Story of Us, 1910-1920: What About Bob?

A style for the ages, the popular bob makes its fashionable debut in the 1910s.

When we think of the bob, most of us think of 1920s silent film star Louise Brooks, designer Coco Chanel, Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction or Anna Wintour of Vogue. The truth is, the bob made its first appearance in the early 1910s as a reaction to the prior era of big hair and pompadours.  

Parisian hairdresser to the stars, Antoine Cierplikowski, is often acknowledged with creating the look. Inspired by Jeanne d’Arc, he first started chopping his clients’ hair to just below the ear in 1909. Those who were too shy to make the cut had him pin their hair under to get the look without the commitment, and since necessity has always been the mother of invention, the bobby pin was born. 

The new bobbed style of hair became a European fashion statement that resonated with actresses, writers, progressive women and the influential avant-garde bohemians in London known as the Bloomsbury Group, which included the likes of Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster. American ballroom dancer Irene Castle is credited for bringing the trend stateside. In 1915, Castle lopped off her locks for a short cut with little curls at the bottom out of convenience, claiming her long hair impeded her dancing. The style leader initiated a trend for the shorter hairstyle, as her “Castle bob” hair cut was copied with frenzy and popularized the term “bob.”