Where would the world’s fiercest women be without the short bob hairstyle? It’s the perfect haircut if you want to look chic and feminine while keeping your styling routine simple and low-maintenance.
Ever since it was first introduced in the 1920s, the short bob has always been synonymous with daring style. In the 1960s it was transformed into a geometric marvel by Vidal Sassoon when he created the 5-point bob. Many of our favorite celebrities have given the haircut a spin, from Marylin Monroe to Madonna to (most recently) Zendaya at the SAG Awards.
Short bob haircuts for inspiration
To get you inspired, here are all of the different ways you can make this haircut your own, whether you want to keep sleek and smooth, curly and voluminous, choppy and edge, or simply timeless.
1. Classic sleek bob
This stunning take on the bob haircut is simple and elegant, without any extraneous touches. The hairstyle is slightly graduated, which means the back is a little shorter than the front, to elegantly show off the neck while still framing the face. The shading at the root and tapered length guarantee an easy grow-out, so it’s the perfect low-maintenance, low-commitment style!
2. Wavy copper bob
Don’t worry — you can still play around with hairstyling tools even if you decide to rock a short bob! A thinner curling iron is all you need to achieve gorgeous waves even with shorter hair. In this example, the curls add texture to the copper-colored graduated bob, which is the perfect twist for a party or night out.
3. Wavy short bob
This is how you work a short bob in 2023! This eye-catching hairstyle is perfectly on-trend, with a clean center part and perfectly curled ends. It’s a blunt cut, which means the ends are cut to have a straight line, making this a striking look. It’s made even more striking by the bold choice of platinum blond coloring.
4. Soft timeless bob
The fantastic thing about this kind of soft swept-over bob is that it always looks modern and chic. Is the kind of casual timelessness that’s breezy and fun rather than overly classy. As a bonus, it doesn’t require much (if any) heat styling to look great thanks to subtle layering.
5. Graduated platinum bob
This short bob haircut is sleek, smooth, and icy. It’s a classic choice for winter, but it’ll also help you feel ultra-cool when summer rolls around. This style is slightly graduated, with blunt ends that portray elegance. Just keep in mind that to achieve such a light, pure blonde you’ll have to spend a lot of time in your colorist’s chair.
6. Fluffy short bob
Short bob haircuts can make you feel as light as a cloud. This adorable look is proof, with soft, fluffy-looking hair that’s guaranteed to bounce no matter how you part it. It’s cut to hug the jawline, which is a choice that beautifully emphasizes sharper features. This haircut is completed with a warm blonde balayage that brightens the face without requiring much bleach.
7. Sleek graduated bob
This graduated bob is a statement-making style. The variation in length from back to front is a little more extreme, especially when the hair is styled straight. The full straight-across bangs add to the statement rather than looking soft or youthful. If you want a hairstyle that’ll help you feel powerful, you can’t go wrong with this type of short bob!
8. Clean bob with wispy bangs
Straight-across bangs aren’t as popular as they once were. Instead, one of the best alternatives are wispy bangs! This graduated bob is clean and crisp, while the bangs help to add lightness while balancing facial features. It’s a great option if you think bang hairstyles suit your face shape best.
9. Curly bob with bangs
Curly hair is no barrier to rocking a short bob haircut! This adorable style benefits from the natural volume that only curls can have. While it’s quite short, it still feels full and feminine. Adding bangs makes the look even more vivacious and fun.
10. Supermodel bob
This style is what we think of when we picture the supermodel bob: Perfectly streaked blonde hair and a sleek bob that’s cut precisely to jaw length. Opting for such a short bob isn’t for everyone, but it’s undeniably effective at emphasizing model-esque features. The slightly off-center part is a nice variation that lends uniqueness to the look without compromising its sophistication.
11. Pink-tipped bob
Another great way to experiment with shorter hair is by adding a pop of color to your short bob! This blunt short bob hairstyle is simple and straightforward, but pink streaks at the front make it memorable. This look is styled into lovely waves, but we suspect it’d look just as good straightened.
