When did wearing glasses begin to represent the epitome of style?
For a long time, as glasses-wearers, we battled against negative associations and common misconceptions. We found ourselves almost ashamed of needing to wear glasses. “You were supposed to do one thing, eyes!”. “You’re supposed to be able to see!”.
We saw glasses as a necessary evil. We would try to avoid wearing them. Given the choice, we would opt for contact lenses. When we absolutely had to wear them, we tried to make our glasses as invisible as possible. We felt less “ourselves” with these (to our minds) cumbersome and unattractive pieces of plastic and glass perched on our noses.
Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. Glasses became fashionable. Glasses were desirable. So desirable, in fact, that they started taking centre stage in the entertainment and fashion industries.
Catwalks and awards shows were awash with models and celebrities flaunting and endorsing eyewear. Big name fashion designers like Tom Ford, Prada and Gucci started to show us just what our lives as glasses-wearers could look like.
Your friends with perfect 20/20 vision (the ones who used to request to try your glasses on and exclaim “Everything is so blurry! Wow, you must be blind!”) started buying frames to wear. With no glass in. As a fashion statement. Just to be cool. Just to fit in.
As glasses-wearers, we were taken aback. We had spent so long turning our backs on our glasses. Could it be that we had been the cool ones all along?!
How could we have sold ourselves so short?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We had centuries worth of glasses stigma to overcome – that glasses were an uncool burden. Functional and necessary, yes. Uncomfortable and anything but stylish – unfortunately, also yes.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Lets take a look at these origins, and discover when it all began to change.
History of Glasses; Evolution into Fashion Accessory
Eyeglasses, as we might recognise them today, started life as magnifying glasses – they were literally pieces of convex-shaped magnifying crystal or glass held up to the eyes, either by a long piece of ribbon tied around the wearer’s wrist or by sitting on top of a handle called a lorgnette.
Not exactly the most practical of beginnings.
Eyeglasses started to gain popularity throughout Europe, with Italy forging its way as the best in lens production and Germany becoming a leader in the production of frames.
While heralded for their innovation, eyeglasses remained cumbersome and difficult to use for their first few centuries of existence. They remained largely handheld for a long time.
The materials used were far from the weightless comfort we have become accustomed to in recent years. They were heavy, and caused pain on the bridge of the nose. Early frames also caused pain to the sides of the head.
As the decades progressed, the negative image of eyeglasses as uncomfortable and unfashionable proved difficult to shake. Outdated and inaccurate as these stereotypes are now known to be, they were associated with characters that no one really aspired to be – stern older ladies, or the nerdy kid in school.
Functional or Fashionable?
Starting in the 1950s, and gathering even more steam throughout the 1960s and 1970s, eyeglasses started to be seen as something more than just purely functional.
Eyeglasses got a rebrand. Now, they were viewed not just as something necessary for improving vision, but as a fashion statement, a way to display style and personality.
Throughout the decades, we saw many of the fashion frames we recognise today start to take centre stage – the cat eye, the horn rim, the tortoiseshell, thick dark frames, rimless, coloured lenses, small lenses, huge lenses.
Whatever your personality or style, it was now possible to display it through your choice of eyewear. You could match your glasses to your outfit. You could choose different styles for different occasions.
The opportunities were endless. Glasses were now a coveted addition to everyone’s wardrobe.
The resurgence of glasses as a major fashion statement over the past few years is largely due to celebrity endorsements and to their use by fashion designers on catwalks. The runway and red carpet seasons of 2015, in particular, have been deemed pivotal in bringing glasses to the forefront – spectacles dominated nearly every look.
The rest, as they say, is history.
While just about anyone can now choose to don a pair of glasses, there is a special place reserved for those of us who needed them long before they were a fashion accessory! We’re not embarrassed anymore. We now know that wearing glasses is something to be proud of. As glasses-wearers, we were always way ahead of the curve – we just didn’t know it yet!
Taking a trip to the store, selecting the perfect style to suit you, leaving the store feeling more like “you” than you ever have. Its more than just something that needs to be done. Choosing your glasses is an enjoyable experience, something to look forward to and relish.
Its an opportunity to showcase the best of your appearance and your personality. Its the chance to give the same time, effort and love to selecting your glasses as you would to selecting the perfect outfit. After all, your glasses are the first thing people see when they talk to you. Be proud of your glasses.
We spent too long buying into the stereotype that glasses were a necessary evil. Now, that we know what a luxury they really are – what are we waiting for?!
Let’s go find our perfect frames!