’60s-Style Glasses: The Look That Just Won’t Quit
January 11, 2023 • 6:28 AM
The “swinging ’60s” are famous for their revolutionary ethos. Young people spoke up for what they believed in — and protested what they didn’t agree with. A rebellious spirit and expressing your individuality were the order of the day — and this was reflected in ’60s-style clothes and glasses too.
Let’s explore the defining features of ’60s-style glasses and how you can work that look today. We’ll also look at where to find the best ‘60s vintage-style glasses, no matter what your prescription. May the spirit of the ’60s live on!
What Was the ’60s-Style Look?
Up until the 1960s, specs were purely functional. They usually had metal frames, which limited their colors to gold or silver, and the lenses were made of glass. This made glasses quite heavy.
Then in the 1950s, technology made a leap forward. A new material called Optyl was developed, which allowed for a much lighter, plastic frame. The new frames could be injection-molded in a wide range of colors and shapes and were easy to mass produce.
Combine this with the prevailing ethos, and by the 1960s, form often surpassed functionality as vintage eyeglasses took a new turn. For the first time, fashion-forward trendsetters, hipsters, and hippies alike began wearing glasses they didn’t need, purely for the way they looked. Sometimes they could hardly even see through them.
The best-selling glasses of the time were further influenced by celebrities. Think Jackie O in her incredibly stylish, oversized sunglasses, Marilyn Monroe in her Wayfarers, or Audrey Hepburn in her dark tortoiseshell sunglasses in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
At the other end of the spectrum, horn-rimmed and browline glasses lent a serious look to famous intellectuals like Malcolm X, and John Lennon was famous for his wire-frame, round sunglasses. Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol were often seen out in square sunglasses, and Ray-Ban took aviator sunglasses — originally developed for pilots — to a new and very cool level.
Rimless glasses and tortoiseshell eyeglass frames were also part of the mix, along with decorative elements like pearls, rhinestones, and flowers.
Many of the same shapes can still be found in styles today. Let’s take a look at some popular Pair Eyewear ’60s-style glasses that have been updated for modern times, while still keeping that vintage frame look.
Vintage 1960s-Style Glasses for You
If you want to encapsulate a bit of that revolutionary yet stylish spirit, try one of these popular types of ’60s-style glasses that still work today.
’60s-Style Cat-Eye Glasses
The upswept corners of cat-eye frames create a very feminine look that flatters many different face shapes. First invented in the 1920s, they were inspired by the shape of harlequin masks, and they’ve stood the test of time. Both Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn wore vintage cat-eye sunglasses with style during the ’60s, and they’re still extremely popular today.
If you have a narrower face or are naturally petite, try the dainty Ella for a glamorous look that never fails. If your face is a bit wider, or you’re wanting a stylish oversized look, The Wanda is the way to go.
Turn your cat-eye glasses into classic sunglasses with a pair of SunTops in a color of your choice. Black cat-eyes are especially glamorous, and popular with celebrities. Or if you’re looking for something more versatile, choose light-responsive lenses, so you can wear them indoors and out.
Vintage ’60s Rectangular Browline Glasses and Vintage Sunglasses
While cat-eyes were often worn by women in the ’60s, browline and then horn-rimmed glasses were considered more masculine. Of course, these days browline and horn-rimmed glasses are often unisex and can look good on anyone.
Although round styles do exist, horn-rimmed glasses are very often rectangular shaped, which better suits round, oval, or heart-shaped faces. Our Virtual Try-On feature can help you explore which style works best for you. Also check out our size guide, which may help you choose.
For example, The Kirby is our biggest frame and works well for wider faces, whereas The Larkin is best for a narrower face. The Finley and The Casper fall between these two and suit medium-width faces.
Horn-rimmed glasses were originally made from shell or animal horn (hence their name) but they’re now usually made of cellulose acetate, which is extremely hard-wearing and easier to manufacture.
Get that ’60s-style look by choosing dark glasses frames for your rectangular glasses, like classic black or tortoiseshell. Or recreate the browline style — with thicker and darker upper frames that mimic eyebrows — by choosing a two-tone Top Frame, like the Cobalt Split. Rectangular styles also make very fashionable retro sunglasses.
Retro ’60s-Style Round Glasses
Round eyeglasses were the original shape, from way back in the 13th century, and they’ve only become more stylish since. Although they never really went out of fashion, they were popularized again in the 1960s by Jackie O and John Lennon — although the sizes of round glasses they wore were vastly different.
If you have a more angular face, round ’60s-style glasses may well suit you. They can also work well with oval and heart-shaped faces.
Our Pair Eyewear round glasses come in four different variations. The Soto has a medium-sized frame and is a classic shape, with a keyhole nose bridge to ease pressure on the top of the nose. For wider faces, The Otis works best, while The Reese is for narrow faces. For an extremely narrow face, try The Twain.
For your frames, choose from a light and fun ’60s-style glasses option like the Rainbow Tie-Dye, or get a bit more serious with a design like the Navy Pin Dot.
What to Wear With Your ’60s-Style Glasses
Wear your ’60s-style glasses with a Mod-style mini-skirt with knee-high boots and a bell-sleeve shirt in bold colors or prints. Or go understated with denim jeans and a white T-shirt. Add a bob or beehive hairstyle, and you’ll be ready to go. Remember that the ’60s were all about expressing yourself, so feel free to do exactly that!
Where to Get Your Retro ’60s-Style Eyewear
Whether you’re looking for single-vision prescription reading glasses or distance glasses, progressive lenses, or sunglasses, Pair Eyewear is the place to start.
Use our Virtual Try-On feature to choose your ideal Base Frame. Then you get to select from a wide range of Top Frames. These attach magnetically to the Base Frame and you can swap them out as you choose, depending on the look you’re aiming for or your mood at the moment.
You can also add extra features, like a blue-light filter to protect your eyes when you’re working on a device or watching TV, or light-responsive lenses that darken when you go outside. And all our glasses are scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and 100% UV-resistant.
Add the fact that our eyewear is available starting at just $60, including your prescription, and that’s a hard offer to beat.
Get Your Vintage Eyewear Today
’60s-style glasses came in many different shapes and were iconic in their own right, reflecting the revolutionary spirit of the time. For the first time, most were made of plastic and could therefore be manufactured in a wide range of colors and styles. Heavily influenced by celebrities, cat-eye, rectangular browline, and round glasses were popular.
Get your ’60s-style glasses from Pair Eyewear today, along with your choice of stylish Top Frames to suit your every need — or whim. When you wear them, channel that ’60s spirit in your clothes and your outlook. Groovy!