Below a dome-shaped bob cut, the hair at the neck is razor cut very short in a v-shape. It is also commonly referred to as a “graduated bob.”
1960’s and beyond
In the 1960’s, Vidal Sassoon made it popular again, using the shape of the early bob and making it more stylish in a simpler cut. Its resurgence coincided with the arrival of the “mop top” Beatle cut for men. Those associated with the bob at that time included the fashion designers Mary Quant and Jean Muir, actresses Nancy Kwan, Carolyn Jones, Barbara Feldon and Amanda Barrie, and singers as diverse as Keely Smith, Cilla Black, Billie Davis, Juliette Gréco, Mireille Mathieu and Beverly Bivens of the American group We Five. Many styles and combinations of the “bob” have evolved since. In the late 1980’s, Siouxsie Sioux, lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Corinne Drewery, singer of Swing Out Sister, had bob cuts for a short time. Singer Linda Ronstadt sported a very “Louise Brooks” inspired bob on the cover of two Grammy award winning albums in the late 1980’s. 1987’s Trio album with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris and her 1989 release Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind. She also wears the cut in the video for her duet with James Ingram, Somewhere Out There. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue since 1988, apparently had hers trimmed every day (Times 2, 10 July 2006). In the early 1990’s Cyndi Lauper had a bob haircut with very unusual colors; soon afterwards, the cut became identified with Uma Thurman’s character of Mia Wallace in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction. In the mid to late 1990s, T-Boz of TLC also had a bob haircut with very unusual colors that was asymmetrical with bangs. Also, for the first two seasons and the first two episodes of the third season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the character of Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher) had a trademark bob haircut. Also, in Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1997 film Men in Black, the character of Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) also sported a bob.