12. Feisty side-shaved short bob
Want the best of both worlds? This curly bob haircut also features a side shave, for an edgy vibe and blissful lightness. It’s the kind of style you can always camouflage with a middle part. Honey-blonde highlights help emphasize the curls and add texture, keeping this look fun and light.
13. Short and sweet bob
This is the shortest of the short bob hairstyles on our list so far! It’s sweet yet playful, style to look textured and messy but with clean and straight bangs. Flipping the sections near the front of the face so they point inwards adds a face-sculpting effect. That said, going this short with your bob isn’t for everyone. You can still make the choppy look and pointed ends look great even if you want to go an inch or two longer.
14. Purple short bob hairstyle
Are you a fan of fashion colors? We know we are, especially when it comes to deep and alluring shades of purple. This is an amazing example of a color melt and ombre hybrid, with black roots that melt into deep purple and violet highlights. That said, this feathery, wavy bob would be a success no matter the color.
15. Clean side-part bob
Middle parts may have taken over TikTok but this look proves that a short bob with a side part can still look incredibly stylish. We love how clean and flattering this sleek look can be, with tresses cut just short enough to graze below the chin. It’s professional and graceful, so it’s ideal if you want your hairstyle to exude maturity.
16. Graduated curly bob
A graduated short bob hairstyle is even more impactful when its wearer has curls. This style celebrates curly hair’s natural volume and texture, while still owning the fascinating geometry that only a graduated bob can have. Make sure your hairdresser is an expert at working with curls if you’re hoping for this kind of style.
17. Chocolate graduated bob
Chocolate-colored hair is underrated if you ask us. While blondes and coppers have a bright cheerfulness, brunettes have a mysterious allure that’s hard to resist. This clean and sleek graduated bob pairs beautifully with gleaming chocolate hair, while a bit of wispiness at the front keeps the look from feeling heavy.
18. The beauty editor bob
Beauty editors don’t all look the same, and they certainly don’t have a uniform haircut. But if they did — this straightened bob would be it. The sleek style feels professional, but the bright blonde shade adds lightness while the middle part shows trendy know-how. Give it a try and who knows, you might score a fashion week press pass next year!
19. The gen Z short bob hairstyle
This bob-shag hybrid proves that short bob haircuts can be very youthful, quirky, and fresh. It exemplifies some of the hottest Gen Z trends, like bright fashion colors, shaggy layering, and wispy styling with flipped-out layers for that wolfish touch.
20. Shaggy bob
The shag is one of the trendiest hairstyles right now, and you can absolutely marry it with a layered short bob hairstyle. This shaggy bob hairstyle features choppy layers and short curtain bangs. Styling it into a blowout adds a ton of fullness and volume, with the face-framing layers flipped outwards to complete the 70s-inspired feel.
21. Undercut bob
Do you feel like even a short bob isn’t quite light enough for you? You can always combine it with an undercut, by shaving the hair growing at the nape. It won’t be obvious from the front or even from the sides, but your hair will feel much less heavy. Plus, when you want to look a little edgier, you can always show off your undercut with a mini-ponytail.
22. Choppy bob
If you love texture and movement, opt for a choppy bob with a lot of texture! The ends are razored slightly, which gives them a wispy feel. Styling this bob into waves with a face-framing center part helps to soften the face, keeping this look from being too intense.
23. Face-framing bob
A lot of bob hairstyles feature either full bangs or longer hair near the front. This is an exciting example of how your short hairstyle can incorporate face-framing layers, instead. The tresses near the face were cut a little shorter, as were the outer layers, leading to a voluminous look that’s nevertheless quite light.
24. 60s short bob
The ironic thing about the 60s bob hairstyle is that it doesn’t feel old-fashioned at all. This sleek Vidal Sassoon-inspired haircut actually has a futuristic, high-fashion feel. It’s the opposite of a low-maintenance short bob hairstyle, but that’s a key part of why it’s so impressive.
