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, this popular style has retained its spot as a favorite among women and, in recent times, men too.

Whether you need reading glasses, computer specs, or sunglasses, the cat-eye shape is versatile enough for everyday use. And thanks to subtle improvements on the original cat-eye eyeglasses, this vintage style suits every face shape, age, and gender, as you’ll see below.

Who Invented Cat-Eye Glasses?

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

Inspired by the eye shape of a Harlequin mask, which is similar to that of a cat’s eyes, Altina Miranda’s goal was to create eyewear that helped women look and feel attractive. Needless to say, she achieved this and more.

The proof? Celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were seen wearing cat-eye glasses, transforming a simple piece of eyewear into an iconic style. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and you may have seen these frames gracing many famous faces. You probably have worn them at some point or have a pair laying around. Clearly, the appeal of the cat-eye has only intensified over time.

The Many Faces of Cat-Eye Glasses

Woman wearing a pair of cat eye glasses

Since their original design, cat-eye glasses frames have undergone subtle transformations and now suit people from all walks of life.

For starters, you aren’t limited to the retro cat-eye sunglasses that Audrey Hepburn wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Also, while the original cat-eye was designed for women, modern takes on this style have made them suitable for men, too. Think cat-eye glasses with bold browlines and semi-rimless frames in masculine colors. 

To help you select your perfect pair, let’s take a look at the various manifestations of cat-eye glasses.

Top Tip: If you’re not sure whether a particular style will suit you, use our Virtual Try-On tool to get an idea of how that style would look on your face.

The Classic

The classic cat-eye frame shape closely follows the eye silhouette of the Harlequin mask — sharp, upswept edges with a distinctively feline look.

For a modern take on the classic cat-eye, try The Wanda. The full-rim frames instantly draw attention to your eyes for a serious, studious look, especially if you go for a timeless tortoiseshell or solid black frame.

The Wanda’s lens width of 53 millimeters is ideal for medium to wide faces. The angular contours and winged corners help to balance the soft facial curves of round or oval face shapes, while the boxy bottoms play nicely with heart-shaped and square faces.

The Petite

You may have seen a famous model or two sporting tiny cat-eye sunglasses. The extra-small frame size coupled with a flat top only enhances the dramatic tilt at the upper corners, while the rounded bottoms add a hint of softness.

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.

Thanks to its smaller lens width of 51 millimeters, this slim and dainty cat-eye pairs well with oval, square, and heart-shaped faces on the narrow side. It also works well with diamond-shaped and triangular faces.

The Oversized

Fans of the oversized glasses trend will want to try one of our latest cat-eye styles, The Harper or The Quinn.

The Harper is a wide, retro-chic cat-eye frame with a lens width of 54 millimeters. Its fairly angular contours beautifully complement the curves of round, oval, and heart-shaped faces, and balance out triangle-shaped and diamond faces.

The Quinn is a much rounder, modified cat-eye frame with considerable expressive charm. With a lens width of 55 millimeters, it’s the widest of the Pair cat-eye styles. It adds softness to diamond, heart-shaped, and triangular face shapes, and gentle width to oval faces.

Because oversized cat-eye glasses have a large frame width and tend to weigh more, these spectacles must sit comfortably and be well-balanced on your nose bridge.

The Neutrals

When it comes to cat-eye glasses, your color choice makes a huge difference.

Perhaps you want a pair of cat-eye specs that coordinate nicely with your everyday wardrobe. If that sounds like you, consider Base Frames in neutral shades like brown tortoiseshell or black. Crystal clear frames are also wonderfully neutral and minimalistic, and if you fancy transparency but with a little color, go with a clear pastel pink or blue shade.

The Colorful

The Flora & Fauna

So, you want to add some color to your life with your cat-eye glasses? Good choice! Go ahead and explore our magnetic clip-on Top Frames collection. With our Classic Collection — including our Best Sellers and Premium styles — plus Collabs and ever-changing Limited Editions, there’s something for every personality and every occasion.

For example, you might spice up your cat-eye glasses with a two-tone design, like The Black and White, which uses contrasting colors to mimic the classic browline. Or perhaps you’d prefer a more seamless color transition like The Teal to Espresso Gradient.

For a pop of color, go solid with a design like The Hot Pink or embrace a range of hues within a single frame, like The Flora & Fauna.

For those into a bit of bling, you’ll fall in love with our glitter eyeglasses. Our best-selling Silver Sparkle Top Frames and Rose Gold Sun Tops are crowd favorites and the embellishments add a subtle sparkle to elevate your outfit of the day.

And in the ultimate test of versatility, you can transform your regular prescription glasses into prescription sunglasses with our Sun Tops. Simply clip them on for that extra layer of functionality, plus a whole new look.

Why Buy Pair Eyewear?

Pair offers cat-eye reading glasses and non-prescription glasses, as well as prescription specs with single-vision lenses or progressive lenses. The latter is an update on the old-school bifocals your mom or grandma may have worn — now far more stylish and without that nasty vision jump as you move between the different lens areas.

You can also choose from a range of lens upgrades. For example, if you often use electronic devices late at night, blue light blocking lenses can protect your eyes and your sleep. Or if you often move between indoors and outdoors during the day and can’t be bothered to change your glasses, you might choose light-responsive lenses, which automatically darken as the light brightens.

All our lenses are impact- and scratch-resistant and they come standard with anti-reflective lens coatings to protect your eyes from the glare. Our cat-eye frames are made of cellulose acetate with strong spring hinges, so you know they’re tough enough to withstand daily wear and tear, making them a great investment.

Speaking of value for money, Pair glasses start at just $60. You could also add your favorite cat-eye style to your wish list of favorite items, then ask your loved ones to give you a gift card for your birthday.

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.

Cat-Eye Glasses Are for Everyone

The Galaxy Sun Top

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 design, these frames now suit everyone. Bonus: You don’t have to fork over loads of money for these trendy glasses.

Compared to big brands, 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 love to wear — at a fraction of the price.