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What Is the Eton Crop?

The Eton Crop is a strikingly bold, short hairstyle that emerged in the 1920s, epitomizing the era's flapper culture. It's characterized by its closely cropped back and sides, with a longer top often swept to one side, exuding sophistication and rebellion. Curious about how this vintage cut could empower your look today? Let's delve into its timeless appeal.
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

The Eton crop was born of necessity and perhaps a little rebellion in the 1920s. This type of haircut often involved trimming off a woman's flowing locks in favor of the tapered look sported by men. It included small twists of hair on the sides to resemble sideburns and a slicked-back look in the front and on the crown, also similar to men. Depending on the woman, a wave of curly texture may have provided a feminine touch, though the ears were typically exposed.

Women embracing this hairstyle is partly due to the popularity of the choche hat, which tightly clung to a woman's head like a bell and flayed out into a subtle brim at the forehead. Brylcreem and other popular pomades were employed to keep the hair slicked close to the scalp, a practice already used by men. In America, the star/seductress Josephine Baker helped to make the style more accepted, though Great Britain is where it originated.

The bob is a longer version of the Eton crop.
The bob is a longer version of the Eton crop.

The name Eton crop was apparently embraced by Roaring '20s writers for the hairstyle's similarity to another close-cropped style of the era — one favored by students at England's prestigious and all-male Eton College. Etiquette observers decried seeing the style on women, which often required the back of the neck to be shaved to give the hair a clean and uniform appearance. The style also was reportedly popular among the lesbian community at the time, which was another cause for alarmist concerns.

Women of 2011 still can be spotted with the Eton crop hairstyle, though they are not likely to be met with the same reaction of scorn. It is not the only hairstyle of the 1920s to endure, though it was the shortest. Some variations of the Eton crop include the shingle style — with a pronounced shorn back but one or both of the ears covered; the Dutch boy — with bangs giving the cut a squared-off appearance; and the bob — with the ears covered. The bob is also credited with forming the basis of all the other short styles of the era. Often, what is known as a Marcel wave was incorporated, which gave the hair a wavy, more feminine texture.

Another popular women's hairstyle of the '20s is named the earphone. It involves a part down the middle, with each side ending at a bun over the ears. This style was made famous by Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy.

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    • The bob is a longer version of the Eton crop.
      The bob is a longer version of the Eton crop.