I wish I knew when or where the word “bobbed” hair was first used to describe this famous 1920s hairstyle. Credit for the first appearance of the bob goes to dancer and nickelodeon film star Irene Castle in 1914. She cut her long hair because she was going into major surgery and wanted something easy to take care of while she was in recovery. But little did she know she would start such a popular hair trend.
But it was the perfect timing for societal norms to get a good kick in the pants. The Great War (WWI) was well underway and women were becoming empowered as a woman’s right to vote was gaining in popularity. The late 1910s were a major turning point for female empowerment.
- Why were people so upset?
- Even hair magazine writers hate the bob
- Names for Different types of Bobs
- Accessories to wear with your bobbed hair
- Download a high res pdf of this 1924 hair article
Why were people upset with bobbed hair?
You would not expect a simple hairstyle to be a polarizing subject… What am I saying!? OF COURSE a woman’s hairstyle was something society had to have something say about. It’s been that way since the dawn of time.
In the late 1910s and 1920s, people had very strong opinions about women chopping their hair short. Women just didn’t do that. Long hair was the Victorian ideal and the more hair you had, the more beautiful you were considered, the healthier you were perceived to be, and possibly it meant you had more money. So the rebellious action to just lop it off caused quite a stir.
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Even hair magazines don’t like the bobbed hairstyle
Case in point…an article illustrating bobbed hairstyles from my vintage 1924 issue of The American Hairdresser magazine.
The 2 pages of the article, which are mostly written to the beauty salon operator, cover several subjects around the bob in quick paragraphs.
The article is presented as a resource for operators to show their clients to help them decide what bob haircut they want and how stylists can use the bob hairstyle as a way to generate more income for the salon. But somehow it also feels like an opinion article from a point of view that is a little…well… snobby and arrogant. Haha.
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It appears that the person who wrote the article does not really think highly of the bob and is ready for it to go away. They write things like, “The shingle hair bob, anything but beautiful on a woman’s head, and the straight hair bob, too severe for beauty, could not survive.”
Bobbed Hairstyle Names in the 1920s
Here is a lovely list of the names of the different bob hairstyles in the resource image.
- Shingle, or Ina Claire Bob
- Permanently Waved Bob
- Boyish Bob
- Dutch Cut
- Horizontal Clubbed Bob
- Marcel or Water Waved Shingle
- Horizontal Tapered Bob
- French Center Part Bob
- French Side Part Bob
- Flapper Bob
- Center Part Bob
- Girlish Bob
1920s Hair Accessories
The article notes that the salon can sell these popular hair accessories that women were wearing with their bob hairstyles at the time that are also pictured above.
It reads, “Combs (reffering to decorative hair combs) and ornaments also provide a splendid revenue.”
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“The ever handy barrett is still used to some extent on bobbed hair. But bandeaux and combs are now a necessity. Small fancy combs are placed on the sides of the head, and are used to hold a strand of hair in place. Longer combs extend along the side of the head, over the crown and across the back.”
“While the bandeau is still worn principally across the forehead, the newest way of wearing this kind of ornamentation is across the back of the head, leaving the front of the coiffure without any ornament.”