One thought that might click every curious mind is, “how the glasses perched on your nose come into existence?” Or How did these glasses evolve into such classy and sophisticated versions with the passage of time? Just like the various fashion trends, the journey of eyeglasses across time has seen remarkable innovation and transformation, starting from as early as 2000 BC.
Their journey traces back to ancient Egyptian and Roman times when rudimentary vision aids were used. The eyeglasses we are familiar with today can trace their roots back to the late 19th century.
Contrary to common belief, it’s challenging to pinpoint one individual as the inventor of eyeglasses. However, the 13th-century visionary Salvino D’Armate often receives this credit. His notable achievement was crafting a curved lens that focused light to provide a clearer view to the human eye. The early eyeglasses, framed by metal and housing quartz crystal prescription lenses, were a spectacle-like design that lacked modern-day hinges.
These eye protectors have come a long way from being simple vision correctors to defining an individual’s personality. So, today, you will delve into the evolution of eyewear, one century at a time.
Step back to the 18th century, when the spectacle was in its embryonic stages. The eyewear of the 1700s was simple in design but was a vital tool for aiding vision. Most eyeglasses were designed with round lenses and no temple arms, meaning they simply balanced on the wearer’s nose. 1700s glasses frames were typically made of metal or horn, depicting the limited manufacturing options of the time. Yet, these tiny spectacles were the beginnings of a revolutionary shift in eyewear, setting the groundwork for the eyeglass decades to come.
As we venture into the 19th century, the design of glasses was becoming more practical. This era saw the introduction of temple arms, which meant the glasses would stay in place and not just perch precariously on the bridge of your nose. The development of the monocle, a single lens for one eye, became a symbol of the upper class. Later in the century, a significant innovation was the pince-nez, eyeglasses held in place by pinching the bridge of the nose. While these eyewear trends of 1800s glasses may seem alien to us now, they paved the way for the practical and stylish glasses we adore today.
The turn of the 20th century was a transformative era mirrored in the evolution of eyeglass designs. Monocles remained popular, especially among the higher social classes, but eyeglasses were transitioning towards more functional and stylish forms. These rimless frames rested on the nose bridge, creating a unique but somewhat tricky fit. Spectacles with ear hooks were developed for practicality, while the use of new glasses materials like tortoiseshell and metal began to offer more options in eyeglass design. This set the stage for a plethora of 1900s eyeglass frames styles that would define the upcoming decades.
The 1910s marked the introduction of sunglasses, initially designed to protect the eyes of pilots from glare and UV rays. In this decade, eyeglasses were not just for vision correction or sun protection but started becoming a fashion accessory. This decade gave rise to large, round glasses and wire frames, which added a hint of sophistication and charm to the wearer. 1910 glasses are still sought after today
The Roaring Twenties saw a surge in round frames, symbolizing elegance and sophistication. Thanks to the influence of Hollywood, round glasses became the epitome of glamour and style. Also, the frames became more lightweight with the introduction of new materials such as celluloid, making eyewear not only a style statement but also a comfortable accessory. 1920s glasses remain popular until today.
Eyeglass styles continued to evolve in the 1930s. This decade witnessed the rise of the Aviator, initially introduced for pilots but soon became popular among the masses. A sunglasses style with large, teardrop-shaped lenses and thin metal frames became an iconic style that is still popular today. The 1930s were truly a decade of style and innovation, setting trends for the future eyeglass decades. These glasses, representing sophistication and elegance, gained popularity among both genders and symbolized the women‘s liberation movement. 1930s glasses remain popular until today.
The eyewear of the 1940s was a blend of sophistication and practicality. The era saw the emergence of browline glasses, which brought focus to the wearer’s eyes, framing the face in an intriguing way. These glasses, with their heavier upper frame resembling eyebrows, became a mainstay in eyewear fashion. 1940s eyeglasses are still popular today.
