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Iconic styles and shapes: a look behind four contemporary classic glasses frames


Some glasses frames just never seem to go out of style. From browline and aviator, you’ll have seen these timeless favourites being worn again and again in new ways, but how much do you know about the origins of each design?

Read on to learn the history behind four of the most classic glasses shapes, as well as the difference between the different glasses styles, with our guide to some of the most iconic frames from the last century.

The Browline

First created as part of the contemporary 1940’s design tradition, these original browline frames got their name from their distinct glasses shape; the thicker acetate top of the frame draws attention to the wearer's natural browline.

The original frames were actually customizable, allowing the wearer to switch up the colour and style of the acetate in the top part of the frame.

The 1950’s are the decade which are most defined by the browline frame, and this glasses style accounts for half of all eyeglasses sold and worn during this decade.

Today, these frames are considered a bookish classic, and are now available as sunglasses and readers alive, having enjoyed a new fondness for classic retro styles.

The Aviator

Aviator frames were developed in the 1930’s to be worn by pilots. The original design featured tinted lenses to decrease glare, but the style would not gain the name ‘aviators’ until the 1940’s when they started being used by military pilots during World War II.

These pilot sunglasses bore the now iconic shape, with a metal frame and brown gradient lenses, and soon became popular with celebrities and the public alike.

The aviator frames were eventually repurposed into reading glasses with softer details and lighter metals, and enjoyed a revival during the 1980’s where they truly became a cult classic.

Today, aviator frames have evolved even further to include acetate frames, bright colours and countless variations of the traditional metal frame.

The retro round

During the 1920’s, round glasses were hugely popular and could be spotted everywhere.

However, they were embraced all over again in the hippie movement of the 1960’s, with stars like John Lennon becoming synonymous with circular glasses.

In a departure from hippie style, oversized also brings 1960’s film star glamour to mind, and Audrey Hepburn’s iconic sunglasses are no exception to this trend.

Today, round frames are an easy way to bring a retro feel to any look, with oversized round frames in both acetate and metal proving popular.

The Boxy Square

The contemporary square frame was first released in the 1960’s, and was pioneered by French singer-songwriter, Francoise Hardy.

A clear departure from the sleeker wire frame glasses of the 50’s and 60’s, square glasses found popularity in the oversized frames of the 1970’s.

Available in bright colours with studded details, they were often associated with the disco movement and American urban nightlife scene that defined the decade.

Bold and boxy, this iconic fame shape has a distinct old-school appeal today that is as fresh as ever.

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