French bob explained: the trendy and flattering haircut that's making a comeback for 2023

The cool and elegant French bob is adored by celebrities, and it's easier than you think to adopt the look yourself

A woman with the French bob hair style looking at the camera
(Image credit: Getty)

The French bob is one of the most timeless and enduring hairstyles that will always feel modern and fresh. From high-fashion models to low-maintenance dressers, the French bob has been donned by all manner of people throughout the years - and has recently fallen back into favor.

There are a multitude of bob hairstyles out there, but none are quite as iconic as the French. Typically chin-skimming and featuring feathery bangs, it is perfect for enhancing your face shape as well as adding some edge to your standard bob look. Whether you want to embrace hair trends 2023 with a switch from the box bob or boyfriend bob to the French - or you simply fancy a change of chop, we think the French bob is one of the chicest styles you can opt for. Combine it with the C-shape haircut to really frame the face, or let it sit full and bold in typical French style. 

If low-maintenance hairstyles are your go-to, the French bob is the first cut you should consider. This style looks best when the hair's natural kinks and waves are embraced, so it is not one that requires tedious perfecting. Plus, it is easily adaptable to suit all manner of face shapes and hair textures. If you have always wanted to give the European hairstyle a go but have never quite known how it's done, we've got all the tips and tricks you need. 

French bob: what you need to know

What is the French bob?

rihanna with a french bob haircut

(Image credit: Getty)

"A French bob is a chin-length cheekbone accentuating cut with a fringe or “bangs” cut to eyebrow level," says David McNeil (opens in new tab), Master Stylist & Color Degree Expert at Charles Worthington Salons (opens in new tab). "This modern take on the classic Parisian cut is generally cut blunt with heavy texture and finished with a relaxed wave, but is a very strong cut if worn straight and smooth." The French bob hairstyle has been around for decades, and no matter how you wear it, it is showing no signs of slowing down for 2023. 

Who does the French bob suit?

"Anyone that is confident wearing short hair and bangs, who has wavy to straight hair," says Eugene Smith (opens in new tab), Style Director at John Frieda Salons Aldford Street. "It may not work for someone who has curly hair as it will require more styling to get the desired look." However, if you have curlier hair and are willing to take the time to style it, the French bob world is your oyster. 

"By using different cutting angles you can change the appearance of a face shape, meaning this style can be flattering for all," says McNeil. There are no hard and fast rules to this hairstyle, so the key to nailing a French bob lies in how good you feel wearing it. It is a classic style that can be done multiple different ways, meaning you can customize it to what you feel suits you best. 

French bob vs Italian bob: What's the difference?

Although the two styles share similarities, they are quite different in execution and look. Whilst the Italian bob is cut fairly blunt, the French bob holds more curl at the ends, making for a textured and full look. The French bob is also typically shorter than the Italian, and is often cut with bangs. One of our favorite short hairstyles for women, the French bob sits around the jawline. If you prefer bangs hairstyles or want to rock a more cropped look, the French is the way to go.

What to ask for at the salon for a perfect French bob

natalie portman with a french bob haircut

(Image credit: Getty)

At the salon, you will want to ask your hair stylist for a jaw-skimming bob and cropped bangs, cut to around your eyebrows. You can also ask for some subtle layering and a volumizing blow-dry to truly embody the classic French bob. 

But despite the French bob style being well established, it is a cut that can differ largely depending on the individual. There are infinite bangs options, variations in the length, and different styles of cutting depending on your hair type. "Thicker hair types may find the [classic] shape too triangular and may need to wear a slightly longer length, but always consult with your hairstylist," says McNeil. This is why it is advisable to have a consultation before making the chop, to ensure you have a cut that will work for your hair specifically. 

But don't think that short hairstyles for thick hair or curly styles are off-limits. We recommend starting longer and experimenting with different lengths until you find the one that you like best for yourself. Taking a reference picture along with you to the salon is always helpful, as this will allow your hairdresser to see exactly what you are after. But whichever cut you go for, you will find that the perfect look usually comes from the right styling.

How to style the French bob

"If you have straight or wavy hair, you can let it dry naturally," says Smith. "Alternatively, you can use a curling iron to style the finished look." The best curling irons will help to add some body to your French bob style, particularly if your hair is usually quite flat. 

