We are going to take a trip through the decades looking at the most popular styles from one decade to the next. It’s amazing to see how fast trends change, and to see what designs really stood the test of time.
Many consider the 1950’s post war period to be the most prosperous time in American history. Americans were spending more money on goods, and sunglasses were beginning to become very popular in the U.S.
Cat eye sunglasses were all the rage in the 50’s. Big name movie stars, like Marylin Monroe, wore these glasses to make a statement. They were popular with pattern designs, such as leopard, Havana, or polka-dotted and usually had a dark tint to them. These glasses are still popular with the Hollywood crowd, with big names like Kendall Jenner always seen wearing these type glasses.
Plastic frames were big in the mid 50’s and early 60’s. Ray-Ban had two of the most popular models for this style the classic Wayfarer and Clubmaster. People liked the plastic frame because they thought of it as more durable then their thin metal counterparts. These glasses are still popular today and are some of Ray-Ban’s best-selling models.
The sixties sunglasses style was almost completely dominated by round frame sunglasses. The sixties were big on peace and love, and everyone coming together as one. These round frames encapsulate this way of thinking perfectly, and all sorts of celebrities from that time chose to wear them.
Large Oversized Round
These were very popular with females and started the whole oversized frame fashion movement, that still persists today. Companies like Gucci continue to make these bold flashy sunglasses that were popular with everyone from “hippies” to housewives. With these types of glasses: the flashier, the better!
Round “John Lennon” Sunglasses
The famous Beatle made these glasses legendary and true icons of the 60’s. They embody his spirit and style so well, that every Beatles fan of the day simply had to have them. In modern times, they certainly aren’t as mainstream, however that doesn’t stop the diehards from wearing them religiously. After all, he did actually help design these sunglasses!
The 70’s saw a significant departure away from the hippie style of sunglasses, and started to lean more toward rectangular shapes, at least for men. This was the era of disco and sunglasses were the ultimate way to show just how cool you really were!
Tinted, Small and Round
Elton John style glasses
For women the round trend continued to an extent, only this decade saw the lenses shrink significantly. They also began to be tinted in odd colors (like blue and green), primarily because stars like Elton John loved wearing these odd glasses while on tour. These glasses sure looked groovy, but a lot of them weren’t very good at actually protecting your eyes from the sun.
Clint Eastwood was one of the many people in Hollywood who started wearing these cooler, sleeker, and tougher looking sunglasses. They depart from the easy going round glasses of the 60’s and take on a more defined look that was more clean cut. The lenses were usually gradient brown or black and could have been seen everywhere from discos to the police force.
Fashion trends in the 80’s were all about being extravagant and over the top. Whether we are talking about the crazy hair or sunglasses, everything had to be bigger and better. This was also a time where pop culture really started to become big and where one star wearing something cool in a movie, could ignite a fashion trend.
These big, flashy in your face sunglasses are so 80’s it hurts. Popular with ski lift operators (the 2nd coolest job in the 80’s), these glasses were actually practical at keeping the wind and snow out of your eyes, essentially working like actual ski goggles. Throw in a set of mirrored lenses and you are the coolest guy or gal on the slopes!
In the mid 80’s aviators finally became cool again, and it was thanks to the famous fighter pilot (number 1 coolest job in the 1980’s) film TOP GUN. This movie was actually sponsored by Ray-Ban, who was hurting in sales at the time, which is why theses were the only type of sunglasses featured. This reinvigorated public interest in these pilot glasses, because after this movie everyone wanted to be a hotshot fighter pilot!
The 90’s saw a significant departure from the trends of the 1980’s. Everything was about practicality and being minimalistic. This was proven by looking at the style of sunglasses of the day.
For men, sport sunglasses were big in the 90’s, as they were the most practical for day to day life and not really much of a fashion statement. There was nothing ‘bold’ or “in your face” about them, they simply did their job and nothing more. They could be worn while doing outside activities, which was a major plus for people who wanted sunglasses on while playing sports.
Small Round Throwback Glasses
In the 90’s everything from the previous decade was considered to be completely out of style. Although fashion trends from the 60’s and 70’s regained some popularity, especially the John Lennon style glasses. Stars like the Olsen twins and Courtney Cox loved wearing these glasses, and anything that was even semi-related to “Friends” was sure to be a hit with women everywhere.
Retro Is Cool again and So Is A lot of Things...
If Lady Gaga can rock these, why cant you wear Wayfarers?
Our last two decades are hard to define a specific style to. The show Jackass made aviators cool again, while the public also took an interest in 50’s style cat eye glasses, as of late. In this writer’s opinion, it’s all about wearing what you like in the 21st century, as there are so many different types of sunglasses out on the market now. We live in a society that puts an emphasis on individualism and being yourself, so why shouldn’t that apply to sunglasses too?
By Peter Cusumano