Modern glasses—with lenses, frames, and temples/arms that wrap around the ears—came into fashion in the mid-1800s at the height of the industrial revolution. Before that time, they were expensive and handmade—usually by dentists! Once production ramped up, prices dropped and made glasses affordable to the masses. With more and more people wearing them, designs for frames become more stylish. And today, many fashionistas and artists use unique frames and coloured lenses to complement their personal styles.
1850 to 1900: Opera Glasses
Opera glasses, also known as lorgnettes, were the most popular style of glasses in the mid to late 1800s. They were small, delicate, and compact—making them a perfect contrast to the ornate Victorian style. Towards the end of the century, they became less common because they were seen as old-fashioned.
1900 to 1925: Pince-Nez Glasses
These small frames featured round lenses, a wire nose bridge, and a small metal handle to make them easy to hold. Advancements in frame design and the new convenience of wire temples made these glasses fall out of fashion in the mid-1920s.
1920s: Tortoise Shell
Before the introduction of tortoiseshell, most glasses frames were made from metal wire. This decorative touch made for a fashionable choice that is still popular over 100 years later!
1930s: Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses
These stylish sunglasses were designed to help pilots see clearly in bright conditions during WWII. Still a popular choice for men and women today, they reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s after the release of the blockbuster movie “Top Gun”.
1950s: Cat’s Eye Glasses
Style in the 1950s was all about coordination—and cat’s eye glasses were an ideal choice because of the range of colours and decorative styles available. The addition of rhinestones, enamel inlays, and tinted lenses made these the top choice for fashionable ladies at the time. Their distinctive oval shape remain popular with designers Gucci and Celine.
1980s: Gradient Lens Tinting
The popularity of oversized frames in the 1980s were made even more fashionable with the introduction of gradient lens tinting. From pretty pastels to black and brown tints, these lenses paired well with the period’s big hair and bold eye make-up.
1990s to Today: Retro Renaissance
Since the 90s, styles of glasses have been relatively unchanged. Retro styles do pop up every few years as trending fashion. From Mod-style frames in primary colours to horn-rimmed glasses with gold trim, modern glasses designers are putting a twist on classic styles.
Explore Our Showroom Selection of Fashion Frames
Need to refresh your look? We offer a great selection of unique fashion frames and lenses in Kelowna. Contact us today for our hours and brands we carry. Then drop into our store near the Orchard Mall and meet with our knowledgeable staff, or book an eye examination.