McNeil also advises keeping things simple for the best results. "Keep it relaxed with a nice blowdry with a little volume, or add a few waves to add to the texture," he says. Wavy hairstyles work well for multiple hair types and all lengths, and it only takes a couple of products to achieve a beachy look.

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L'Oréal Professionnel TECNI.ART Beach Waves Texturizing Salt Spray | RRP: $18.40/£17.15

"Use L’Oréal tecni art Beach waves to enhance movement," advises McNeil. This will help to add texture to all hair types and achieve that natural beachy look. Scrunch into the hair and use your hands to form relaxed waves.

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John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Air Dry Waves Styling Foam for Naturally Wavy Hair | RRP: $9.99/£6.99

"You can blow-dry with john Frieda styling foam," says Smith. Using this product in your blow-dry routine will help to add definition to curly hair types, making for a more controlled an refined French bob.

10 French bob styles we love

1. The natural French bob

Imogen Poots with a french bob hairstyle

Imogen Poots

(Image credit: Getty)

We love this effortless French bob that enhances the natural texture and waves of the hair. For blondes, use bond builders to keep natural hair healthy, strong and your relaxed waves intact, while minimizing frizz.

2. The sleek French bob

jennifer hudson with a french bob hairstyle

Jennifer Hudson

(Image credit: Getty)

There are a multitude of hairstyles for straight hair, and bobs look especially good on those with sleek locks. This style is great for showing off bone structure, and we love how it flatters the face. Use a hair oil to after styling for added shine.

3. The side-swept French bob

helen mirren with a french bob hairstyle

Helen Mirren

(Image credit: Getty)

This simple and chic style is timeless, and one that will work for anyone. Use one of the best hair dryers for fine hair for gentle styling, using conditioning products for a softer look. You can also use a round brush when blow drying to shape the bangs and get a fuller look around the face.

4. The cropped French bob

jackie cruz with a french bob hairstyle

Jackie Cruz

(Image credit: Getty)

For a low-maintenance French bob, this cropped look is perfect. Quick to dry and style, the length means that it will naturally retain some texture. Between washes, use the best dry shampoo to freshen up and enhance volume.

5. The rounded French bob

kiersey clemons with a french bob hairstyle

Kiersey Clemons

(Image credit: Getty)

This jawline-skimming style is rounded at the bottom, adding some softness to the jaw as well as highlighting the cheekbones. We love this look for a truly French style that is totally timeless. Switch up this look by experimenting with fall hair colors this season.

6. The bouncy French bob

samantha bond with a french bob hairstyle

Samantha Bond

(Image credit: Getty)

With more weight at the bottom, this French bob is bouncy and voluminous. A great style for those with thicker hair, it will give you a healthy and full-bodied look without feeling too heavy. Accessorize with headbands for short hair to switch things up.

7. The side-part French bob

phoebe waller-bridge with a french bob hairstyle

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

(Image credit: Getty)

Not convinced that bangs will work for you? You can embrace the French bob style without the fringe, and we love this side-parted take on the look. Use a sea salt spray and the best hair thickening products to get a subtle wave with dimension.

8. The feathered French bob

kat graham with a french bob hairstyle

Kat Graham

(Image credit: Getty)

Use the best hair straighteners to re-create this cropped, feathered look. Straighten the ends of your hair and add small flicks to create movement and a tousled look. Adaptable for any length of French bob, this is a foolproof style.

9. The wavy French bob

Caitriona Balfe with a french bob hairstyle

Caitriona Balfe

(Image credit: Getty)

Medium hairstyles lend themselves particularly well to wavy looks, so this style is great for slightly longer bobs. Use a curling iron and let the hair fall throughout the day to get a loose wave, or braid when hair is slightly damp to wake up with a natural bounce.

10. The pin-straight French bob

Anna Wintour with a french bob hairstyle

Anna Wintour

(Image credit: Getty)

Anna Wintour is the queen of this pin-straight bob style, and we love the healthy look it gives the hair. Use the best hair straightener brushes to comb through the hair and get a smooth look in minutes. Though French bobs are typically more textured, you can't go wrong with this look.

Amelia Yeomans
Staff writer

Amelia joined woman&home after graduating with an MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2022. She specialises in lifestyle journalism and throughout her undergraduate degree she wrote for a variety of student publications, where she developed a love for all things style, beauty and sustainable fashion. She has previously written for titles including OK! Magazine, New! Magazine and Notion before she started her career as a lifestyle journalist with woman&home after completing an internship with the brand.