Free & Easy Returns

Grab Your First Frame for $54 With Code: NEWPAIR

How to Choose the Right Cat-Eye Glasses for You

If there’s one type of eyewear that’s withstood the test of time, it’s cat-eye glasses.

Since the 1920s, cat-eye glasses have redefined the standard of eyewear in a previously male-focused industry. Well-known for its chic, bold lines, the cat-eye style has retained its spot as a top favorite among women and, in recent times, men.

Whether you need reading glasses or sunglasses, the cat-eye shape is versatile enough for everyday use. Thanks to subtle deviations from the original cat-eye eyeglasses, this vintage style fits every face shape, age, and gender, as you’ll see below.

Who Invented Cat-Eye Glasses?

A pair of blue cat-eye glasses from Pair Eyewear.

Before the late 1920s, masculine styles dominated the eyewear industry. That all changed when the late Altina Schinasi Miranda created the first cat-eye glasses, known at the time as “Harlequin glasses.”

Inspired by Harlequin masks’ eye features that are similar to those of cats’ eyes, Altina Miranda’s goal was to create eyewear that women could look and feel attractive in. Needless to say, she definitely achieved it.

The proof? Celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were seen wearing cat-eye glasses, transforming a simple piece of eyewear into a style icon. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and you have likely noticed these frames gracing the faces of well-known figures like Rihanna and Anne Hathaway. Clearly, the appeal of the cat-eye has only intensified over time.

The Many Faces of Cat-Eye Glasses

Sparkly cat-eye sunglasses sit on a white background with black stars.

Since its inception, cat-eye glasses frames have undergone subtle transformations to suit people from all walks of life. So, how have cat-eye glasses changed over the years?

For starters, you aren’t limited to the retro cat-eye sunglasses that Audrey Hepburn wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” aka the Manhattan. (Although, we have to admit there’s a reason this style is a classic. It’s an elegant and sophisticated take on aviators.) While the original cat-eye was designed for women, modern takes on the glasses have made them suitable for men, too. Think cat-eye glasses with bold browlines and semi-rimless frames in masculine colors. 

In terms of functionality, the cat-eye has stayed true to its initial purpose for prescription glasses while extending into other types of eyewear. Depending on which brand you go with, you can choose from prescription lenses like blue-light glasses, single-vision lenses, bifocals or progressive lenses, and so on. If you'd like to channel your inner Audrey Hepburn, there’s even prescription sunglasses for spectacle-wearers.

Let’s take a look at the various manifestations of the cat-eye glasses to help you select your ideal pair.

The Classic

The classic cat-eye closely follows the eye silhouette of the Harlequin masks — sharp, upswept edges with a distinctively feline look. The angular contours and rounded lenses are flattering glasses for oval faces. Its larger-than-forehead frame shape also suits heart-shaped and square faces. If you have a round or oval face shape, the winged corners create a nice balance with your soft facial curves.

The Petite

You may have seen fashion icons like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner sporting tiny cat-eye sunglasses. The extra-small frame size coupled with a flat top only enhances the dramatic tilt at the upper corners.

If you want to join the ranks of the uber-glam in eye looks, The Ella is a great way to do so. These women’s eyeglasses are some of Pair Eyewear’s best-sellers.

The best part about The Ella is that you’re fully in charge of customizing its color palette to suit your look. For instance, if you want all-black sunglasses for a bold statement, simply add the Black Sun Top to your Base Frame. From there, choose the type of lenses you want (prescription or non-prescription), and you’re all set to rock the petite peepers! 

Hint: Oval, square, and heart-shaped faces on the narrow side generally pair well with this slim and dainty cat-eye, thanks to its smaller lens width of 51 millimeters. The Ella’s rounded edges at the bottom make them ideal for round faces, too.

Not sure if The Ella is right for you? Don’t worry, our Virtual Try-On option gives you an idea of how it will look on your face. If you need more assistance, click on “Ask a Stylist” and our virtual assistant will help you out.

The Oversized

Fans of the oversized glasses trend will want to try The Wanda. The comparatively larger full-rim frames instantly draw attention to your eyes for a serious, studious look, especially if you go for the timeless tortoiseshell or solid black shade.

Because oversized cat-eye glasses tend to weigh more, the spectacles must sit comfortably on your nose bridge. Make sure the frames are well-balanced on the nose pads for a perfect fit. Also, check if your pupillary distance (the distance between the pupil of each eye) matches The Wanda's lenses.

As you’ll notice, The Wanda’s larger lens width of 53 millimeters is ideal for wider faces. The boxy bottoms play nicely with rectangular faces, square faces, and heart-shaped faces. For oval and round face shapes, The Wanda’s angular features help balance the soft facial curves.

The Neutrals

Perhaps you want a pair of cat-eye glasses that coordinate nicely with your everyday wardrobe. If that sounds like you, explore the Base Frames in neutral shades like black and tortoiseshell available for both The Ella and The Wanda.

Another option for neutral cat-eye glasses would be the clear frames trending in the eyewear sphere. Besides the transparent glasses frames that appeal to both men and women, these spectacles also come in every hue imaginable, from pale pink and lavender to sea-green and light blue. Case in point: You can pick The Wanda in Pink Clear or The Ella in Blue Clear. If you wish to default to the transparent hue, click on Crystal Clear for a minimalistic look.

The Colorful

So, you want to add some color to your life with your cat-eye glasses — good choice! All you have to do is explore our Top Frames collection that has everything from Classic Colors (like The Red and The Neon Pink) to limited edition styles.

Another way to spice up your cat-eye glasses is a two-tone design. The dual-toned palette typically marries two colors together. It could be contrasting shades like The Black and White to mimic the classic browline. Or perhaps you’d prefer dip dyes like The Ocean Blue for a more seamless color transition. For pops of colors, expect several hues and pattern designs within a single frame, like The Rainbow Mermaid.

For those into glitter and rhinestones, you’ll fall in love with our Sparkle collection. The embellishments add a subtle bling to elevate your outfit of the day. Plus, you can transform The Ella and The Wanda into sparkly prescription sunglasses with our Sun Tops.

Cat-Eye Glasses Are for Everyone

Two women smiling and wearing sunglasses that are cat-eye style.

As you’ve learned, cat-eye glasses aren’t just reserved for the big-screen actors. Thanks to subtle alterations of the original cat-eye, these frames now suit everyone. Bonus: You don’t have to fork over lots of money for these trendy glasses.

Compared to big brands like Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren, Pair Eyewear circumvents traditional channels that are responsible for artificially high prices. With an in-house design team for our glasses, we’re able to provide high-quality eyewear that adults and kids actually want to wear — at a fraction of the price.

If you have any questions before you head to checkout, visit our FAQ page to learn more. We’ll walk you through all you need to know about ordering your cat-eye glasses, from filling in your prescription information to choosing the right fit.