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.
Meet the Expert
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.
Ahead, 20 variations of the bob hairstyle on different textures and lengths to inspire your next haircut, plus tips from Thomas and celebrity stylist Cher'e Nichole.
A Natural Bob
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.
A Versatile Lob
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.
A 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.
A Classic Bob
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.
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 1.5-2 inch curling iron. The slight bend will bring out the dimension of highlighted strands, as Halle Berry proves.
A Blown-Out Layered Bob
We're all about a blown-out bob that shows off long layers. "Shorter cuts can sometimes take more effort to maintain and style, but can also look very chic," notes Thomas. Create piece-y texture with a wax pomade for a more lived-in look, or wear it freshly blown out for a softer finish like Oprah.
An A-Line Bob
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.
A Blunt Bob
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.
A Middle-Part Bob
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."
A Voluminous Bob
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 Alfre Woodard's, work in Az Haircare's Captivate Structure Géle ($41) for both hold and volume.
A big part of the success of Jane Fonda's look, seen here, is also her hair's color. "If you color your hair a darker shade but your natural color is gray, consider going lighter," suggests Thomas. "When you color your hair brown, gray roots show up quickly. Gray roots will blend more subtly with blonde hair and not be such a stark contrast. The color will also be much easier to maintain."
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.
A Smooth Bob
Lots of layers don't necessarily make it a choppy haircut—take this smooth, voluminous bob, for instance. By having your stylist cut in many layers, it 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
Actress Cicely Tyson's bob with 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.