The bob hairstyle has somehow earned a reputation for being a safe, somewhat boring choice for a hairstyle. But with so many different interpretations of a bob hairstyle and ways that you can customize it to suit your needs and personal taste, the bob cut is anything but boring. A catch-all term for hair that is cut anywhere from just above the chin or almost below the shoulders, the bob can take on many different vibes, so you're sure to find a great match for your personality and lifestyle. "There are many variations on bobs, which are always in style and can look great on all face shapes," says Stephen Thomas, hairstylist at Oscar Blandi Salon in New York City.
The best part? Bob hairstyles are a chic choice for any person, regardless of their age or face shape. When deciding on your next cut, the only important factors to consider are your hair texture (fine, thick, or in between), hair type (straight, wavy, or curly), and the amount of work you want to put into styling your hair each day. We spoke to Thomas and hairstylist Cher'e Nichole for their advice on the bob hairstyle for older women.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, 25 variations of the bob hairstyle on different textures and lengths to inspire your next haircut.
A look like actress Viola Davis's is all about embracing your natural texture. Use a combination of curl cream, hair oil, and styling gel to define and enhance your curl pattern.
If you currently have longer hair and are looking to tip-toe into the short hair trend, start with a lob that hits somewhere just above or just below your shoulders. Longer than a traditional bob cut, the aptly named "lob" haircut is a favorite for its versatility. Long enough to pull back if you need, yet short enough to classify as short, the mid-length lob allows you to not feel tied down to any single style. Hair this length looks just as good when you let it air-dry naturally (like model Lauren Hutton's style shown here) as it does when you style it with a blow-dryer or flat iron.
Shoulder-Length Beach Waves
If you want to leave a little more length to your hair, this is an excellent option for all face shapes and hair colors. To get this naturally wavy bob, loosely wrap hair around a 1.5- to 2-inch curling iron. The slight bend will bring out the dimension of highlighted strands, as Halle Berry proves.
Sleek, Layered Bob
This sleek, rounded bob with a few minimal layers proves that a simple hairstyle can still be bold and not at all boring, as evidenced by actress Glenn Close. "For this look, blunt cuts make your hair appear fuller," says Nichole. "One side is tucked behind her ear and wispy. This allows her face to be seen but still adds a little mystery with the long side bang."
For a finish this smooth, straight, and shiny, use ultra-thin sections of hair when flat-ironing it to straighten each strand evenly. Then, warm a little bit of oil between your palms and run it through the ends of your hair to finish the look.
Part Pixie, Part Bob
Not quite a pixie cut but not a bob, this hybrid hairstyle has all the edginess of a super-short crop but with a little more softness to it. If your hair has a natural wave, scrunch it to style. If you have straighter hair, use a styling wand to give your strands a cool bend like Tilda Swinton's.
Blown-Out Layered Bob
We're all about a blown-out bob that shows off layers. "Shorter cuts can sometimes take more effort to maintain and style, but can also look very chic," notes Thomas. Create piecey texture with a wax pomade for a more lived-in look, or wear it freshly blown out with face-framing pieces for a softer finish like Alfre Woodard.
A classic bob such as fashion designer Eileen Fisher's is perfect for creating volume in finer hair textures that get easily weighed down by longer lengths. Keep in mind that to maintain the shape of a classic bob, you'll likely need trims every six to eight weeks. If you're not someone who likes to commit very much time or money to your hair routine, you might want to consider a more textured look that grows out nicely.
Possibly the coolest bob style to ever exist, the shaggy bob with choppy layers has a rocker vibe to it, which is why it's perfect for those who find the classic bob a bit too simple. Tina Turner's version is loose but still looks sophisticated.
Yolanda Hadid's cut is slightly shorter in the back than the front, which allows for great movement and an angle that can be seen from the side. Whether you know it as the graduated bob, inverted bob, or A-line bob, this asymmetrical take on the classic cut has a youthful, edgy vibe. To give your hair body and height at the crown, ask your stylist for stacks of layers that are shorter in the back and longer in the front.
