The bob, or the “Robert” as we called it in cosmetology school, is one of the most popular and timeless haircuts. With so many variations on the classic crop, it can be hard to tell the difference and explain what you truly want to your stylist. In an effort to clear the air, here is the definitive guide to bobs, lobs, and everything in-between.
(Image Source: Unsplash / Tore F)
What Makes a Bob Haircut?
A classic bob haircut, or bob, is more often than not a short, somewhat blunt cut that sits right around the jawline. The bob was initially popularized in the 1920s as a sign of independence among women. Back then, the idea of chopping your hair short was shocking as many were used to seeing women with weighty Edwardian-style hair. The bob symbolized progress and a free spirit, and was incredibly common among flapper girls and many 1920s movie stars. But in 2022, asking for a bob can mean a variety of things.
With all the new variations and customizations that come with this crop, saying “give me a bob” isn’t enough anymore. Let’s look at some of the most common modern day iterations.
Types of Bobs
The lob is a fairly easy one to explain. Short for “long bob,” the lob is one of the most popular medium-length versions of the bob. For those who don’t want to go too short, but love the sharp nature of a bob cut, the lob is a great choice. A lob haircut typically sits right at the shoulders or collarbone, and can be customized in many ways. From the type of layers involved to the angle of your hair’s perimeter (more on this later), the options are endless. But in general, a lob is really just a long bob.
The Asymmetrical Bob
The asymmetrical bob is another easy variation to explain. Simply put, this bob haircut is asymmetrical, meaning longer on one side. Typically the longer side will be the heavier side of your hair, or the side that you part towards, but there is no rule about the length. One side could be as short as your ear, while the other could graze your collarbone. The choice is entirely yours!
The Classic Bob
The classic bob is a one-length, jaw-grazing, chin-hugging haircut. With no layers or extreme texturizing, the classic or “typical” bob is usually suited for those with finer hair. If you have thick hair, unruly texture, or locks that seems to have a mind of their own, the classic bob might not be for you. Granted, it never hurts to try. Just be aware that one length haircuts on thicker hair tend to “bell out,” creating a triangular shape.
The A-Line Bob
The A-line bob, also called the concave bob, refers to the perimeter of the haircut. In the A-line bob’s case this means that the perimeter of the hair is longer in the front than it is in the back (hence the use of the word concave). A true A-line cut won’t have any stacking or layering, but it is fairly common to see stacked and layered bobs with an A-line shape.
The French Bob
The French bob is one of my personal favorites as it can absolutely transform a person’s look. This super short, cheek-hugging bob isn’t for everyone, but when paired with soft curtain bangs or naturally curly hair, the French bob is one of the most romantic bob haircuts. The key components of a French bob are a very short, blunt perimeter, with some sort of fringe. If you’re open to going above the chin with your crop but aren’t ready for a pixie cut, then a French bob may be a great place to start.
The Pixie Bob
The pixie bob (otherwise known as the bixie), in many ways, is just a long pixie cut. But its bob-like nature stems from its similarities to a French bob and graduated bob. The shape of this crop mirrors the technique one would use when creating a bob, but the key difference here is the length behind the ears and in the back near the nape of the neck. Taking these areas shorter is what crosses this cut over into pixie territory.
The Graduated Bob
The graduated bob is also commonly referred to as the stacked bob or the inverted bob. So if you hear these names too, don’t be surprised. When we talk about graduation, stacking, or inversion, we are referring the layering in the back of the head as well as the graduation in length from shorter to longer as we travel toward the face (hence the word inversion). Graduated layers, can be combined within any type of bob cut, from A-line to French. Essentially, these layers will create the “stacked” appearance on the back of the head. If this is something you do not like in a bob, be sure to let your stylist know that you do not want anything stacked or graduated.
At the end of the day, when you’re browsing bob inspiration and deciding what cut you want to get next, remember these terms. Words like A-line, concave, stacked or graduated layers, French, or classic, will help you get the point across to your stylist at your next salon visit. Don’t be afraid to try something new with your bob! In the mane game, hair always grows back.