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Bless the bob. Bold and brazenly boyish, it became the signature women's cut that symbolised the Roaring Twenties. First sported by fearless trailblazers like Coco Chanel, it's the style that defined a new type of female independence, and a cut that has continued to make an impact in every decade since. And then, sometime during spring 2013, the long bob (or 'lob') flew the fashion nest and began gaining instant mainstream appeal, as a vanguard of high-profile early adopters helped cement the style as the year's defining look.
Fast forward two years and the lob is still going strong: in today's fickle world of hair fashion, no less, which pretty much confers the cut with modern classic status. We've seen it frame a host of new and old famous faces. Whether it's Jennifer Lawrence or Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Campbell or Naomi Watts, from selfie-obsessed celebs like Kim Kardashian to style conscious 'it girls' such as Alexa Chung, all have rocked the long bob at some point over the past twenty-four months.
It's high time then for a comprehensive assessment of recent fashion's favourite cut, and a chance to help make up the minds of all those procrastinators who've been tempted by the look without yet taking the plunge.
To lob, or not to lob
So on to the big question: is the lob a shoulder-grazing, sure-fire hit? Is it a low maintenance all-rounder that delivers effortless, understated elegance for every occasion, or has the style now become synonymous with looking anonymous: a timid, mid-length compromise for those who lack real style conviction? Is the lob, in fact, modern hairdressing's equivalent to a safe pair of jeans?
The answers to this wig-flipping conundrum may all be subjective, but the reason for the lob's massive appeal can be summed up in a word: versatility. Not only does the style work strikingly well with pretty much every face shape and hair type, the length even enhances your statuesque appearance by visually elongating the neck.
How to work the lob
Long bobs can range in length from anywhere just below the chin right down to the collarbone, and making the lob work for you depends largely on getting it right for the shape of your face. If yours is heart-shaped (that's a face wider across the forehead and cheekbones with a tapering jaw) then avoid height over the crown. This accentuates width at the top of the head, so instead consider a lob that adds volume between the jawline and shoulder. Those with a square-shaped face (one of even width accompanied by a strong jawline) should avoid fringes, and opt for a lob with delicate layers around the face, and possibly even an offset parting to help soften their naturally pronounced symmetry. Meanwhile, those with round faces will love the way a shoulder-length lob flatters their face shape by elegantly lengthening the neck, and diffusing any babyish curves. If you have an oval face (one that's slightly longer than it is wide) then your options are open, and you can explore the full range of lengths and textures to be found within the current crop of popular lobs.
Meanwhile, the solution to ensuring your long bob says 'chic chick' rather than 'chicken' is to go for one of the exciting new variants of the lob that will be keeping the style fresh and relevant throughout 2015.
Lob, mob, or wob?
A style that's gone stellar ever since Beyoncé scrapped her hair extensions (to quite literally rock her new look on stage during her sell-out Mrs Carter tour in winter 2013) is the wavy long bob, or 'wob'. Jay Z's missus proved beyond doubt that she was 'crazy in love' with her sassy new look, adding a burst of red-lipstick to add accent and attitude to the freshly shorn blonde ends of her mid-neck length cut. Opt for a style this youthful and playful, and you can leave bland to the backing band: it's no wonder other chart-topping songstresses such as Taylor Swift were soon hot on her heels with a wob of their own.
For those without naturally wavy hair, a wob can easily be created with your trusty curling irons. Making sure you don't spin your hair around them more than twice, then simply shake it out into waves, which can be set with dry shampoo to deliver a daytime look that's casual yet defined.
Even further along the spectrum from those super-sleek straight cut lobs from back in the day is the messy long bob, or 'mob'. If this wasn't a nonchalant yet ultra-voguish style sure to earn second glances, then it's unlikely that the likes of Karlie Kloss and Alexa Chung would have hung on to theirs for so long.
Keep the length around shoulder level, with the back and sides longer than the front, and leave the top reasonably straight. Then, go to town from the mid-section down, by adding layers and texture. Voila: your cool summer mob is simply sorted.
So there you have it. Should you rock a lob? The answer is yes, just as long as you consult a professional stylist to help you choose the type that will work perfectly for you. Let your stylist get it right and you'll be enjoying an easy mid-length look that's long on style, short on maintenance, and flattering twenty-four seven.