The History of the Bob Haircut
Bob haircuts are usually a women’s hairstyle where the hair is longer than a pixie, hanging somewhere below the ears but still above the shoulder. Long bob hairstyles can go just a little past the shoulders.
In a typical bob, the hair is cut so it is the same length all the way around, although these days, graduated bobs where the hair is shorter in the back and gradually gets longer at the front are just as common.
Short bob hairstyles can be styled with or without bangs, and a few strands around the face can be a little shorter as well. These days it is also very common for hairstylists to use layering and razor cutting techniques to add texture and to control the shape of the hair.
Historically, women in the West would have kept their hair long all throughout the Victorian era and for as long as can be remembered beforehand. Usually, their hair would have been styled into elaborate updos to keep it out of the face.
There are some examples of fashionable women wearing shorter hair, including French actress Polaire and American ballroom dancer Irene Castle in the 1910s, but in most cases, it was seen as either childish or austere and masculine.
As women started working during WWI to cover the duties of the men who went off to war, shorter hairstyles became a practical choice. Along with trousers and hearty fabrics, women also slowly started wearing their hair shorter for the sake of practicality.
It was in the post-war period of the ‘20s when the bob haircut became a fashionable choice rather than a practical one. Short bobs and medium bob haircuts came as part of the flapper revolution in women’s fashion, along with drop-waist silhouettes, visible makeup, and shorter hemlines. Many famous actresses adopted shorter hair, and regular women followed in droves.
For most of the ‘20s short bob haircuts were the only chic hairstyle. The hair was often curled into a Marcel wave or worn with cloche hats or headbands.
The ultra-short bobs of the ‘20s got longer, softer and curlier in the ‘30s. From that decade onwards, it was acceptable for women to keep their hair in longer bobs which were usually curled, though longer hair was more common.
The big bob hairstyle resurgence happened in the 1960s thanks to the iconic hairdresser Vidal Sassoon. Sassoon styled the hair of many famous models and actresses into very short bobs that had very sharp lines. The 5 point was especially memorable, with its points of hair accentuating the ears and a W-shape in the back. This style was very androgynous, especially at a time when men were also sporting shag haircuts.
Hair got longer and more voluminous in the ‘70s, and bobs were less common.
Though hair got bigger in the ‘80s, shorter hair also became somewhat common for women once again. The bobs of the 1980s had a lot of volume, unlike the streamlined short bob hairstyles of the ‘60s.
From the 80s onwards, bob haircuts would become a perfectly acceptable choice for women, though they would never transcend the trendiness of long hair. Short bobs would be styled according to popular fashion, so occasionally we would see more layered or more blunt versions of them with or without bangs and with varying ways of parting.
These days, textured, graduated bobs are the most common but we’re sure that in just a few years we’ll see a brand-new way of rocking bob haircuts.
Own the bob
Anyone who’s ever rocked a bob knows to expect comments like “I could never pull that off,” or “you’re so brave.” If you find yourself scoffing at the idea that a mere haircut is all it takes to be courageous, you’re probably a good candidate for a short bob. This haircut has withstood the test of time, and as you can see from our selection, there are nearly infinite ways to make it your own. Which will you choose?
Are short bobs in style 2023?
Short bobs are versatile enough that they can never go out of style. Short, layered bob hairstyles are a timeless choice, as are blunt bob haircuts. On the other hand, if you want to make sure your look is extra trendy, opt for a wavy short bob hairstyle with a middle part, and consider adding in curtain bangs as well.
What are choppy bobs?
A choppy bob is a short bob haircut with a lot of drastic layering, which leads to a very dynamic, choppy look. It’s an excellent option if you have a hairstyle with a lot of movement and texture, and that also feels a little edgy and non-traditional.
Is there a pixie bob haircut?
A pixie bob haircut refers to a very short hairstyle that’s between a pixie and a graduated bob. It’s not a common term, so not every hairstylist will understand it, so make sure to bring in reference photos if you want to give it a try.