Vintage Sunglasses, Abbreviated
If you're unfamiliar with vintage sunglasses (as quite a few of us are, yet we admire then when we see them), here's the rundown:
- Big sunglasses are everywhere in the collection of vintage sunglasses, whether they're from before World War II, or 1983.
- Colorful--women of yesterday didn't hide behind shades of gray, amber and thin metallic frames. They embraced the red frames, the pink frames and the lilac lenses. Some did actually have gray lenses, but it wasn't uncommon to see funky colors.
- Shapes of vintage sunglasses didn't stop at aviator styles. How about an octagon to make a statement? In the 1940s and 1950s, the cat eye style was the "it" style. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the tops flattened out, retaining the rounded bottoms for a futuristic look.
- Size: Over time, men apparently decided that bigger was better. The sunglasses changed from small round lenses, to bigger, slightly angular shapes. Instead of covering just the small area around the eye, they covered up to the eyebrow and well below the lower lid.
- Shape: Surprisingly, when you look at men's vintage sunglasses, you'll see more shape-shifting than in the women's styles. Before World War II, sunglasses for men were mostly round. By the 1980s and 1990s, the frames were often big, aviator styles, with the double bar at the top across the bridge.
- Colors in men's glasses weren't as funky as in women's. That's usually the case. In the earlier days, lenses may have been round and yellow, but there weren't too many crazy color combinations like the ladies had. By the 1980s, neutrals were everywhere.
Vintage sunglasses aren't just one style, obviously. Each of us conjures up a different idea of what they are--from the big face-covering Dior sunglasses to the cat eye styles, on to the small round frames for men or the big double-bridge metal frames at the other end of the spectrum.
Want to Buy Your Own Vintage Sunglasses?
There is a surprising number of vintage sunglasses retailers out there. You can get the real thing, sometimes even never worn items. Or you can find replicas for reasonable prices. Here are a few online stores to get you started, as online shopping is probably your best bet. In other cases, it's up to you having good luck in a thrift shop.
- Klasik.org has their vintage sunglasses assorted by gender and time period. They've got everything from the incredibly sexy cat eyeglasses for women, to the round styles for men with the yellow and gray lenses.
- Vintage Sunglasses is another online shop with a wide range of rare designer sunglasses made between 1972 and 1990. All sunglasses are authentic vintage and unworn. You will find famous movie items here such as Persol 649, worn by Steve McQueen.
- The Vintage Frame Shop includes a wide variety of styles and manufacturers, and offers a great selection of classic cats-eye frames.