The History of Cat Eye Glasses

Cat eye glasses first became popular in the 1950s with their feline inspired style. A huge contrast to the frames that had been in fashion previously, cat eye glasses marked a new era of chic style for women. The glasses were originally created to be worn only with optical lenses, but it was the hugely famous actress Audrey Hepburn that kicked off the trend for cat eye sunglasses after her starring role in 1961 hit film Breakfast at Tiffanys.

The history of cat eye glasses- Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly was seen several times in a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses called the Manhattans by Oliver Goldsmith. This would be the start of something big for cat eye glasses. Previous to Breakfast at Tiffanys, winged out glasses had been worn by Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, but throughout the 60s the style was more accessible to a larger amount of women through the addition of tinted lenses.


This style of glasses has also been associated with some fictional characters too, such as 1978 musical film Grease’s Frenchy and Barry Humphries as his flamboyant character Dame Edna Everidge, who first took a liking to cat eye specs in the early 1960s.

The history of cat eye glasses- Dame EdnaImage by Eva Rinaldi

The original cat eye glasses of the 50s and 60s were exaggerated in shape and often had small lenses that were upturned towards the outside of the face. This style of frame has been through peaks and dips in popularity since withstanding the popularity of round frames, aviator style frames and bug eye glasses in the 70s.
Cat eye glasses, and especially sunglasses, today have larger rounder lenses that suit a variety of face shapes and have large but gentle winging out of the frames. In recent years we’ve seen the feline frames gracing the faces of stars such as Jessica Alba, Olivia Palermo, Dita Von Teese, Nicole Richie, Katy Perry and Zoe Saldana, to name just a few.

Image from Tumblr

Compared with the past, cat eye frames available at the moment have a more subtle and chic appearance, depending on the particular choice of frames. Thick dark frames like the Converse Jack Purcell P001 make a sophisticated statement, while thinner frames like the Anna Sui AS214A are more playful and can be more flattering on some face shapes.
Versace coloured cat eye glasses

Some glasses wearers steer clear of coloured frames, but these work very well for cat eye shapes as they play on the idea of modern pin-up fashion. A number of designers have introduced coloured winged out frames, such as the Versace VE3191 glasses, and these are a playful reminder of this iconic glasses style’s past.

Shop all Cat-Eye styles here!

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