Famous Icons and Their Signature Sunglasses
July 12th, 2019 by Josh Southwell
A good pair of shades is an essential accessory that can be worn all year round. Sunglasses are not only great for protecting the eyes from harmful UV rays – they also make for a statement-making addition to your outfits. From sunnies with opaque lenses that will make you wonder how the wearer can see through them to shades that have a reflective optical coating which makes them look like legit mirrors, people of all ages are using sunglasses to add playfulness to their looks.
With help from our favorite sunglass gurus at Great Southern Sunnies, let’s go through some of the most-bought signature sunglasses to give customers an idea of what they should be looking for in a purchase.
Early Makeshift Sunglasses
Sunglasses have been an important accessory since their invention. Even in prehistoric times, goggles made of bones were used by the Inuit of arctic North America to protect their eyes from glaring light that bounced off the water and white snow. While such goggles vary in styles because each native made a pair of his own, we know that those found across the Arctic Circle had two tiny eye slits, and were held in place by a sinew strap made from walrus hide. The eyepieces fit tightly, preventing light from entering from above, below, and from the sides.
History also tells us that Roman emperor Nero set the precedent for the future of this vital accessory when he used gemstones such as emeralds to reduce the sun’s glare while he watched chariot races and gladiator fights in the Colosseum.
In the 12th century, sunglasses were also used by Chinese judges not to protect their eyes from the sun, but to hide their expressions when they heard cases. These judges wanted to appear impartial while listening to testimony, and the shades with smoky quartz lenses allowed them to do just that.
By the 1900s, sunglasses began to take on a more glamorous reputation, as they became a favorite accessory among many iconic personalities. They served practical purposes for movie stars who spent most of their time on film sets. First, tinted glasses protect the eyes of celebrities from the flashing lights of cameras that often caused them to suffer from red eyes. Concealing their real identity was another reason for these movie stars to wear shades almost all the time. With many famous personalities rocking their own pair of stylish sunglasses, the general public soon took notice, and sunglasses became a full-blown fashion accessory.
Sunglasses were not just introduced as a nice addition to people’s wardrobe, however. “Pilots glasses”, or Aviator sunglasses were developed in 1937 to protect the eyes of U.S. Air Force pilots while they fly at high altitudes. The teardrop shape of the Aviator was perfect for covering the entire range of the eyes, giving complete protection to the whole eye socket.
More specialized versions of shades were developed following the widespread popularity of the Aviator. For example, the 1950s saw the introduction of more unique frame shapes, including the cat-eye style of sunglasses that was popularized by celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn. Today, celebrities can still be seen rocking this sunglass shape which looks great on people with round face shapes.
In the mid-1960s, square shades with full frames became all the rage in the counterculture movement. Figures of free thought including Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol could be seen sporting sunnies with this shape and frame style.
Because many were inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ chic wardrobe, the oversized glasses she would frequently wear became an instant hit among the general population who wanted to emulate the bonafide fashion icon’s distinct style. As a result, round, oversized shades that were fittingly named “Jackie O’s” gained popularity in the 1960s, and has since taken on a wide range of sizes and shapes.
Jackie O’s are not only for women, either. During the 1970s, Elton John could be seen wearing oversized glasses on stage as part of his “Captain Fantastic” act. This paved the way for the popularity of this frame shape among men. Nowadays, you will still see many musicians who are fond of wearing these shades on stage.
The late 1980s saw a rise in Aviator sunglasses. Thanks to Tom Cruise who wore Aviators in the 1986 action drama film Top Gun, the glasses went from pilot’s garb to a best-selling frame style that boasts of an enduring appeal.
Today, we see a rapid change in eyewear trends, with many companies giving a new twist to classic sunglass styles, and incorporating new lens technologies to make sunnies both functional and fashionable.