Dutch Boy Haircut | Origin of an Iconic 1920’s Hairstyle

Mary Thurman’s Dutch boy –  bob haircut

Dutch Bob hair cut - Mary Thurman 1921
Dutch Bob hair cut – Mary Thurman 1921

Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore often get the credit – but it was actress Mary Thurman who first created 1920’s hairstyle “waves” with her ultra modern straight short bob hairstyle in the early months of the new decade.

Her bob – also known as the Dutch boy, is the most iconic of 1920’s hairstyles associated with the 1920s fashion era .

Glamour Daze gets the actual low-down from Miss Thurman herself when she talked with time travelling fashion reporter Adela Rogers St Johns at the famous Cocoanut Grove club in the Ambassador hotel in April 1920.

“A few days ago I was sitting with friends about a corner table in Sunset Inn. Suddenly there was a commotion near the door. People were craning their necks to see. Mary Thurman had just come in. They were looking at her hair.”

The Dutch boy haircut —1921—Mary-Thurman

On a Saturday afternoon – a few days later, we walked into the Ambassador for tea – Mary Thurman and I. Everybody turned at once and began staring. “It’s my hair again,” explained Mary patiently “everyone is in such a tizzy about it”.

Cleopatra on the Boulevard

It is quite wonderful – Mary’s hair, so chic, so smooth, so – straight ! To me, it suggests Cleopatra barbered on Hollywood Boulevard. It is the last word in chic, in fashion. It is so startling, it annoys, it allures. I don’t like it one bit, and I adore it.


I look at the other women around us – a debutante with the usual fluffy golden curls, a New Yorker with elaborate black coiffure, under a drooping hat – Marcel, bobs, puffs, rolls, curls, slicks, there are all types. Then I looked back at Mary Thurman’s. She had taken off her big white hat and flung it on a chair.

Her hair, a straight short bob haircut, is cut across at the nape of her neck, just below the ears, straight across in a long heavy bang on the forehead, it looked as smooth as whipped cream, a deep rich red, with a sheen of pansy purple velvet. It has an olive-ness that made me wonder if I would get an electric shock if I touched it.


“What a comfort,” said Mary.“To run a comb and brush through it and I’m done for the day!” It was a great idea, I told her, so how did she come by it?

Mary gets her hair wet

Mary-Thurman shows her new Dutch bob ( right) to Photoplay readers in July 1921

Like many great ideas, it was an accident. Mary got her hair wet!

“I went to the beach to swim one day and I got my hair wet. It was just bobbed then and I kept it curled all over. I was terribly worried when I found I couldn’t get it curled and I had to go out that way – leaving it straight. “When I came out, everybody piped up and said, ‘Why, Mary Thurman, why don’t you leave your hair that way. It’s so becoming and perfectly stunning.”

Out comes the Scissors – Presto ..the Dutch Bob

“So I decided to have a go. When I got home, I just took the scissors and cut these bangs, trimmed it straight all around and – well – here I am! “Some people say to me it’s great and some say it’s terrible, but I adore it and it’s a great comfort. It makes me feel like a little girl again” Mary Thurman, former teacher and graduate of the University of Utah, one time Max Sennett bathing beauty, pal of Mr Charles Chaplin and now – style Goddess! Read here for more on bobbed hairstyles.

Mary Thurman sadly died just five years later in 1925 aged just 30.

That’s all !

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2 thoughts on “Dutch Boy Haircut | Origin of an Iconic 1920’s Hairstyle”

  1. I love this site, but “time traveling fashion reporter”? The content is not supplemented by this schtick.

  2. I love her hair. Even though vintage curls are beautiful, she had the most perfect “flapper” bob, and it’s funny how much of an upheaval it caused, just because she was trying out a new way of styling her hair!

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