10 ways to 1920s style: part one, the bob

Colleen Moore
Although the bob haircut started to be seen before the 1920s – dancer Irene Castle got her hair bobbed after an illness – it didn’t go mainstream until the second third of the 1920s. One of the biggest influences was Colleen Moore in the film Flaming Youth, based on the novel about a flapper. (And please, it's flapper', not 'flapper girl'.) Colleen’s career had been solid but not stellar; she cut her hair for the role, became a star and inspired a swathe of copycat ‘dos across the USA.

The bob wasn’t the only hairdo popular in the 1920s, and fashionable hair got shorter and shorter. Later in the decade the shingle and Eton crop were other fashionable cuts. Also many ‘nice’ girls still kept theirs long and wore it in styles imitating a bob. However, it is the iconic hairdo of the decade. The nice thing about the bob is that you can centre-part it like Louise Brooks, side part it like Colleen Moore, have it curly like Clara Bow, have a fringe, don't have a fringe…

Hints on getting your hair bobbed 
Take a photo of the sort of thing you want to your hairdresser. In my experience they have trouble understanding that you really do want it THAT short and THAT blunt. If they don’t get it and you’re lucky, they’ll give you a 60s-style bob instead. If you’re unlucky, you’ll come out with a very dull, mumsy-looking bob. Remember that photo!

The only real hassle with a bob is getting it cut regularly to keep it smart. Otherwise, as long as you pick a bob that works with your hair (don't try to look like Louise Brooks if you've got curls, don't go for a Clara Bow if your hair is poker-straight) I reckon it's the lowest-maintenance vintage 'do there is.

In need of inspiration?
Head over to the website Silent Ladies and Gents, where the gallery devoted to The Silent Flappers is packed with shots of the leading flapper stars of the 1920s from Josephine Baker to Alice White. Your bob is in there!


  1. I've always wondered about going for the chop and having a vintage style bob, but think that my jaw is too square to handle one. Its the shiny Louise Brooks style that I hanker after...

    1. I've got a 1930s book that constantly says, 'Never repeat a bad line,' by which it means don't exaggerate features you're not happy with. In my case I've got wonky eyes, so make sure I keep my fringe bone-straight to give the illusion of a straighter eyeline. I'm guessing for you you'd want to avoid a heavy, square fringe and go for a feathery one, or even a side-parted fringeless bob.

  2. Vintage Knitter...best thing is to ask your hairdresser, they generally will know what qill suit you.
    I've just had my hair chopped again to a nice short bob, i love it as it's so easy to look after!

  3. I do love a bob! Especially the shorter sharper ones. Oh, and the curly ones. Not a style which suits me. Mind you I have enough trouble convincing hairdressers that by white hair, I mean WHITE, not yellow.


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