The ‘Bob’ is the archetypal 1920s women’s hairstyle.
If you want to pull off a classic 1920s look you simply must have a bobbed hairstyle. A short, simple cut, the hair is generally level with the bottoms of the ears or chin, and is worn straight or waved, with or without bangs.
The bob started during WWII when women who took on jobs in factories or driving ambulances cut their hair short for practicality. When famous dancing star Irene Castle lopped her hair in 1915, her huge popularity meant her new short style, which came to be knows as the ‘Castle Bob’, kicked off the bob’s emergence as a true trend of fashion rather than functionality.
A first simply a blunt, short haircut, the bob symbolizes ease of maintenance and functional modernism. This was a drastic departure from the long feminine locks of the ‘Gibson Girl’, the feminine ideal of beauty at the turn of the century.
that preceded the flapper look, and represented the feminine ideal
of beauty that 'modern' 1920s flappers rebelled against
In 1920 famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald's published a short story titled "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" in the Saturday Evening Post, and in the early ‘20s famous fashion designer Coco Chanel and actresses Clara Bow and Louise Brooks all cut their hair short. Scores of women followed suit, and the major fashion hairstyle trend for the decade came into being.
A somewhat cheesy video on achieving a Louise Brooks style haircut
The Shingle Bob dates from 1923 and features a V-shaped wedge cut into the hair at the nape of the neck. The hair is flat and covers the ears.
From around 1926-1928 a more daring and extreme haircut came into vogue: The Eton Crop. This style featured slicked-down and short-all-over haircut that left the entire ear exposed. Brylcreem could be used to make the hair slick and shiny – this was the style worn by famous entertainer Josephine Baker.
The Marcel Wave utilised a hot curling iron (revolutionary at the time!) to create waves in the hair, while fingerwaving uses (you guessed it) the fingers to create S-shaped waves while the hair is still wet, and setting lotion is used to lock the wave in place.
Here's a great little demo of fingerwaving
To learn more about the Marcel Wave, fingerwaving and 1920s haircuts in more detail, visit the fantastic 1920-30.com site - you can also purchase and download inexpensive how-to instruction books for the various hairstyling techniques.
Most good hairdressers will be able to do vintage-style waves in your hair. Bring pictures with you and get a fancy 1920s wave for your next dress-up party!
Want to achieve a 1920s bobbed look without cutting off your long hair? Check out this great video tutorial:
Hairstyle photo references of 1920s silent film stars: