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Style 101: The Bob

by kieran / last updated February 16, 2022

The bob by Akin Konizi

The bob never goes out of fashion – it’s a classic with a version to suit every face type and lifestyle, which is why we’re taking it on in our latest Style 101 series entry. For this month, modern maestro of the style and international creative director with HOB Academy, Akin Konizi, looks at its enduring status and how to create this iconic look.

Where Did the Bob Come From?

The bob has been around, in one form or another, since the 1890s, gaining mainstream status in the 1920s, when silver screen stars including the iconic Louise Brooks sported the style. The bob became a symbol of rebellion and a rejection of what was traditionally considered feminine.

The cut lost its revolutionary edge during the 50s and 60s when it was adopted by wholesome stars such as Doris Day, when it was more set and dressed. Then, along came Vidal Sassoon. In 1963, Sassoon re-invented the style as something much less formal, with a blow dry rather than a set. 

The popularity of Sassoon’s creation ensured the bob stayed around, with others adopting it to suit their style — even new-wave star Debbie Harry wore a layered version of the iconic cut during the late 70s.

 

Where Is It Today?

Today, the bob is firmly in the mainstream again, with 2022 seeing a re-emergence of the layered bob as well as some of the style’s earlier incarnations. A-listers opting for a bob include Kourtney Kardashian, who has been rocking a textured look; Penelope Cruz, who has opted for a longer, face framing style and Jennifer Lopez who recently stunned on the red carpet with a clavicle grazing blonde bob. 

The reason for its popularity is a progression of longer hair. It is not as drastic as cutting layers but enough of a change to make you feel like you have a new hairstyle. Add a fringe and your long hair is on its way to being a very fashionable hairstyle.

 

How to Create Multiple Styles of Bob

There are several versions of this look – when a style has been around for this long it evolves.

The classic bob style is one length all around the head, and is typically chin length. There are no layers in the classic bob — this is a more modern development. The shape can be blunt cut or, if you want to create a softer finish, point cut. It can be cut with graduation, no graduation or reverse graduation. This will also affect the outline shape of the style to softer to harder. 

The square bob has the same shape as its classic counterpart but with a square, strong fringe. It was popular in the 80s and is making a comeback. 

A much more contemporary twist is the inverted bob, which is shorter at the back and longer through the front and features a tapered back with slightly layered, either square or rounded, for a curved finish. This one breaks the rules, as the longer length at the front has always been considered the sexiest element of a bob.

The graduated bob is created with stacked layers through the back giving the style it’s trademark curved finish.

 

Top tips for the perfect bob

  • All bob lines should start at the centre back and end at the front. 
  • You want to achieve one continuous flowing line, with no joins, and typically the last hair at the front of the line should be the longest, unless you are creating a square bob. 
  • A classic bob relies on the ability to cut super-straight lines — this means not only a steady hand but a very sharp pair of scissors.
  • Before you start your line at the back work out how long you want the longest piece at the front to frame the face to be, and cut the back accordingly so you have a continuous line from centre back to the longest piece at the front.  
  • If you don’t like the outline shape, then potentially you have to start all over again and start at the back and finish at the front. Don’t just take lumps out of it and hope for the best! 

No no’s

Don’t take out too much weight in the layers in order to maintain the swing and natural fall of the bob. 

Don’t miss our last edition of Style 101… the shag cut!

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