If eyes are the window to the soul, what are sunglasses? The protector? We think so. After all, shades not only protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, but they give you a bit of privacy, too. Sunglasses as a fashion item have only been around since the ‘20s, but since then, there has been no limit to the number of designs. In this guide, we’ll take you on a trip down sunglasses memory lane, and show you some of the best looks of each decade. Like all truly great fashion, these are looks that still accessorise well with the modern wardrobe. The only question is, which decade in classic sunglasses will guide your search on the Vestiaire app?
The decade of decadence was a veritable dress-up box of sequins, feather boas and glitter. Oh, and our favourite ‘70s sunglasses, which were just as big and loud as the rest of the fashions of the day.
As a decade, the ‘70s, led by style legends like Cher and Diana Ross, had no time for subtlety. Everything was wild and life was a party— a disco party, specifically. Big frames dominated the sunglasses style in those days. Though square frames were a popular choice, all oversized shapes — aviators, double top bar, round — were fair game. But people didn’t wear these big frames to hide their faces. They wore them to stand out.
The second trend in ‘70s sunglasses were colour tinted lenses (the main reason large frames didn’t hide the face). The tints came in a veritable rainbow of colours. Red, blue, yellow, or even purple were popular picks that attracted even more attention to the large frames.
Nostalgia for the ‘70s is strong in 2021. The trends of the era inspire designers even today, and accessories like sunglasses are great items to begin to build a collection with character and flair. Though designers like Gucci and Bottega Veneta offer contemporary interpretations of ‘70s sunglasses trends, there is nothing like finding an original to have a truly unique statement piece.
For a fun-loving piece that will have you standing out of the crowd, but totally in style, choose your favourite colour for your lens. We guarantee it will uplift your mood. You can even filter your search on Vestiaire Collective to find pre-loved shades in the colour you want super easily. Seeing the world through rose-coloured lenses is just a few clicks away.
When you think about the ‘80s, undoubtedly you are going to think of big hair, big shoulder pads and those awesome aerobics leg warmers. But what about the shades that were popular in the decade?
Unsurprisingly, some of the favourite ‘80s sunglasses included styles that were equally as loud as the rest of the ‘80s wardrobe. Neon sunglasses were popular choices that still enjoy a place in the world of fashion today. To memorialise one of the icons of the ‘80s– hip-hop’s Notorious B.I.G.– Versace designed the Medusa Biggie line of sunglasses in four neon colours.
But hip-hop wasn’t the only genre of music impacting the fashion scene of the ‘80s. Punk was enjoying a decade of success and brought with it an edginess to sunglasses fashion. Literal edges, that is— triangle frames were a top look. Bono was one of the biggest entertainers of the decade and thanks to him, we have the wraparound sunglasses. While originally designed for sportswear, the unique silhouette makes wraparounds an enduring style.
Nontraditional sunglasses, like neon and triangle-shaped frames, were reflective of the sense of fun that pervaded the ‘80s. But there were some options if you were more of a conservative dresser. The Clubmaster is a classic frame shape that today’s fashion-forward hipsters have adopted as a kind of calling card.
Speaking of fashion-forward, you can shop for the best pre-loved sunglasses on Vestiaire Collective and contribute to transforming the future of fashion into one of sustainability and circularity.
Our favourite ‘90s sunglasses have a lot to do with both the rise of the supermodel era, and the music scene of the decade.
Rectangular frames are perhaps the most memorable style of sunglasses in the ‘90s. This angular look was immortalised by a handful of women who became the world’s first true supermodel posse, including Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. Turlington donned rectangular frames once again in 2019 when she shot a campaign for French designer Alexandre Vauthier, proving that good style is eternal.
Pop stars like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys ushered in an era of bubblegum pop and with it, the round sunglasses. These were surely inspired by the round glasses that were favoured by John Lennon in the ‘70s, but on a new generation of young, talented entertainers the style grew into a worldwide phenomenon that continues today. An appealing part of round sunglasses is how well they lend themselves to tinted lenses. It’s an easy way to add a bit of fun into your outfit, and brighten up your accessories.
