There are certain styles of sunglasses that seem to always be in style. While other fashion trends come and go, they remain stalwart and steadfast. Aviators and wayfarers immediately come to mind. So do cat eyes. Among the three, cat eyes are the hottest for summer 2020.
So what is the appeal of cat eye sunglasses? We think MSN contributor Mia Maguire may have been on to something with a post she wrote in early July. In that post, Maguire described cat eyes as “equal parts retro and contemporary”. That sums it up nicely.
Something Nicer for Women
It turns out that cat eyes were not always known by that name. When the frames were first designed, they were called ‘Harlequin’ frames because their designer, Altina Schinasi, was inspired by Italy’s famous Harlequin masks. According to Schinasi herself, the idea for designing the frames was birthed from a desire to make eyeglasses that were more attractive for women.
As the story goes, Schinasi was walking by an optician’s office and noticed just how boring eyeglasses were. It was the 1930s. She decided she wanted more interesting frames. Specifically, she wanted something more interesting for women. It was her opinion that the eyeglasses of the day made women look too much like Ben Franklin.
Out of her desire to make more attractive eyeglasses came what we now call ‘cat eyes’. Schinasi enjoyed moderate success early on. Her new Harlequin frames gradually became the thing among customers willing to buy their eyeglasses in boutiques rather than mainline opticians. From there the trend grew until, by the time the 1950s rolled around, celebrities and homemakers alike all wanted a pair.
A Reminder of Past Days
Knowing the history makes it easy to understand the retro appeal of cat eyes. They remind us of past days, days when life seemed easier and simpler. Our perceptions of the past are probably not accurate, but nostalgia is a wonderful thing. And cat eye sunglasses are nostalgic if nothing else.
They remind us of 1950s and 60s celebrities. They remind us of the golden age of film and the starlets who used to populate movie house screens. And though we are more likely to talk about buying sunglasses in bulk these days, cat eyes remind us of a time before retail superstores; a time when you could only buy sunglasses by visiting a boutique.
A Bit of Contemporary
Fashion is a strange enterprise thanks to its cyclical nature. If you follow fashion, you know things come and go with regularity. The strange thing is that certain styles – like cat eyes – never completely fade away, yet with each new wave they are considered contemporary.
Maybe it’s that longing for the experience of days gone by that fuels the fire. Perhaps it is now considered contemporary to look back on the 1930s and the postwar years with nostalgia. That would explain cat eye sunglasses alongside more modern designs at all of the most trendy retailers.
It doesn’t hurt that cat eye sunglasses don’t have to be oval or teardrop to qualify. We have seen rectangular frames with the upturned cat eye corner still marketed as cat eyes. People love them. The thing about the cat eye style is that it is versatile. You can take the original idea and adapt it to modern sensibilities for a truly contemporary look.
And now you know the appeal of cat eye sunglasses. When you are ready to place your next order of bulk sunglasses with us here at Olympic Eyewear, do not forget to include some cat eyes.