In Defense of the $25 Bob: How to Get the Cool-Girl Approved Cut

There’s much to envy about the bob. It’s a timeless, jaw-grazing style that offers an instant dose of je ne sais quoi to any outfit. Its sharp edges look clean (even when they are not) and the abbreviated lengths save ample time spent in the shower and in front of your vanity. And, above all, it’s a statement: a strong, fast-trending one that every It girl about town has recently made. Selena Gomez chose to go the short-cut route when shedding her Disney Channel image; it was the revenge breakup hairstyle of choice for Bella Hadid (one that paired very well with that glittering bodysuit); Margot Robbie, Alicia Vikander, and Jennifer Lawrence have all recently reached for the razor in between film shoots. After all, as Coco Chanel once so succinctly stated, “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”

But, what many won’t tell you, save for this Vogue writer who has sported the cut for the past decade, is that the chic “I just woke up like this” style that was showcased across the Paris runways and peppered throughout street style snaps this season, typically requires a lot of maintenance. And frequent trips to the salon means time and money—two factors many cannot afford to waste this celebratory time of year. And so, for all the hundreds of hours and dollars spent on quick-fix appointments, which have always left me feeling slightly robbed and a bit unnerved, I recently vowed to find an alternative. After asking artistic friends who also work in fashion to trim my ends with a pair of kitchen scissors in exchange for a bottle of prosecco, a move one may reckon the likes of recently cropped Kristen Stewart or Lola Kirke would pull, one colleague finally suggested Astor Place Hairstylists, a half-century-old hair institution in Manhattan. A few days later, after skeptically descending a steep flight of stairs into the fluorescent-lit, linoleum-tiled basement barber shop on the corner of Broadway and Astor Place, I received my best bob yet, perfectly framing my jawline in one symmetric line, with no stray upward flips in sight. The best part? I was in and out in under 15 minutes, my cab fare still securely tucked in the pocket of my furry Shrimps coat.

And while it may take what feels like a lifetime to find your sweet spot, it’s what you do and ask for once under the knife that will determine whether you walk out with a cool girl–approved bob. Here, a few pointers from expert hair stylists and models alike.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Your Mind

Take the time to explain the exact style of cut you want before the shampoo portion of the treatment even begins. “The job of the client is to be clear, so there isn’t any room for interpretation,” says hairstylist Mara Roszak, whose newly fresh chops can be seen on clients Emma Stone and Olivia Wilde. “Try to have a sense of where you want the length to hit.” Even still, says editorial stylist Michael Silva, who has trimmed and scrunched the likes of Hailey Baldwin’s ever-changing platinum lengths, always be willing to take extra precautions. “If your friend is cutting your hair into a bob, have them draw a line on your neck at the desired length—use it as a guide.”

Reference Images Are a Girl’s Best Friend

“We all have our phones on us constantly,” says Roszak, “and I think that having a little folder of images or, even if you’re walking in the spur of the moment, pulling up a couple of photos [off Instagram] is so helpful in the communication process.” The bob can be as straightforward a cut as you wish, and with ample inspiration on social media, from your favorite influencers to their personal hairstylists, it should be fairly painless to find a haircut to follow, she says.

Remember: The Shorter, the Better

For those first-timers who desire a more low-maintenance style, get your hair cut a bit shorter. “Go as short as you feel comfortable so that you can go a few months without having to spend money on a new haircut,” says Reese Blutstein, the style blogger and freckled fashion influencer who is easily recognizable on Instagram by her blunt auburn bob and pin-straight brows. Of her signature crop, she says, “it takes me less than 10 minutes to do, the beauty of having short hair.”

Texture is Key

The best approach to an abbreviated length? “Cut for the hair type, not for the shape—or even the style,” says Roszak. And if you don’t know, then always ask what variation of bob will look best with your particular texture. If you have curls that scrunch up when they dry, for instance, don’t go as short, she says. If you have certain hair wave sequences, stylist Kristin Ess, founder of the beauty site TheBeautyDepartment.com, advises anticipating where your hair might “jump.” “The bob, although one length, is one of the hardest haircuts to do because [we all have different] hair patterns and cowlicks,” Ess explains, recalling her client Lucy Hale’s super thick hair that required undercutting and thinning to appear straight and uniformed. But, if you know which way your hair grows, your stylist can cut a straight line accordingly and, “you should be okay getting a simple bob.”

Arm Yourself With Products

For that lived-in but still glamorous look, à la Gomez, Silva recommends applying a serum and a soft hold hair spray after flat-ironing, which is “key to accentuating that straight line,” while Ess and Roszak suggest a beach or ocean mist spray such as Herbivore’s Sea Mist. For those with natural beach waves and curls, adding a diffuser nozzle to your hairdryer is a must. “You want to be able to get into your hair’s root to give it a little lift so it doesn’t always lay flat to the head,” says Ess. And for those who are more prone to frizz? Look no further than a smoothing cream and a drop of anti-frizz serum before drying. The good news? Your wait time just got cut in half.

Originally published on Vogue.com

* Photography by Christina M Garcia *

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