• The Evolution of Eyeglass Frame Styles

    From Tool to Designer Style Statement, Eyeglass Frames Have Come a Long Way


    Eyeglass frames came on the scene decades ago as a basic utilitarian necessity so that corrective lenses could be used without the need to hold them with one hand. Years later, eyeglasses are not just an optical essential, but a fashion accessory that represents individuality and personal style. From the clunky spectacles of the 1920’s to the chic and sexy specs of today, let’s take a brief look back at the history of eyeglass frames.

    1900 - 1920 - The First, Awkward Chapter of Eyewear

    Awkward, bulky and burdensome, the round spectacles were the most uncomfortable type of reading eyewear to date. They rested on the bridge of the nose without temples and were made mostly of wire or horn (ouch). They “balanced” on the face, but had to be kept from falling off through wire ear-loops or neck chains.

    1920’s – 1930’s - Baby Steps to Style and Comfort

    Round lenses continued to be popular during this period, but eyeglass frames were made out of “sturdier” metal and celluloid. Other new materials were introduced in eyewear during this period such as silver, 12k-gold plating and gold filling. Tortoise shell also became popular due to its natural beauty, but was often thick, heavy and uncomfortable.

    1940’s – 1950’s - Browline and Plastics

    Kitty Cat Eye Reading Glasses

    The “browline” and cat eye eyeglass frame styles were the most popular trend in this period. In 1947 it was introduced and combined both metal and plastic. The top section of the frame was made in plastic, which gave them a unique, faux eyebrow appearance. After the Second World War, the browline was so popular that it accounted for 50% of all eyeglass sales into the 50’s.

    1960’s – 1970’s - Flowerchilden and Mods

    Two major styles dominate this time period; the mods (short for modernist) and the flower children. The mods wore bold, clean geometric shapes with strong black and white bases and accents of color. The fashion-centric flowerchild often wore oversized bug-eye glasses with strangely shaped frames that expressed style and individuality.

    1980’s – 1990’s - Lightweight, Wraparound, and Quirky Designs

    Advanced design, high quality frames and materials like invisible bifocals and lighter weight eyewear were introduced. Darkened, cool shades with a touch of “quirk” were all the craze. French eyewear designer Alain Mikli popularized funky oblong and trapezoidal shapes, mismatched, bi-color frames and above all -- wraparound style shades.

    2000 – Present - Borrowing from the Past and Shaping Today

    The 21st century has an eclectic mix of all styles and preferences—making it impossible to identify just one trend. Individuality and style within the various US subcultures create room for all kinds of eyeglass variations. Personal style is the hallmark of today’s fashion.

    Find Affordable Designer Eyeglass Frames and Accessories for Your Personal Style

    If you are interested in exploring individual style through designer eyeglass frames, shop I Heart Eyewear today at We have a full range of designer frames, accessories, and affordable and stylish sunglasses for men, women and children! Sort by type, shape/style and color/pattern to find the perfect pair for your individual style!

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