SINCE sunglasses as we know them were invented, back in the 1920s, all manner of shades have come in and out of fashion, prompted by celebs, subcultures and catwalk collections.
But now, there are a handful of designs that so epitomise a particular era that they’re pretty much permanently in vogue — and in the shops. From aviators to wraparounds, here are the vintage classics throughout the decades.
1950s: Cat Eye
Cat eye sunglasses are characterised by teardrop-shaped frames, sometimes with embellishments on the corners, and were beloved of beehive-sporting ladies in the era, as well as iconic actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
In its most angular form, this distinctive shape suits those with a round or square face, but a more subtle feline curve can suit anyone.
Reportedly the best-selling sunglasses of all time, Ray-Ban Wayfarers initially had their heyday in the Sixties, spurred on by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, but they’ve enjoyed a major renaissance in the last decade.
The originals were black opaque plastic, but now Wayfarers (and similar square frames) come in a multitude of prints and patterns.
Jackie Onassis was the pioneer of gigantic paparazzi-shielding shades, a trend which endured throughout the Seventies and has since been adopted by similarly camera-averse celebs like Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss. Whether round, oval, square or anything in between, oversized sunnies lend their wearer an air of aloofness.
Originally designed by Ray-Ban for US military pilots in the 1930s, aviator sunglasses have had spikes of popularity in almost every decade, the most notable being a major sales uplift after the release of the box office smash Top Gun in 1986 — and they’re still going strong.
1990s: Small and sporty
When the backlash against the excess of the Eighties hit, sunglasses were downsized as sporty wraparound styles reigned — and with the 1990s resurgence in full swing, it’s about time that the era’s eyewear got a look-in.
2000s: Retro meets modern
Today, sunglasses are cooler than ever as designers blend styles of the past and dream up chic new shapes each season. Chances are these extravagant, embellished beauties won’t have the same staying power as an aviator or a cat eye, but for a seasonal style shake-up, there’s nothing better.