There’s no denying that fashion frames have undergone massive changes since they were first introduced in the 1300s. And for that, we couldn’t be any more grateful, thanks to those early innovations, we now have countless silhouettes to choose from today. Let's take a look at the rise in popularity of this frame; from its inception as the lightweight round frame in the 1920s to its modern nostalgic look that we’re more familiar with today.
The 1910s Not just style, but story too with the Pince-Nez
Say hello to the very first wire frame glasses! Famously known for having no arms but clipping onto the bridge of the nose instead, these spectacles get their names from the French terms “to pinch” and “the nose”. Developed in Europe during the 1400s, it was only after they arrived in the United States in the 1900s that they truly saw a rise in popularity.
The 1920s: Hello & goodbye to the wireframe:
Enter: Hollywood motions pictures, fashion and culture. These three aspects significantly affected the perception of glasses. Celebrities were often seen adorning a snazzy pair of specs which helped elevate their repertoire as a fashion accessory. Most popular during this time were lightweight lenses and round wire frames. As fashionable as these pieces were, they tended to be heavy and weren't the most comfortable.
The 1940s The naughty forties and highbrow, browline
Glasses’ frames in the 1940s were like no other. We’re still borrowing style cues from this era almost 80 years later.
Thanks to Hollywood it was the Browline that emerged as the decade favourite. This is most distinct with a thicker top, and thinner wire frame on the lower half of the glasses. So popular was the browline that it ended up grossing almost 50 % of all glasses sales that decade. These frames combined plastic and metal to create a style that followed the contours of the face.
1950s Cat Eyes for the gals, Wayfarers for the guys
As the decade turned, so did the preference for glasses silhouettes. Borrowing aesthetics from the decade before it, a heavier browline remained a popular choice. Emerging as the younger, cooler, siblings we had the ever-popular cat-eye for ladies and horn-rimmed and wayfarer shapes for men. Both styles saw an emphasis placed on the top half of the glasses frame with a thinner wire frame along the bottom, creating a seamless look that even the most famous of Hollywood royals would adorn, like Marylin Monroe.
The 1960s Bigger is Better (sometimes)
As it would turn out, two groups of people would emerge as eyeglasses wearers during this time. The mods; who were into oversized, unique geometric wire frame shapes, and the flower children; who would often opt for round wire frames with coloured lenses instead.
1980s Big is Back
Moving more towards usability as opposed to creating fashion statements only, glasses in the 1980s tended to be lightweight and practical for everyday use. While glasses remained oversized, metal frames began to make a comeback and would often be accompanied by unique decorative detail along the sides.
The 1990s Welcome back wire
This is the decade the wireframe made its full-time comeback. Coming into the mainstream once more, this decade's glasses favoured a thinner wireframe while keeping an oversized look. Those into sports-luxe fashion ensembles would often opt for half-rimmed wrap around sunglasses while keeping the mirrored lenses of the 80s. While the minimalist would opt for a smaller, and simpler wire frame to compliment their look.
The 2000s Let’s get wired
This decade stands out as perhaps the only decade without one singular, distinct look, but rather an array of silhouettes accompanied by varying advances in tech to help with eye care. From transition lenses to bifocals, tech in glasses was at an all-time high while frames would go from square plastic lenses to the rectangular wireframe or the invisible wireframe altogether.
2020 and beyond
It's as if this decade combined all of the best silhouettes of the last 100 years and brought them out for us to choose from. From transparent frames to oversized plastic silhouettes, from vintage-inspired circular frames, to contemporary wire glasses that complement the glasses wearer’s style. This decade had no bounds or limits when it came to choosing a frame and that is exactly how we like it. Even now in 2020, the wire frame is here to stay, only getting better and better in shape and style.
Date Published: 09 July 2020