The Evolution of Eyewear Throughout the Decades

Oh, how far we’ve come! If you’re looking to reinvent your look, but don’t want your stride toward vintage to flirt too closely with grandma’s specs, follow along with our visit through the evolution of eyewear. Learn which specs were the specs, when changes were made and how to keep your cool while keeping your vision sharp.

Though today eyewear has become an essential staple of the fashionista, it didn’t start out that way. Believe it or not, eyewear was originally crafted for the sole function of seeing clearly. Let’s see just how we got to the point of no return today, where this accessory is a show stopper and a personality definer.

Let’s revisit the days of our grandparents’ (and their grandparents’) past…

1900- 1920:

The Nose Pinchers:

Excuse us, the pince-nez, were wired frames that hailed from France and sat, by pinching, at the bridge of the nose. Some sported chains or ear loops to help keep the frames from losing their pinching tension and falling when, say, looking down…

The Opera Glasses:

The Lorgnette was high-society fashion. Pasted onto a shaft like that of a magnifying glass. This mask type of frame was popular amongst the wealthy and the sophisticated who spent afternoons and evenings at the opera.

Overall, circle was the go-to shape and the donning of frames was a symbol of status.

Breakthrough Contribution:

In 1913, craftsmen developed lenses that were capable of absorbing harmful UV and infrared light.

1920-1930:

The Flame Decade:

Literally, sort of. Frames in this decade were crafted from celluloid – a material that is no longer used in production because of its delicacy and flammability. To combat the mistrust of this material, craftsmen played with metals, including real silver and gold, and turquoise shell.

Breakthrough Contribution:

Polarization. Ray-Bans debuted in the 30s for US Air Force pilots to protect their eyes (and heads) from the glare of the sun in flight. Ray-Ban made green-hued lenses, which were polarized.

1940-1950

Brows on Fleek:

This decade was all about the brow line. Lenses grew and frames were accented to create a distinct brow line across the top of the frame. Embellishments made their debut and characters like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean made certain styles iconic.

Breakthrough Contribution:

Glamorization. Shades were now a staple of self-expression and fashion.

1960-1970

Bug eyes and big frames:

Nothing held this generation back in the eyewear department. Bigger was better and weirder was cooler. Geometric shapes met sharp colors and overbearing circles met rainbow tints.

1980-1990

The return of the Wayfarer, Ray-Ban’s most iconic frame. All the hottest celebrities donned the 1957 Wayfarer in this decade.

The nineties, as we know, were a mess. Frames of shapes and sizes from all the decades came back to forefront.

2000 – Today

Glasses go chic. There is not necessarily one distinct style that defines the better part of the last two decades. However, one vision is clear: glasses are in. Eyewear is desirable whether you’re in need of a prescription or not.

Breakthrough Contribution:

Cool factor.

Remember, just because you don’t see clearly without your glasses doesn’t mean you can’t see the eyeglass trends decades fashion plainly. Come into Diamond Vision to keep the times moving forward and select your best face-framing, personality-popping pair today.