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Everything You Need To Know About Tortoise Color Frames

The tortoiseshell pattern is one of those fashion staples that will always remain a mystery. We like to think the reason that tortoise color has stayed popular for so long is because it’s truly one of the most classic color patterns. It’s a great way to instantly bring a vintage feel to any getup while still staying impeccably on-trend.

So, what is tortoise color? Follow along to learn more about tortoise-colored frames and get our top recommendations.

What Are Tortoise Colored Frames?

Tortoise color is a term that describes a specific pattern that you’ll often see in accessories. While it’s most popular in eyewear, you might also see it in watches, hair and tie clips, and even jewelry.

Essentially, tortoise color consists of small dark patches over a lighter-colored background. It’s almost like nature’s polka dots.

Why Are They Called “Tortoise Colored?”

Tortoise color gets its name from tortoiseshell, which is the original material that tortoise color was made from. Artisans used to get the classic speckled pattern by breaking hawksbill shells into small chips, and then using heat to fuse them together. This method, while traditional, is ultimately unsustainable and has led to the hunting of millions of hawksbill turtles.

Nowadays, it’s easy to replicate that pattern with modern materials and without harming any animals. For instance, some makers will use plastic or acetate to make tortoise color jewelry and eyewear. Here at Pair Eyewear, we use acetate for all of our frames, including our tortoise-colored frames.

Are Tortoise Colored Frames Always Brown?

Because of differences in the materials and production process, original tortoise-colored items came in many natural tones and shades. You might see shades of orange, yellow, brown, and even white — all considered normal.

With modern materials, however, it’s possible to take this even further and develop new interpretations of the classic pattern. Now, you can find blue, pink, red, and even rainbow tortoise-colored classes.

Tortoise-colored glasses can be worn by both men and women and can fit almost any style, including professional, trendy, academic, and athletic. At Pair Eyewear, we’re all about customization and versatility, and tortoise color is one of the most versatile patterns in the book.

5 Top Tortoise Colored Frames

Do you want to try out tortoise-colored frames for yourself? Read on for our top picks.

1. The Otis

The Otis is a play on a classic frame shape that oozes scholarly sophistication — seriously, these base frames fit the vibe from Harvard to Honolulu. This modified square frame fits most people, but especially adults with medium oval, square, or oblong faces.

You can get this base frame in the traditional brown tortoise color or opt for a trend-setting blue tortoise color. As with all of our frames, the Otis is made from hand-polished, durable acetate.

2. The Larkin

Our most cherished base frame shape, The Larkin, is a sassy rectangular frame designed for adults and older kids with round or oval faces. Its narrow fit makes it one of our most popular frame options.

Like all of our base frames, the Larkin comes in a classic brown tortoise color and a blue tortoise color. If you don’t want to commit, you can have both! Simply choose the blue tortoise base frame and add on The Tortoise Top Frame. This magnetic top frame slides into place so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

3. The Soto

The Soto is our take on a traditional round frame, and it adds a trendy vibe to any aesthetic. It’s a medium-sized frame that works best on oval, square, or oblong-shaped face shapes.

You can opt for a brown or blue tortoise base frame, and you can even customize your lenses. We’ll match your current prescription, whether you’re near-sighted or need trifocals. We can even use regular reader lenses, add blue light-filtering coating, and make light-responsive lenses.

4. The Quinn

We wouldn’t be an eyewear company if we didn’t have our own spin on a classic cat-eye frame! This extra-wide frame is the perfect way to express your fun personality and keep things light.

The Quinn looks great on every face shape, including:

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Heart
  • Diamond
  • Triangle

You can choose one of our tortoise colors or one of our clear shades for your base frame — and don’t forget your top frames, too.

5. The Twain

Last on our list today is The Twain. This extra-narrow square frame is named after the literary genius, and it’s easy to see why — with these sharp angles and vintage look, these frames will look smart on almost anyone, especially anyone with an oval or round face shape.

Whether you’re looking for new frames to wear with your prescription or simply a pair of frames to keep the blue light off of your eyes, we have options to suit every mood and every need.

What Are the Best Tortoise-Inspired Eyewear Designs?

If you’re not sure you want to commit to tortoise-colored glasses, we have good news for you: You don’t have to!

With Pair Eyewear, simply pick out your base frames based on your face shape and your own style. Then, finish up by choosing a top frame (or two — or three!) that you can use to quickly change up your aesthetic.

Here are a few of our favorite tortoise-inspired top frames to help break the monotony:

  • The Tortoise Sun Top: This sun top features a classic tortoise color frame design with our sun lens covers so you can easily go between sunnies and regular glasses.
  • The Lavender Tortoise Split Sun Top: If you want a pop of color, look no further. Half tortoise color and half bright lavender, these sun shades bring the fun wherever you go.
  • The Coke® Stripe: These top frames are perfect for anyone who likes to embrace the retro spirit. These feature half tortoise color and half retro stripes, as well as the classic Coke logo.
  • The Matcha Split Sun Top: These are similar to our lavender split frames, except they feature a fresh mint color instead of lavender.

The Bottom Line

Tortoise-colored frames are the definition of a classic — they’ve been popular for long enough to be considered vintage, and they’ll continue to be popular for many years to come. This pattern is named after tortoiseshell, the material it used to be made out of. Nowadays, we use materials like acetate to replicate the pattern.

Here at Pair Eyewear, we understand how important customization is. After all, when you have so many different sides to yourself, shouldn’t your glasses reflect that? Get started by choosing your base frame today.


The Characterization of Tortoise Shell and its Imitations | GIA

Tortoiseshell: Too Rare to Wear — The State of the World's Sea Turtles | SWOT

Choosing Glasses for Your Face Shape |

How to Choose the Glasses Frame Material That's Right for You | American Academy of Ophthalmology