Learn about Life in the 1920s

As far back as the second century women wore their hair bobbed. Of course history repeats itself. You can follow recurring cycles of economic, social and moral trends throughout the ages. So it is with hair fashions.

Trends in Bobbed Hair including the 1920's

What is meant by the term "Bob"?

The hair cut off straight, from shoulder length upwards. The length is determined by the position of the ear.

Roman paintings of the second century show us that short hair was very much in fashion those days, many women dressing their hair in imitation of the style worn by the Roman Emperor Titus. This same style, incidentally, reappeared as recently as 1900, when middle-aged women had their hair cut and curled in exactly the same manner—and again in 1925 when it was known as the "Mae Murray" or the "Rose-Petal" Bob.


Did You Know?

With the new 1920's Haircutting and Styling book, you'll find lessons on genuine 1920's hairstyling techniques written by an award winning 1920's hairdresser!



There probably has been no period when isolated women have not had short hair, such as the patriot, Jeanne d'Arc, in the early fourteen hundreds. But general popularity of bobbed hair has been born and reborn many times throughout the centuries.

The present bobbed hair vogue began during the World War. Practically all the women who drove ambulances had their hair cut for reasons of sanitation and convenience. Gradually other women in French civil life, as well as those engaged in auxiliary military duties, Red Cross Work, etc., adopted this simple, practical, youthful hair style.

Along about the end of the war in 1918, Mrs. Vernon Castle, the graceful ballroom dancer, started the short hair fashion in America which made the "Castle Bob" famous. This style was also termed the "Dutch" or "Page Bob."

Shortly after this, Ina Claire, the lovely and talented comedienne, appeared with a still shorter bob, her hair waved close to her head. With modifications, the Ina Claire Bob is still used effectively by a number of women.


The period of 1923 to 1928 witnessed an increasing number of girls and women parting with their long locks. But surely you remember that even then many a woman would not have an inch or strand of hair cut off, because her husband, father or son would not like it. Why? It was not motherly!

It may be significant to note here that in 1924 I had a very difficult time convincing an editor in Chicago that the short hair fashion had come to stay. Further, I was hard put to make him believe that a syndicated column on the subject by one who had made a study of short hair styles, as applied to various types, would be widely read.

You will remember that by 1925 women generally began to realize the importance of individual styling. This was the beginning of the period in which we reaped the real harvest in hair cutting. Because of my background and experience in "custom made" hair cuts, fitted to the individual on the basis of natural hair lines and personality, I was besieged by patrons desiring new hair styles, at the price of five dollars a cut. Women came from all over the city and state . . . from other cities and states . . . each one to have her hair cut in a style designed especially to accentuate her personality ... to heighten her charm.

Bobbed Hairstyles 1920s
Bobbed Hair Styles

This trend away from standardized bobbed hair to individual hair cuts and styles was probably the biggest factor in giving the short hair fashion renewed life and vigor. Had the profession been unresponsive to the need for personalizing and improving short hair styles, bobbed hair today might be a thing of the recent past. But with so many different lengths and styles of short, intermediate and long bobs from which to choose, according to their particular types, few women were willing to forego the delightful freedom, youthfulness and ease of grooming possible with short hair. You doubtless know a number . . . especially girls who grew up during the short hair period and never had long hair . . . who at one time or another decided to let it grow. If your experience confirms mine, you have found that after a while of bothering with long tresses, flocks of hairpins, tedious sessions of brushing and dressing, most of them returned to some form of bobbed hair with a distinct sigh of relief.

Today every woman aware of the importance of her appearance recognizes that it is not enough just to "get a hair cut." She must have it cut and molded to suit the contours of her head and neck . . . the natural lines of her hair . . . the features of her face. Such a cut, she knows, will make the most of her best features, and will minimize her defects... see examples of bobbed haircuts here

Naturally, the demand for expert hairdressers and stylists has grown with this modern trend. While the five dollar price is probably a thing of the past, you can get better-than-average prices for better-than-average work. Your patrons will keep coming back to you if you help them look more charming. We all know that the hair plays a more important part in this business of looking charming than perhaps any one other feature.

And since the cutting and shaping of hair form the actual foundation for all hairdressing and waving, they are highly essential in beauty work, well worth your serious time, thought and effort.

When you have acquired the expert technique of hair cutting and shaping, turn your attention to the art of individual hair styling. This is where your biggest opportunity lies as a successful hairdresser.


More information can be found in these articles

1927 Hairstyles
Information on hairstyles and haircare by a Movie star

History of the Bob Hairstyle
The Bob wasn't invented in the 1920's. Learn more...

Finger Waving
Finger waving added style to harsh bobs

Marcel Waving
Another way of adding waves to bobbed hair

Permanent Wave
The electric Perm was introduced

1920's Hair Decoration Ideas
Learn how to dress up your hair 1920's style

Selecting a 1920's Hairstyle
How to select a hairstyle that suits your features