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Woman with bob-cut with finger-waves, c.

A "bob cut" is a short haircut for men and women in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about jaw-length, often with a fringe (or 'bangs") at the front.

Although a few "advanced" women had worn short hair even before World War I the style was given impetus by the inconvenience of long hair to girls engaged in war work. Made internationally popular by American film star Colleen Moore in the early 1920s, it was then 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 waiting outside their shops, waiting to be shorn of hair that had taken many years to grow.

By the mid 1920s, the style (in various versions, sometimes 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. Close-fitting, bell-shaped hats ("Cloche" hats) had also become very popular, and couldn't be worn with long hair. Well-known bob-wearers were actresses Louise Brooks, Clara Bow and Joan Crawford, as well as Dutch film star Truus van Aalten.

As the 1930s approached, women started to grow their hair longer, and the sharp lines of the bob were abandoned.

1960s and beyond

In the 1960s, 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 Carolyn Jones, 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 1980s, Siouxsie Sioux, lead singer of Siouxsie & the Banshees and Corinne Drewery singer of Swing Out Sister, had a bob cut for a short time. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue since 1988, apparently had hers trimmed every day (Times 2, 10 July 2006). In the early 1990s Cyndi Lauper had a bob haircut with very unusual colors, and then identified with Uma Thurman in the film Pulp Fiction in 1994.

2000s revival

In 2006 the bob was adopted by the singer Madonna and, as a move away from boho-chic, by actress Sienna Miller.

In November 2005, Canadianmarker ice dancer Kristina Lenko was asked to join ITV1's new series, "Dancing on Ice." Needing something shorter than her then waist length cut, she went to her stylist in Torontomarker and told him "Do whatever you like." The result was an asymmetric Bob cut, which has since been heavily copied. Popularity of the cut in the UK and Ireland can be traced to the influence of fashion icon and ex Spice Girl Victoria Beckham having had her hair bobbed in the same style, with girls asking hairdressers for a "Pob" - Ms Beckham's nickname Posh Spice conflated with "bob."

In 2007 R&B singer Rihanna had a bob haircut in the video for "Umbrella". She has stated that she got her inspiration from Charlize Theron in Æon Flux.Keira Knightley had a bob in her short TV ad for Coco Mademoiselle.Actress Christina Ricci also had a bob for live-action movie version for 60s anime series Speed Racer and later onwards.

At her third show in Brisbanemarker, Australia, Britney Spears wore the bob throughout her concert.


  • Chinese bob: Cut at the neckline, bobbed up around the edge.
  • "A-line bob": A typical "bob" cut, with slightly longer hair in front, cut in an asymmetrical style. Made popular by Victoria Beckham known as the A-line bob as it is layered in at the back, it is originally around the shape of the face but has many variations, including the dramatic "buzzcut bob" where it is shoulder-length at the front and crew-cut at the back.
  • Pageboy: is slightly different from the bob, but is also acknowledged as a type of bob. Hair is usually worn straight and could go as long as shoulder-length. The fringe is cut at or above the height of the eyebrows.

See also


  1. The Times, Friday, Jul 28, 1911; pg. 8; Issue 39649; col A. A writer covering events at The Universal Races Congress, a multiracial event held in London, remarked on the offbeat appearance of the British delegates: "Whether the representatives of other countries are on the whole normal or abnormal I cannot say; but it is plain that the Anglo-Saxons here are not representatives of the man in the street...There are men with long hair, women with short hair;.."
  2. The Times, Tuesday, Nov 21, 1916; pg. 15; Issue 41330; col G An Englishwoman driving ambulances in Romania wrote: "We have discarded skirts and live in riding breeches, blouse, tunic, boots, and putties(sic); no hat and short hair is so comfortable."
  3. The Times, Monday, Aug 05, 1918; pg. 10; Issue 41860; col E Article headed 'The Girl On The Farm':"The "bobbed" hair of many of the land girls and their smocks answer this description.".
  4. Mahogany Hairdressing, London. " The bob-haircut pages" Accessed July 6, 2007

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