The ‘90s had a bit of a contra fashion to the supersizing of shades in the ‘80s. Thus, the styles of the new decade became drastically smaller. Just think about the sunglasses that Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, wore in the 1999 classic The Matrix.
The small shape manages to have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of an outfit. And the style remains to this day. Just by looking at today’s celebrities who are sporting skinny sunglasses, like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, you can see that the style has a lasting appeal. Buy them pre-loved on Vestiaire to see just how long a well-made pair of shades can last you.
If you want to dress like the new millennium was just rung in again, you’re going to want to grab some super low cut jeans and a great pair of oversized vintage shades. Much like the ‘70s, the sunglasses of the early ‘00s seemed like they couldn’t get any bigger.
This was the beginning of the reality TV star era. And no celebrity was more famous than Paris Hilton, whose gigantic ombré-tinted rectangle sunnies set the standard for sunglasses of the decade. Yes, tinted frames were all the rage, but it seems today’s celebs like Bella Hadid think it’s worth checking out this look again. The amber tinted lenses of the early 2000s gave a certain nonchalance that said look at me all you want, but I’m too cool for you. The most popular lens colours of the early aughts were purple, blue and brown. In order to maximise the lens area, the frames were often a thin metallic rim.
Besides the transparent lenses that ranged in gradience from dark to light, the 2000s were big on crystal embellishments and large metallic brand logos— especially Chanel and Dior. This was an era where modesty was out, and flaunting your bling was in big time. A rhinestone-studded star in the corner of your sunglasses? Totally on point with the millennial fashion. But even if you aren’t Paris Hilton, you can still dress in glitz and glam with a pair of vintage ‘00s shades. This was a major decade for sunglasses and with summer right around the corner, we think it’s the perfect time to let yourself shine.
Sunglasses are just as important to defining the overall fashion sense of a generation as any other wardrobe staple. By wearing sunglasses from a particular decade you can evoke the sense of history that came from that era. But aside from decade-specific shades, there are the evergreen sunglasses that represent the classics of all the sunglasses fashion from the entire century. Think of evergreens as the best of the best, the selections that are made timeless due to a combination of form, function, and story-telling.
Some of the sunglasses that have never waned in popularity since they were introduced are the aviator glasses. This style was designed in 1937 and it has kept up with the times thanks to slight updates like the double top bar aviators that were made famous by Elvis Presley, or green lenses à la Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Today, aviators are a classic choice for anyone.
Cat-eye glasses are another stunner that keeps with the times thanks to a classic whimsical design. While the cat-eye glasses have a strong link to the ‘50s and ‘60s, modern-day designers like Miu Miu keep this look fresh.
Perhaps the most well-known of all sunglasses brands is Ray-Ban®, whose Wayfarer design is simply the classic shape of sunglasses. Ray-Bans are simply iconic, so it’s likely that you’ll hold onto these shades for many years. At Vestiaire Collective, you can shop pre-loved Ray-Bans with confidence thanks to our authentication process.
By choosing sunglasses that have been proven to never go out of style and purchasing them pre-loved on Vestiaire, you can close the loop on wasteful overconsumption. Choosing a pair of shades for quality and classic design rather than trends will ensure you have an accessory that you will keep for years instead of adding to the landfill at the end of a season.
Sunglasses are some of the most useful accessories around. But how does a Fashion Activist snag a pair of awesome shades and do good for the Earth at the same time? At Vestiaire Collective, we make it easy to buy pre-loved sunglasses in a responsible manner. Rather than shopping for seasonal trends, buy vintage glasses that have stood the test of time. Choosing a favourite design from a past decade means you’ll get a pair of shades that transcends the trends and has an enduring appeal.
Vintage pieces are unique, so you won’t be wearing the same look as everyone else. They also have an authenticity that fast fashion just can’t compete with. With a pair of sunglasses like that, you will keep loving them for years, which is one of the best ways to be a responsible consumer.
Shopping pre-loved sunglasses means you are taking a thoughtful approach to fashion which benefits your wallet, your closet, and the planet. There are so many pairs of sunglasses discarded every year. How about this year you pledge to recover a pair, and give it a new life, instead of letting a great pair of shades end up in the landfill? It’s just a small step but it’ll take small choices like this from all of us to transform fashion into an industry that we can be proud to be a part of.