Irrespective of hair texture or tone, one haircut has persevered throughout history as an enduring, enviable staple that can suit everyone. We’re of course referring to the perennially-chic bob hairstyle.
In a post-pandemic world taking the plunge and getting the great cut by chopping off massive lengths from your locks isn’t just a trend, but a movement.
This year, though the return to a lower-maintenance, shoulder-length style arguably has been bubbling up from the surface ever since Zendaya traded her waist-grazing tresses for something more feature-defining, the bob has been reclaimed as the look du jour.
When Hailey Bieber parted ways with her cascading mane in January this year, she ushered in a slew of A-listers who followed suit in getting the big chop. Kourtney Kardashian, Elsa Hosk, Lily Aldridge, Olivia Palermo…we could continue, but a fully exhaustive list would deviate from the point at hand: why has the bob hairstyle persisted as a covetable cut, where other styles die on the salon floor?
On TikTok alone, the hashtags #bobhaircut and #goingshort boast over 706.3 and 3.4 million views, respectively. Number that have only exacerbated after the release of Beckham, with Posh Spice’s expensive-looking cropped cut further reviving vigour for the hairstyle.
Is the style proliferating social media and the streets of Hollywood merely another example of guerrilla influencer marketing?
Seriously, whoever is doing PR for “the bob” deserves a spot in the publicist hall of fame, alongside the people who do the comms for oat milk and ballet flats.
Or, is the answer something far simpler, with the reason the bob becoming a chic staple look is that it’s just that: perpetually chic.
To help break down the mystique behind the bob—in all of its many variations—leading haircut and colourist Jaye Edwards, EdwardsAndCo’s founder, colourist and cutter of one of the original viral bobs (the Binglebob), and Nina Lee, founder of Sydney’s leading creative hair specialist studios Extra Silky, break down why the bob has come back in full force in 2023, and the real reason why the bob has lived on.
Why Is The Bob So Popular?
Simple answer: it’s a style beloved by hair specialists. “The bob is my favourite cut!” revealed Lee over email from her Petersham salon.
Compared to the shapes and styles hairdressers have in their arsenal, you may think that a bob may be on the easier side. However, it’s not just about the simplicity literally and figuratively shedding your hair, but the overall transformation a bob provides.
“The bob is the ultimate reinvention hairstyle,” Edwards noted. “When anyone needs a fresh look the bob is a go-to cut. It is blunt and bold, representing an evolution in your life. It’s also great if you want to chop off your old colour and start fresh, which is great for healthy hair.”
Aside from this beauty metamorphosis the bob provides, Lee argued that the style has remained so popular because it can work for everyone. “There really is a bob for every face shape and hair texture!” she pointed out.
But, like with any trend, there are hidden (or not so hidden, if you’re paying attention) that have caused the bob’s come back.
How Bobs Became The Most Popular Hair Style In 2023
Without getting too sociological, humans intrinsically follow a herd mentality, meaning we’re easily influenced to try a fad or aesthetic when it becomes adopted by the mainstream. Case in point: Bieber’s fresh chop.
“Bobs are classic, timeless and make a comeback every season. It just takes an ‘It’ girl like Hailey Bieber to bring it back,” Edwards explained. “A lot of long-haired babes see celebrities and their ever-changing looks and see it looks good on them, so want to get in on the action as well,” Lee also added.
Even in the Jazz Age, when flappers began buzzing their hair after seeing the look on famed ballroom dancer Irene Castle, the style was rooted in defying convention.
Now, it’s taken on a new life, with the aesthetic in line with the rise of “quieter” trends that have emerged after the maximalist and “core”-laden zeitgeist of 2022.
“We’re seeing a lot of French bobs, which is cheekbone-skimming and effortlessly chic as well as a more traditional jawline length with lots of layers and texture,” Edwards told us.
The bob sported by the dernier cri is “super textured and incorporates the curtain bang trend,” according to Edwards, but Lee has noticed that this variation plays into the effortless luxury mode the style set is experimenting with.
“People are feeling chicer and going for a timeless and classic look,” Lee remarked.
Naturally, you need only look at the influence the likes of the “old money” poster child, Sofia Richie Grainge, and the grip Succession’s sartorial aesthetic had on the rise of “stealth wealth” to discern that walking around with a trim that may look low maintenance—but in actuality requires regular touch-ups and styling—has become the mode of now.
Just look at Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) and her billionaire-chic bob circa season three. A bob in 2023 signals you’re cool enough to not care that hair is a status symbol, but that you may not be immune to outside influences.
So, Which Bob Cut Is The Best?
“Every bob needs to be customised to the user, factoring the jawline, length of neck, face shape and personal style to come up with a unique look,” Edwards advised.
“Also consider your lifestyle, for example, a low-maintenance girl probably wouldn’t want curtain bangs because they always need to be styled!” he notes.
Of course, any professional hair stylist will always caveat this with you to ensure you’re maximising your hair’s potential, not minimising it.
“It pays to listen to your hairdresser about the best hair products and styling for you to get the best out of your bob so it doesn’t look too flat, mumsy or mushroomy,” Lee added.
But, to answer your question, the best bob cut is one that Edwards recommends “playing with the natural hair texture of your hair, lifting at the roots and creating an effortless high fashion look.”
“Use a dry texture spray to lift the roots, adding grit and texture. Experiment with choppy layers throughout to add more volume and give that ‘beach hair’ look,” he notes.
Ultimately, the best bob style is one you feel most powerful in. Short hair always possesses a sort of gravitas, so in an era where we’re allowing minimalist style to do the talking, let this understated style be anything but quiet.
This article originally appeared on Grazia International