8 Decades Of Iconic Sunglasses

Fashion can change in the blink of an eye! What was all the rage this time last year is now long forgotten. For sunglasses, this ever-changing nature of what's hot and what's not is just as apparent - each decade has brought a new style of shades. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, they can also make a statement, acting as a bold expression of your fashion sense; often, they add a glimmer of glamour to your look.

So, from small and round to oversized and chunky, we bring you some of the most iconic sunglass styles and where they came from.

The ‘Bug Eye’ Look – 1930s

Before the Second World War, sunglasses were typically only mentioned in the context of sport, work or eye protection and normally always worn by men - the Great Depression meant that people weren't as able to splash the cash as most of the Western world is today. Although Hollywood stars initiated the trend in the 1930s, sunglasses only became a true phenomenon in the late 1940s. Until then, thick round frames made with light coloured plastic were popular, contrasted with dark lenses to create a ‘bug eye’ look.

The Iconic Aviators – 1940s

WWII Aviators

As time passed, designers started to experiment and the shapes of sunglasses began to alter. During the war, the iconic Aviator style became a typical piece of military gear after thousands of aviation workers were given their own pair, to protect their eyes whilst flying. They then became a big hit for men's sunglass fashion.

Towards the end of the 40s, mirrored lenses were incredibly popular, blocking 30% more harmful UV rays than normal tinted lenses. Hollywood stars were understandably more interested in the fact that mirrored lenses helped them hide from fervent fans and paparazzi.

 

Wayfarers And The Cat Eye Look – 1950s/1960s

Cat Eye Sunglasses

In the 1950s, former president John F. Kennedy rocked the Wayfarer, which still remains a modern favourite.

Sometime later, when the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe starred in the classic 1959 film Some Like It Hot, designers everywhere were inspired by the cat-eye shades she wore on set. This feminine style remained a big hit throughout the 60s. Even now, it's as popular as ever and can be found in all sorts of colours and sizes.

Round tinted Sunglasses

The Disco Era – 1970s

The rockers of the 1970s, such as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon, popularised round tinted lenses.

As travel became easier, fashion in the 70s had a more international, ethnic influence. Along with tight, stretchy clothing made of polyester, oversized, square frames ruled the dance floor during the Disco era, especially in vintage bronze or gold.

 

The Return of the Aviators – 1980sTop Gun

During the 1980s, the world experienced an economic boom and people began to use designer brands like Ray Ban. Everything seemed bigger and bolder.

The classic aviators reappeared thanks to the likes of Tom Cruise and Starsky and Hutch, although they will always remain an emblem of military gear for the U.S. armed forces. King of Pop, Michael Jackson, also popularised the futuristic shield-style shades that you often see on Kanye West nowadays.

The Minimalist Era – 1990s

Where the 80s were abundant with excessive consumerism and extravagant bright colours, 90s fashion was more relaxed and low key. Sporty, wraparound style shades were handy for cyclists and tennis players and small round and oval frames were made popular by the Olsen twins.

Recent style trends are proof that fashion is a repetitive cycle, as modern designs are largely a variation of previous iconic styles. We tend to adapt old recurring looks and give them a modern twist, in order to remain up-to-date and innovative.