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 favour.
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. If you want to embrace the 2024 hair trends with a switch from a sweet Scandi bob to the French - or you simply fancy a drastic chop - we think the French bob is one of the chicest styles you can opt for.
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 Plus, it is easily adaptable to suit all manner of face shapes and hair textures, meaning it won't join the ranks of outdated bob trends any time soon. 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?
"A French bob is a chin-length cheekbone accentuating cut with a fringe or “bangs” cut to eyebrow level," says David McNeil, Master Stylist & Color Degree Expert at Charles Worthington Salons. "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 in 2024.
Who does the French bob suit?
"Anyone that is confident wearing short hair and bangs, who has wavy to straight hair," says Eugene Smith, 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. Colour-wise, the classic French Bob is brunette and can look gorgeous with trending multi-tonal chocolate balayage, but really this is a cut that works for everyone. There are no bob mistakes or 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
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 (and avoid having to google how to fix a bad bob haircut).
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.
As with other sleek bob styles such as the trending slob haircut, less is more when it comes to styling. McNeil advises we, "keep it relaxed with a nice blow dry with a little volume, or add a few waves to add to the texture." If sleek and straight isn't really your thing, you could add plenty of volume to the roots to transform the French bob into this season's hottest look, the bubble bob.
Sam McKnight Sundaze Sea Spray | RRP: £26
McNeil recommends using a texturising spray for this look. It 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.
John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Air Dry Waves Styling Foam for Naturally Wavy Hair | RRP: £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 and refined French bob.
French bob styles we love
1. The side-parted French bob
We love this trendy, side-parted French bob that enhances the natural texture and waves of the hair. Plus, it proves you can rock this style without committing to a dramatic fringe. For blondes, use bond builders to keep natural hair healthy, strong, and your relaxed waves intact, while minimising frizz.
2. The sleek French bob
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
This simple and chic side parted bob 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 vintage French bob
For a more standout occasion look, these vintage waves tick every box. Although it will take a little more styling than your standard loose French bob, this is a beautiful way to reinvent the style and rake in the compliments.
5. The wavy French bob
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, and tuck your bangs behind your ears for a sleek finish.
6. The blunt cut French bob
Go for a straight cut to give thicker hair a cool, full edge that is also extremely easy to style. Use a sea salt spray and the best hair thickening products to get a subtle wave with dimension.
7. The bouncy French bob
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. Accessorise with headbands for short hair to switch things up.
8. The pin-straight French bob
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.
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Amelia joined woman&home in 2022 after graduating with an MA in Magazine Journalism from City University and she is now a senior fashion and beauty writer. She began building her career as a lifestyle journalist after completing a fashion journalism course at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design in 2019, writing for a variety of titles including OK!, New!, and Notion on topics such as sustainable fashion and entertainment.
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