NEW YORK – After several seasons of fussing with their long, layered locks, Hollywood stars and their copycats have been looking for a shortcut.
Many have found it in an updated version of a classic favorite: the bob (search).
“Bobs are definitely hot in Hollywood right now,” said Glamour magazine beauty writer Stephanie Huszar. “They’re really gorgeous, they’re really versatile and they’re easy to style.”
Celebrities who have gone all bobby lately include Charlize Theron (search), Paris Hilton (search), Nicole Richie (search), Sienna Miller (search), Britney Spears (search), Maggie Gyllenhaal (search), Kirsten Dunst (search) and J-Lo (search), among others.
The traditional bob is a short, sleek and sometimes severe cut with hair that's all one length (save for the possibility of bangs), falling somewhere between the chin and the shoulders. But today’s bob has a little more pizzazz.
“The new bobs are very soft and very sexy … they’re not blunt-cut anymore,” Huszar said. “Stylists are using a razor to trim the ends, which gives them a real lightness and softness and swinginess.”
And of course, what is hip in Tinseltown soon becomes the rage in plain old towns.
"It always catches on with celebrities first, but it's really starting to catch the mainstream now," said Mark DeVincenzo, a stylist at Frederic Fekkai (search) in New York. "People are so influenced by Hollywood."
The latest beauty trend seems to be a kiss goodbye to the long, wavy, layered look that's dominated Hollywood for the past couple of years.
"It became so boring and predictable, all this long hair," said New York hairstylist Mark Garrison (search), whose clients include Sandra Bullock (search), Scarlett Johansson (search), Marisa Tomei (search) and Sarah Ferguson (search). "[The trends] took us from pin-straight hair and the Japanese straightening to loose curls and beachy hair. Now this is a reaction to that."
But not everyone has jumped onto the short-hair train. Many long-locks advocates are staying firmly in their own camp.
"I would absolutely never, ever get a bob," said one Garrison client, Kim Katz of Scarsdale, N.Y. "The fanciest, schmanciest hair cutter could offer to give me one on FOX Television and I would never get a bob. Ever."
The 40-year-old suburban mom said she's just one of those long-layered types.
"I don't follow hair trends — I follow what I think I look best in, which is long hair," Katz said. "I think it's a sexy look that is youthful."
Beauty gurus, however, say one of the bob's benefits is that it can work for any age, hair type and face shape.
"It's not one bob fits all anymore," said Huszar. "It's tailored to your face shape. What woman wouldn't want that?"
Additionally, a cropped style like the bob can be more manageable for a woman on the go.
"Shorter hair is easier," said Mary Greenberg, editor of Celebrity Hairstyles and Short Hair magazines. "There's less to dry, less to style. If you've got a really good cut, you just have to use a little bit of product and play with it a little to get it to fall into place."
Convenience was one reason New York fitness instructor and actress Lauren Maclise decided to get a bob a few weeks ago.
"It's the best haircut ever," said Maclise, 41, who got it done at Supercuts. "It's like, no muss, no fuss. It's so easy to take care of — I quickly blow it dry; I don't even need a brush. It's perfect."
Losing her longer tresses "felt like shedding skin" to Maclise, but she specifically asked the stylist for a bob because she'd been happy with a similar cut years ago — not because her favorite actress was sporting one.
"It was just a haircut that always worked well with the size of my face, the size of my head," she said. "I was not inspired by a celebrity. I was inspired by myself because I used to have that haircut. I brought a photo of myself."
And though it might seem as though cropped cuts mean fewer variations on ways to style them, bob fans in the know say that's just not so.
In addition to wearing them down — sometimes straight, sometimes with curls — people are also bobby-pinning them (pardon the pun), stuffing them into tiny ponytails and even doing a little temporary lengthening.
"The big trend is to cover it up with [hair] extensions," Greenberg said.
The blunt-cut-made-new has become so sought-after among the rich and famous that there are even bob imposters lurking around — maybe on your favorite star.
"Bobs are so hot that celebs are faking them," said Huszar. "That's what Lindsay Lohan did. Her stylist trimmed hair extensions into a bob for a film premiere."