Blast From the Past: Glasses Through the Decades

There was a time when it was hip to be square. Or round. Or even rectangular. There was a time when the cat’s pajamas was the cat eye. In the present market for eyewear, some past trends remain more ubiquitous than others.

Today’s trend in eyewear, from prescriptive glasses to sunglasses, is an eclectic mixture of eyeglass styles tracing back several decades. Currently, the market has seen a resurgence of interest in glassless glasses. According to Loti, the trend originally began in the 1960s to imitate Superman’s Clark Kent look. Now, plastic frames sold without lenses have become a fashion accessory. These often-cheap frames come in many patterns and colors, and can be a fun way to mix up one’s look.

The eyeglass trends of the 1970s were ephemeral. However, the styles of the 1980s have had a much more enduring impact on fashion today. In 2009, rapper Kanye West released the video for his new song, “Stronger,” and introduced the 1980s style of shutter shades into hip hop and pop culture, said eHow. Since then, the sunglasses with multiple horizontal gaps in place where the lenses should be have become a trend amongst celebrities and teens alike. Paris Hilton has been photographed wearing them, and the sunglasses, while not worn for ultraviolet ray protection, are a popular choice with teenagers in photos. When shutter shades are worn, the look is playful and shows off one’s personality.

Also popularized through the media were aviator sunglasses - the iconic shades of actor Tom Cruise’s character in the movie “Top Gun.” According to eHow, aviator sunglasses were initially developed for pilots in the late 1930s and were modeled after the teardrop shape of the aviators’ goggles. The glasses became mainstream in the 1980s and have remained since. Today, aviators are popular due to their versatility. They look well on any face, age and sex and are used for both professional and fashion reasons. They instantly make any outfit city chic.

Another type of sunglass that has proved its staying power past the 1980s is the multicolored heart-shaped sunglass that has become a popular trend amongst hipsters, said eHow. These glasses are a feminine and whimsical way to add character and a vintage element to one’s look. 

Perhaps one of the most popular trends in eyewear is the Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglass. Wayfarers were designed in the 1950s, but thanks to product placement in movies in the 1980s, Wayfarer sales increased dramatically, said eHow. The simplicity of their classic look is what makes this style so appealing and enduring. Regardless of whether the frames are brightly colored or plain black or brown, they add the right amount of edginess and elegance without giving off the appearance of trying too hard. No other eyeglass trend since the 1980s has had such trend permanence into the millennium. 

While any of the above styles are trendy and in style, the overall safe bet for choosing eyewear is large, thick, ovular frames with little color. Colored or patterned glasses clash with too many outfits. 

No one knows what styles the future of eyewear will bring. They may glitter. Or glow. Or even grow in size. But I am willing to bet my rose-colored lenses that the aforementioned trends will be around for many more years to come.

By: Ashley Szatala 


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