Sunglasses are the key to any outfit and with Spring and Summer approaching they can elevate and change a look instantly. Whether it's cat eyes, round or aviators, we all have our favourites. We thought we would dive a little deeper into the world of vintage sunglasses and which styles have ruled over the decades.
Julia Roberts in the 90s classic Notting Hill wearing cat eye glasses
The classic cat eye: feminine, tapered and elegant in any iteration. It revolutionised the eyewear markets for its distinguished and stand out style. Invented in the 1920s by Altina Schinasi Miranda when she did not see any options to suit women. This led to her creating this distinct shape herself and putting it to several different eyewear boutiques in the city.
It was in the 1950s when the style was further refined into a narrower cat eye shape. During this time, notable figures such as Marilyn Monroe took to the style and subsequently wore it in many of her films, leading it to become a stand-out style favourite of many.
As the design changed over the years the design became more oversized and wider in shape. In the 1970s, the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana were seen to sport this wider and large cat eye style. But then when it came to the 1990s, a lot changed for the cat eye sunglasses. Tinted lenses were very much in fashion and so we saw a mix of both large and small cat eye styles in fashion.
It was only until 2017, that we saw the first iteration of the cat eye sunglasses come back into the fold. We are even seeing this style popular with clear lenses as a quirky retro addition to an outfit. This design is the one we see regularly now in 2022, that is smaller enough to shade from the sun but the perfect Y2K addition to any outfit.
Nowadays, a pair of vintage cat-eye sunglasses are the perfect everyday design.
Our Styling Tip: Pair with some vintage Levi’s and a oversized graphic tee for a classic casual summer look.
The Round Lens
Elton John wearing his classic round sunglasses
The round sunglasses date back to the early 1200s, as they were originally designed for pilots in the military. Still in 2022, it is a style that has been adopted by many musicians and high-profile figures alike.
It was figures like Benjamin Franklin that started to pave the wave for the round sunglasses for the style in the US. It wasn’t until the 1920s that this style was mass-produced and the style began to increase in popularity.
Through the likes of John Lennon, the oversized and round lens became a historic part of the peace-movement and others like Janis Joplin and Ozzy Osbourne. In the 1960s, models such as Twiggy used the round-lensed sunglasses as a key component of her classic style.
They massively grew in popularity in the 1960s, when the era was classically known for over the top and larger than life designs. From micro-mini skirts to bold and bright prints, the round-lensed sunglasses perfectly suited this era.
Iconic figures in pop-culture such as Andy Warhol, Courtney Cox, and many more became linked to this distinctive lenses.
Nowadays from 2019 and beyond, the black and gold Ray-bans are some of the most popular vintage sunglasses around. Their designs have even evolved into hexagonal and other shaped glasses based on the original round pair.
Our Styling Tip: Pair with some dark flares, chinos or even shorts for the sunnier days for a look that nods back to the 70s where these glasses began. Alternatively, pair with some fringed accessories or some mesh tops for a summer festival.
Tom Cruise in Top Gun wearing the classic aviator
The classic aviator is a style that continues to be trendy. Often termed the “pilot” glasses, this style was first associated with pilots in the 1930s.
The design came about when pilots began to land and due to altitude this often resulted in blurred vision. American pilot John Macready saw this and began manufacturing the style with Bausch and Lomb (now known as Ray-ban) and came up with a design to protect pilots' eyes from the sun when flying.
But it was only in the 1950s did Ray-ban historically advertise their first pair. The design quickly became a culture icon with Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson sporting many pairs as part of their individual iconic style. They also became signature sunglasses for Paul Mccartney and Freddie Mercury.
Since the 2000s, the aviator has been adopted in classic films such as Top Gun with Tom Cruise and James Bond with Daniel Craig. From a gradient brown lens to a striking black lens, this style is known for features in high-octane and fast action films.
It is a style that also suits women too, and is frequently worn by the likes of Noami Campbell, Bianca Jagger and Debbie Harry. Gloria Steinham purposely chose this style and paired it with blue lenses for her rallies.
The style and shape has never changed and stays the same to this day. Similarly to the cat eye glasses, the aviators have seen a change in lens colours in the recent few years. One of the most trending pieces of eyewear right now, is a yellow and orange toned tortoises aviator sunglasses.
Our Styling Tip: We love to pair aviators with any kind of dark denim like a jacket or even a leather jacket, for the perfect spring transitional look for both men and women.
The Most Iconic?
Overall, it is hard to pick 'THE' most iconic style as each variety suit different people and different styles were trendy at different times for different reasons.
But, If you look at longevity, the classic cat eye and round sunglasses are still popular in 2022. Both the cat eye and the round lens sunglasses are perfect for everyday use or for a sleek addition to a festival outfit.
Check out our sunglass selection here
By Imogen Green