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How to Choose ‘90s Sunglasses That Suit Your Style Today

Ah, the ‘90s. If you’re old enough to look back on that decade with a feeling of nostalgia, you’ll be happy to know that ‘90s sunglasses are back in style again.

Often described as The Good Decade, the ‘90s enjoyed a stable economy, iconic movies and TV shows, and simplicity and self-expression. So how did ‘90s eyewear reflect that then and — because fashion is cyclical — now?

Let’s review what was going on in the ‘90s and rediscover some popular ‘90s sunglasses styles that are back and trendy as ever. You may even be inspired to order a pair or two yourself, whether you remember those days or not.

What Was Happening in ‘90s Fashion?

The ‘80s were flashy, to say the least, with plenty of bling to go around. As the world moved into the ‘90s, fashion shifted from shoulder pads, big-frame sunglasses, and even bigger hair into a more subtle, minimalistic look.

To the accompaniment of music ranging from grunge and hip hop to rap and acid house, street styles tended toward casual chic. Think T-shirts or checked shirts over jeans paired with a hoodie, flannel, or denim jacket. At the other end of the spectrum, baby doll dresses or skirt suits were worn with knee socks.

Hairstyles were deliberately messy, scrunchies were in, and, as always, a pair of sunnies finished an outfit nicely.

With a few exceptions, ‘90s sunglasses were more understated and this look is still very popular today.

Are they true vintage sunglasses? That depends on your definition, but retro’s good enough for us!

What Are the Main Features of Retro ‘90s Sunglasses?

90s sunglasses: The Reese

The ‘80s were all about oversized everything — including oversized sunglasses with thick frames. By the time the ‘90s came around, many people were looking for something different.

Apart from hip-hop glasses, which were still extra-large, ‘90s sunglasses were often smaller and more delicate. Small oval frames were especially trendy, a style that has circled back and is now a favorite of many celebrities.

Tortoiseshell, brightly-colored, and multi-toned frames were all on trend. ‘90s sunglasses were also big on colored lenses, like pink, blue, yellow, and red — or very dark lenses for a slightly more rock star look. Tint gradients and two-tone lenses were cool, too, and are still popular today.

If you’re considering a pair of tiny ‘90s sunglasses, bear in mind that you also need to take the size of your face into account. If you choose a style that’s too small, it may make your face look pinched — and it’ll feel uncomfortable to wear. It’s a good idea to consult the size guide for your eyewear retailer to find a pair that fits perfectly.

You may not want to go full ‘90s with your outfit, but there’s no doubt that a pair of retro sunglasses adds a touch of intrigue.

Here’s what to look out for.

A Range of ‘90s Sunglasses Frame Shapes

Frame shapes varied widely but these were some of the most popular styles that are still around today.

Round or Oval Sunglasses

While aviator sunglasses were still all the rage, many people preferred to wear more classic shapes, like round sunglasses or oval frames. These were popularized in the ‘60s, and while they can still evoke a hint of rock and roll, they’ve evolved into a classic chic ‘90s look. They especially suit more angular faces, softening strong lines.

For smaller, round styles, check out The Reese or The Soto.

Cat-Eye Sunglasses

Large cat-eye sunglasses were huge in the ‘80s and they didn’t disappear in the ‘90s — they just got smaller. This classic look with uptilted corners adds edge, a little drama and mystery, and a sense of confidence to your style. It suits many different types of faces, from round to more angular, and everything in between.

Try a pair of slim The Ella cat-eye sunglasses for this trend.

Rectangular Sunglasses and Square Sunglasses

Ranging from rounded squares to slimmer rectangle sunglasses with a flat top, these shapes were popular in the ‘90s for a reason. They offer both style and substance, and they give you great sun protection coverage. A sleek design suits round faces, adding structure and strength.

Take your pick from our range of narrow and medium-sized rectangular frames:

How to Shop ‘90s-Style Frame Shapes Now

When you’re searching for a pair of ‘90s sunglasses to finish off your look, it makes sense to start with frame shapes that work well for your face. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, though, keep going. Every face shape is unique and you might discover that another style suits you perfectly. If your eyewear retailer offers a virtual try-on tool, use that to experiment with different frames.

Sporty, Mirrored Lenses

The Ella

Originally worn as sports sunglasses mainly by aviators and hardcore sports enthusiasts, reflective lenses could be seen everywhere from the beach to the runway in the ‘90s. They deflect some of the glare from the surfaces around you — and they also act like a one-way mirror so you can see without being seen.

How to Shop ‘90s-Style Reflective Lenses Now

When you’re shopping for reflective eyeglasses, you need to consider how the color of the frame and the lenses work together plus how they suit your complexion.

For example, while tortoiseshell frames compliment many different skin colors, adding blue-colored lenses may not flatter you (or the tortoise frames). And while classic black frames look great with most reflective lenses, they may be too stark for your skin. Think about both elements as you browse.

A Word About the Functionality of ‘90s Sunglasses

Even if you don’t need a prescription and you’re buying your ‘90s sunnies purely as fashion sunglasses, why not get some extra features thrown in?

Glare Reduction

All sunglasses have tinted lenses and some even come with a tint gradient, with a darker shade at the top. The colored lenses help to reduce the glare from your surroundings, but depending on how bright the light is, this may not be enough. Surfaces like roads, water, and snow reflect a huge amount of light and can strain your eyes.

If you’re often outdoors, it’s worth investing in polarized lenses. These cut the glare much more effectively, protecting your eyes and — as a bonus — giving you much sharper color contrast.

UV Protection

Too much exposure to the sun can cause all sorts of damage, from wrinkles to macular degeneration. Most sunglasses offer some degree of UV protection, but that can vary widely.

Ideally, you want sunglasses that give you 100% protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Check the sticker on the glasses or the description by the retailer or manufacturer to find out how much protection you’re getting from your sunnies.

Where to Shop Vintage ‘90s Eyewear Today

The Finley

You’ll find all the ‘90s sunglasses styles your heart could desire — and so much more — at Pair Eyewear. Our classic sunglasses Base Frames are designed to suit a range of face shapes, and they’re perfectly paired with our unique selection of magnetic Top Frames.

Top Frames snap on, allowing you to change your look in moments — with just one pair of glasses. That means you can go with a ‘90s style today, then back in time to the ’70s tomorrow, and repeat! Pick from our extensive Collections (be sure to check out our Best Sellers), Collabs, and Limited Edition series.

We can customize your sunglasses to include the prescription lenses you need. You’ll also be happy to know that all Pair glasses come standard with polarized lenses and 100% UV protection.

Pair prescription glasses start from just $60 — and if you checkout with a total of more than $45, you’ll get free standard shipping, too.

Rock Those Stylish ‘90s Sunglasses

The ‘90s were a decade of minimalism and simplicity — compared to the ‘80s, at least. Fashion moved away from over-the-top styles, and sunglasses did, too. With smaller frames and interesting features like mirrored lenses, they reflected the times perfectly. And now they’re back and better than ever.

Shop Pair Eyewear for your ‘90s sunglasses (or for any other decade you feel called toward). Pair sunglasses combine functionality and style perfectly, no matter which year you’d like to live in.