Wearing sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and the glare from the sun. However, the right pair of frames can showcase your personality and make a bold fashion statement. Like everything in fashion, there are trends that change throughout the years. The following are decades of shades.
Sunglasses were by no means a new technology when it started to become popular in the 1900s. Even in prehistoric times, there is evidence of the Inuit people who would wear flattened walrus ivory glasses to block the harmful sun rays. Nero, the Roman emperor, would watch gladiator fights through his glasses which were made out of polished gems.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that sunglasses started to become more widespread with Hollywood movie stars. Celebrities would love them because it hid their eyes and, therefore, concealed their identity. Sam Foster, mass-produced inexpensive sunglasses in America in 1929. People would buy them to protect their eyes from sun rays and imitate their favorite celebrities.
Sunglasses in the 1930s
Around this time is where sunglasses popularity really started to take off. The mass-market sunglasses were round frames. The focus in this decade was to increase the popularity of sunglasses and not rapidly changing trends.
Sunglasses in the 1940s
Around this time, pilots in World War II were wearing aviator sunglasses, but this wouldn’t be available to the mass public until years later. Instead, the people at home reinvented the round sunglasses. They gravitated towards thick, colorful frames and some of the shades even resembled flowers.
Sunglasses in the 1950s
This decade is where things really start to spice up. People moved away from the round trend and go into the cat-eye style. Celebrities like Aubry Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe is what really made this style of frames take off.
For the men, the browline style was a popular choice of sunglasses. This sporty style was worn by popular activist figures like Malcolm X.
Sunglasses in the 1960s
In the 1960s, the sunglasses styled deviated from the typical round shape. Large square frames were in style, especially with bright, neon colors. Stars like Twiggy and Francoise Hardy is what really made this style famous.
People like Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Ozzy Osburn were some of the stars that kicked off this trend for men.
Sunglasses in the 1970s
Oversized sunglasses became iconic after Jackie Kennedy started wearing them in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Around the same time, hippies were also using large shades, but of softer colors and with lighter lens colored compared to the frames of the ’60s.
Sunglasses in the 1980s
Even though aviators have been around since World War II, these shades really exploded in the ’80s. This was after the movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.
A new plastic, Optyl, came out during this time gave the ability to form glasses into heart-shapes, create shutter shades, and even tortoiseshell frames. The big hair in the 80’s matched the big personalities of the frames that were coming out and famous people like Madonna helped bring them into the spotlight. Even Princessa Diana would wear bright sunglasses.
Sunglasses in the 1990s
At the end of the century, big shades were being ditched and small glasses were in. It was wired frames with mostly dark lenses. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Courtney Cox were spotted wearing shades like this. Even young Britney Spears would wear small oval sunglasses, however, she would use more neon colors instead of the darker ones.
The sporty sunglasses for men served a more functional purpose than it did a fashionable one. It was mainly used by sports figures like NASCAR driver Jeff Gordan and everyday athletes.
Sunglasses in the 2000s
These are kind of like the oversized sunglasses Jackie Kennedy used to wear back in the day, but bigger. These are round frames that resemble eyes of bugs. Celebrities like Nicole Richie and the Olsen twins tended to gravitate towards these sunglasses.
Blinged Out Designer
Designer sunglasses with rhinestones were also popular. People like Paris Hilton would wear frames like these.
It is still unclear what the standout trend is. But there is a lot of gravitation towards vintage frames as well as newer looking sunglasses. Mirrored sunglasses with pricey designer frames also seem to be rampant on the streets.