The post-war period of the 1950s marked a revolution in fashion, including eyewear. Cat-eye glasses, with their upswept corners and feminine flair, became the defining style of this decade, heavily influenced by the fashion-forward women of Hollywood, like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.
The frames of this period were often made from colorful plastics, allowing for a wide range of vibrant and pastel shades. Browline glasses captured the market in the 1950s due to their universality and adaptability.
Aviators, initially designed for pilots, took the fashion world by storm when General Douglas MacArthur was pictured wearing them and later in the 1950s when Marlon Brando was seen in them.
The era of counterculture and social revolution, the 1960s, was a time of bold experimentation in fashion, including eyeglasses. Oversized and round glasses became popular, reflecting the decade’s quest for individuality and non-conformity. Colored lenses also came into vogue, further adding to the expressive and experimental nature of 1960s eyewear. 1960s eyeglass frames remain popular until today.
The 1970s continued the trend of larger frames, with oversized glasses becoming even more popular. These round or geometric shapes became the hallmark of the era, embraced by celebrities like John Lennon and Mick Jagger. The decade also saw a shift towards square glasses and rectangular frames, often in bold glasses colors and patterns, reflecting the flamboyant style of the ’70s. Aviator sunglasses, with their large, tinted lenses and metal frames, also saw a surge in popularity. 1970s glasses remain popular until today.
The 1980s were known for their extravagance, reflected in the eyewear trends of the time. Eyeglass frames became larger, more audacious, and increasingly vibrant. The iconic wayfarer glasses, with their thick plastic frames and trapezoidal shape, defined the eyewear style of this decade. Neon colors and extravagant designs dominated the eyewear scene, reflecting the decade’s extravagant fashion. These glasses, with their unique flare-shaped lenses, were once again made fashionable by Tom Cruise in 1983. 1980’s glasses remain popular until today.
The eyewear of the 1990s saw a shift from the oversized frames of the previous decades to smaller, more minimalist designs. The focus was on sleek frames and experimental, artistic glasses shapes, breaking away from the previous decade’s excess.
Small, oval-shaped glasses became the trend, embodying the less-is-more ethos of ’90s fashion. The minimalist aesthetic extended to sunglasses as well, with slim, sleek designs becoming popular. From oversized to rimless, bright colors to avant-garde designs, eyewear became a statement piece. 1990s eyeglasses remain popular until today.
The 2000s saw a return to larger frames, with square and rectangular designs becoming the norm. Plastic frames in bold colors were also popular during this decade. Retro styles such as aviator and wayfarer sunglasses also made a comeback, proving that what’s old can always become new again. 2000s glasses can already be called vintage, as they are over 20 years old.
The 2010s were characterized by a blend of retro and modern styles. Vintage-inspired frames, such as cat-eye and round glasses, saw a resurgence in popularity. At the same time, contemporary styles like rimless and semi-rimless glasses became more prevalent. The decade was also marked by the rise of smart glasses, incorporating digital technology into eyewear. 2010 glasses are reto and check and will make a great choice.
And now, we’re in the 2020s. Glasses evolved from a necessity to a stylish accessory, thanks to vintage-inspired frames, technological advances in design, and the increasing popularity of blue light glasses due to screen exposure. The current eyewear trends lean towards a fusion of retro and contemporary styles, with a strong emphasis on individuality and self-expression. Bold, geometric frames are popular, as are sustainable materials, reflecting the increasing focus on environmental responsibility. 2020 glasses are ultimately whats in style today!
To Wrap Up!
Eyewear has indeed come a long way, evolving from a simple tool for vision correction to an essential accessory that reflects personal style and identity. Fast forward to 2023 and beyond, we can predict that glasses will retain their role as a key fashion accessory, with classic styles persisting and new trends sprouting.
One thing remains certain – eyeglasses will persist as an integral part of our lives. From a vision aid to a fashion statement, the journey of glasses is as fascinating as the views they help us see.