Tortoise shell effect frames have been one of the most enduring eyewear styles for decades. It’s popularity stems from its distinctive, mottled appearance, and the warm colour way when against the face. The beautiful warm brown and amber tones prove flattering on a variety of different skin tones and offer a softer option for fair skin types where black may prove too harsh.
Originally, genuine tortoise shell was used, despite its expense to obtain but in 1973, however, the trade of tortoise shell word-wide was banned. From then on, ‘tortoise shell’ frames for glasses and sunglasses were manufactured from synthetic materials, such as acetate. Although its material changed, the popularity of tortoiseshell continues with all the major designers from Miu Miu to Ray Ban offering the latest frame shape in this flattering shade.
Each brand has their own unique take on the shapes of the frames and the tones of the tortoise shell colours, from bold mustard colours, to two toned crystal styles, the effortless colour way seems to know no bounds. These DVF sunglasses use tortoise shell colours on angular cat-eye frames, with sleek black arms – an updated style given a vintage twist with classic colours.
More recently, with the ‘’geek chic’’ trend growing in popularity, many find themselves opting for round tortoise shell frames. The round throw-back look combines perfectly with tortoise shell, because it is essentially a vintage material – making it the perfect compliment between timeless colours and a retro look.
Many people say it’s the universally flattering colour way that only seems to enhance regardless of their skin tone or hair colour.
But is it all purely aesthetic?
All the women in my family have tortoiseshell glasses in some respect, whether its sunglasses or reading frames, each one from a different decade, a different shape to represent the popularity at the time, but consistently that same mottled colours flattering the faces of seemingly everyone. An impressive feat for a simple shade of frame to achieve – three generations, one colour way of glasses, each pair timeless and showing no signs of waning in popularity.
I can’t think of any other eyewear colour way that have had quite the same longevity… can you?