Historians differ on who bobbed their hair first. Some say Coco Chanel; others give it to Irene Castle and still others say the Great War brought in a more useful approach to clothing and hair for employed women.
In 1917, ballroom dancer Irene Castle was called the best-dressed woman in America. More than a fashion plate, she made her edgy look mainstream with her confidant style.
Her bobbed hair helped her achieve long, thin and graceful lines on the dance floor and helped set a style revolution into motion
That Coco Chanel would lead the pack in the hair-bobbing arena would not be surprising. Her pared down designs turned the fashion industry on its head. While the fashions of the Victorian Age split a woman’s body into two halves, Chanel found symmetry between the chest, waist and hips.
Extra layers, constricting shoulder pads, three-dimensional ruffles and lace would be deconstructed by Chanel.
The restraints of the past, which included the long locks of the Gibson girls, fell away and the bob was born. The new look and freedom that women would embrace was called the flapper look and will forever be linked to the work of Coco Chanel.
In the film “Pulp Fiction,” the character Mia Wallace became a heroine because her simplistic blunt, banged hair helped define a famous dance scene between John Travolta and
Well known for his attention to detail, Tarentino turned Mia’s look into a cult classic.
All hip simplicity, the donning of a black wig on the natural blonde Uma Thurman steered the viewer toward the look of the old Hollywood actress Louise Brooks. From 1994 on, the look became de rigueur.
Most recently, Katie Holmes has sported the bob. Did her ’do precede her split with Tom Cruise or did the split inspire the bob?
Did women employed during The Great War demand ease of convenience and hair and clothes that worked, or was a style revolution born of the kind of sacrifice Jo March made on behalf of her father when she cut her hair to raise money to help bring him home in the novel, “Little Women?”
“My head feels deliciously light and cool, and the barber said I could soon have a curly crop, which will be boyish, becoming, and easy to keep in order,” Jo said.
Does the need for expression precede the necessity of convenience? What comes first chicken or the egg? Unscrambled, the bob endures.