The retro faux bob.

Perfectly sculpted, elegantly simple.

The time we find ourselves in is one dominated by effortlessness. ‘Done’ hairstyles are, as such, a population in decline. The most admired glamour is the kind that moves, tousles, and looks nothing like a hair salon created it for a wedding.

But, if the runways are a reliable oracle, 2012 is a fascinating year for hair. In 2012 hair gets wet, it gets retro, it flows free and gets pinned up tight. The eras influencing fashion have much to answer for in the way of hair: the 20s and 30s give us bobs and finger waves, the 70s and 80s give us the kinds of glamour that come from blow dryers and tubes of gel respectively, the 50s rises to rockabilly heights and the 1960s has the most to answer for of all.

The trend towards 60s fashion gives us everything from Bardot bouffant bed hair to mod androgynous crops. It also brings back a unique opportunity to do a structured, pristine, ‘done’ style that defies effortlessness and still hits a trend note.

It’s as perfect as a Stepford wife, as ice cool as Betty Draper, as vintage as yesteryear and as modern as tomorrow. On the runway at Jil Sander spring 2012 this sculpted faux bob, inspired by the ’50s and ’60s, was a defining part of the ladylike yet easy aesthetic. And with the right styling, the right attitude, Jil Sander made a ‘done’ do somehow feel miraculously cool and even, contrarily, effortless.

“In the true DNA of the brand, this is a rich woman’s hairdo that looks almost so perfect, it has no period,” explains Redken Creative Consultant Guido backstage at Jil Sander’s show. “It could be from the future but also nods to the past.  It’s inspired by the 1950’s but then becomes mid-century modern which makes it such a sculpted look.”

In our shoot by photographer Kelly Defina, hairstylist Annika Bowen recreated the hairstyle on model Sophie Van Den Akker and, as always, was kind enough to share with us the steps she followed. To find out how to create the look for yourself, read the full step-by-step how to guide after the break.

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retro sculpted bob hairstyle

Shoot credits

Model: Sophie Van Den Akker @ Chadwick Models
Photographer: Kelly Defina at
Makeup artist: Shev Kelly for Napoleon Perdis
Hair: Annika Bowen @ Annika’s
Stylist: Mercy Watson

Who it’s suited to

This style needs to be immaculately sleek and sculpted. As such it works best on straight hair. If your hair is very thick or frizzy you’ll need to tame it first and do some prep work to get it straight.

The best length for this style is shoulder length to medium length. Very short hair won’t be enough to curl under and very long hair might prove too heavy.

Retro faux bob: the how to

It doesn’t take a lot of steps to create this hairstyle, but it does take some care and attention to detail. Try it for yourself by following the steps below.

Click the thumbnails for full pictures
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for
Sophie Van Den Akker by Kelly Defina for

retro sculpted bob hairstyle 1

Prep the hair ensuring it is smooth and straightened. Next curl all the ends under – you can do this by blow-drying it under with a round brush, or by using an iron. Annika used a ghd straightening iron to get the desired shape.

retro sculpted bob hairstyle 2

Section the hair into two parts. Section off the top part from recession to recession to create a horse shoe section and clip it up. Leave the underneath section as it is.

retro sculpted bob hairstyle 3

From the underneath section, take a smaller section of hair from the side at the front of the head, comb it back and pin it at the centre of the back of the head (the lower crown).

retro sculpted bob hairstyle 4

Do the same on the other side and pin at the centre of the back of the head. 

retro sculpted bob hairstyle5

Take out the top section and brush it back over the pinned section. Note that a pin may be needed on either side to keep the hair in place when brushed back. The ideal place to pin is at the side of the edge of the crown – where you can feel the skull bone. Now you should have the beginnings of a sculpted retro hairstyle.

Next, create a circle with the ends of the hair by tucking them under and pinning them in place. You should end up with all the ends of the hair looping under at the nape of the neck. Annika did this by hand, but if you have trouble getting a neat shape you can also try Redken’s method from the Jil Sander show and use a foam roller to roll up the hair.

The amount of curling you do depends on the length of our hair and on how long you want your curled under bob to be.

retro sculpted bob hairstyle 6

To hold the look in place and keep it sculpted, finish by spraying with a strong hold hair spray. 

retro faux bob hairstyle

The finished look

Think Mad Men‘s Betty Draper, or perhaps the beauty of Grace Kelly, and of all the pristine perfection of the ’50s and early ’60s as you style your retro bob. The face works best if left flawless with neat brows, a flick of eyeliner and a touch of lipstick. On Sophie Van Den Akker makeup artist Shev Kelly used coral on the lips while on the runway at Jil Sander they were kept a soft, almost nude, pink.

The retro faux bob: what to wear it with

As the Jil Sander runway showed, this style works brilliantly for the modern day if paired with a blend of ladylike vintage and contemporary relaxed cool. Try it with a crisp dress that accentuates the waist or a pair of cropped, high waisted capri pants for a dose of ’50s elegance, or with a more upbeat mini shift dress or tailored short suit to bring it into line with the ’60s trend.

Of course you don’t have to stick to the retro themes with your outfit: this vintage inspired hairstyle will also work amazingly with a contrast of ultra modern minimalism or futuristic themes.

For more hairstyles and haircuts that are on trend for the coming year, including how-to guides and tutorials, keep an eye on our 2012 hairstyles guide at that link.