Anna Wintour's iconic blunt bob with matching blunt bangs is a bold look that proves the short crop is anything but boring. The length of a classic bob tends to be one to two inches below the chin but work with your stylist to find the length that suits your features best. The key here is reducing flyaways and ensuring there's plenty of volume and shape throughout the style.
Not all bobs have to have layers or be blunt—sometimes something in between can take your look to the next level. Try a simple cut with rounded body like Loretta Devine. It's an excellent way to put the focus on your hair color and shine.
Angela Bassett's sleek, middle-parted bob is proof that the look can be incredibly sophisticated. Nichole says it's "a great low-maintenance style that accentuates and elongates the jawbone and neck." Better yet, it's easy to achieve by using "a 1.5-inch flatiron, some serum, and some shine spray."
Bob With Subtle Layers
If you have straight hair, consider this bob. Although it might appear to be cut all one length, the subtle layering throughout and a slightly shorter length in the back keep the finished look from feeling heavy and weighed down.
Whether you have natural curls or not, you can achieve these defined tendrils with the use of a curling wand—but only after you've built the volume first with a fresh blowout. For natural curls like Oprah's, work in Az Haircare's Captivate Structure Géle ($42) for both hold and volume.
A Sleek, Slicked Bob
The ultimate cool-girl style, a sleek wet look—seen here on model Maye Musk—can be pulled off by any hair type and at any age. If your bob is too short to wear in an updo, but you'd like your hair pulled back to keep the focus on your outfit, this is one super-cool way to achieve that.
Who says curly bobs can't have bangs? Have your stylist break up the length of your cut with a few shorter curls around your eyes to frame your face, à la Gayle King.
Iman's sleek, stylish bob feels both trendy and timeless. The shape perfectly frames Iman's face and brings extra attention to her eyes with her side-swept bangs.
Shorter on one side, longer on the other—the angle of this haircut (seen on fashion icon Linda Fargo) adds interest to the otherwise simple style. Though it would look equally great worn wavy and textured, the straight edge emphasizes the asymmetry in the best way.
Lots of layers don't necessarily make it a choppy haircut—take this smooth, voluminous bob on Mary Berry, for instance. Having your stylist cut in many layers adds volume to thinner hair that might lay a little flat. To blow-dry a sleek lob, begin with a volumizing shampoo and mousse if you have fine hair. Use a large paddle brush rather than a rounded brush to get the ends to curl under.
Bob With Blunt Bangs
Model Naomi Campbell's bob is a bit on the lob side, but the cut with blunt bangs frames her face well and requires little in the way of styling; a smoothing cream and light misting of hairspray should do the trick.
Michelle Obama's hair works for any occasion: from a day at the office to date night. A wide barrel curling iron and light mist of hairspray will help to achieve this look. For a beachier take, leave the ends of your hair out of the iron when curling.
Regina King's cropped cut is low maintenance with plenty of styling options. The side part makes it all the more sleek when blown out.
J.Lo's messy bob can be dressed up or dressed down, but one product is key: texture spray. We love Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($49) for a voluminous, yet natural-looking finish when going for the mussed-up look.
Coiffed Curls Bob
Helen Mirren's perfectly coiffed, classic curly bob is the epitome of elegance, and a favorite style we see often from the actress.
If you're going for a look that is effortless and chic, turn to Cate Blanchett's choppy and wavy bob. Here, she keeps it short, well above the shoulders for a style that can be achieved with product on damp hair (then air-dried) or a few minutes with the curling iron. Either way, we're here for it.
Should bob haircuts be layered?
A bob with layers can give the illusion of fuller, more voluminous hair. Be careful of overdoing it if your hair leans fine or thin.
What's the difference between a regular bob and an inverted bob?
A bob refers to a haircut that doesn't extend past chin-length while an inverted bob features stacked layers in the back and more curvy lines as you get to the front.
What face shape suits a bob?
Bobs flatter a variety of face shapes, but the style specifically flatters those with an oval face shape.