In my opinion (and in the words of Carrie Bradshaw), French bobs are “like a Chanel suit—they never go out of style.” You’re probably asking yourself as you’re reading this: What makes a bob French? Well, it has a few distinctive characteristics, and it captures that French joie de vivre with its sexy, careless, low-maintenance personality. It also happens to be what top hairstylists Garren and Aaron Grenia have recently gravitated towards. So if you’ve been considering a bold and fun chop, read ahead to learn more about how to make the French bob work for you.
What is a French Bob?
According to Garren and Grenia, a French bob is no run-of-the-mill bob. It hits right under the ears and above your chin, and according to Grenia (think: cheekbone-length). The style may have originated with French actresses in the 1920s who wore their hair in a cropped bob, sometimes with a beret. It has become a universal ambassador of effortless Parisian style. Often worn with bangs, the cut is usually blunt at the ends.
Garren notes that the short and flirty look of the French bob is what makes it so modern and cool. “I’ve been pushing it recently to clients who want to be freed of hair that has grown out during the pandemic. This was my signature look in the 90s,” he says. “I cut Karlie Kloss’ hair into a French bob. It was a little messy, not flat to the head, and it had personality.”
Still, personality isn’t the only thing about the French bob that makes it a timeless standout. It’s a versatile cut that can be customized for most people’s textures and face shape. It tends to work best for those with stick-straight hair, but your stylist can also cut it in such a way that accentuates your natural hair texture with scissors or a razor. “You can ask for the same length for all hair types,” Grenia says. “That’s the beauty of it.”
A word of caution, though—Garren notes that the French bob can look boxy with curlier textures if not done right. Before you write off the style, make sure to go to someone familiar with working with your texture and skilled in using scissors and razors. “I’d like people to start using their natural wave pattern and have the hair cut precisely for their hair and face, using a razor or scissor,” says Garren. “If you do it with a side or middle part without the fringe, then you have to be irregular in the bottom and longer in the front so it still looks sexy and not like an A-line bob. Your stylist should use a razor so it becomes piecey and separated.”
How to Style a French Bob
One of the best things about the French bob is that styling can be a breeze. You can rock it looking sleek and polished or playfully tousled. “The style gives your hair that just-out-of-bed but still chic look, that never looks like you tried hard,” Grenia says. If you want a slicked-back look, he recommends passing some of IGK’s Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel ($29) throughout your cut. “You can also use some texturizing spray to enhance your natural waves,” he recommends.
For daily styling, Garren says less is more. “I would use R+Co BLEU Essential Hair Tonic ($55) after you shampoo to scrunch the wave in and just let it air dry,” he says. Garren also prescribes R+CO BLEU Surreal Styling Serum ($70) if you seek a smooth finish. “Comb through wet hair and let it air dry. If the hair is frizzy, use the R+Co BLEU Super Style Crème ($64),” he says. “Always do it on wet hair so it doesn’t weigh the hair down. Use your hands or a large-tooth comb to give bounce, instead of a brush.”
I found that a combination of mousse and texturizing products gave my French bob weightless lift and bounce that I loved. Davines Liquid Spell ($45) and Oribe Grandiose Plumping Mousse ($39) were the best mousses for volume and flyaways at my crown. I loved Unite’s Liquid Volume ($31) for both volume and texture. R+Co’s Velvet Curtain ($34) also helped give some separation and moisture when I wanted to take a break from hot tools.
Ultimately, I found it super easy to dress up my hair for casual days and even date nights. Whether your hair is straight, curly, or wavy, the French bob can work for about anyone willing to give it a shot.