Posted on Oct 30, 2012 in All Blog Posts, Fashion

The eyes have it – in 50 Shades of Gray…and green, and blue, and….

Who could resist these every-so-hip, flirty, fun sunglasses?   The tangy lime linen provides a zesty backdrop for frames and lenses of electric turquoise.  Randomly scattered, like kids rolling down a hill for pure fun, these frames give a tip of the hat to vintage, while barreling headlong down the highway toward modernism. “Shades” have always carried the cachet of cool.

The frames you see here made their foray into fashion in the 1950’s, an era when folks forsook cities for the suburbs,and swapped the subway for the open road.  If they were lucky, they might snag a convertible along the way, or somebody who had one.  Sunglasses were de rigueur for trekking and traveling On the Road like Jack Kerouac.

If you carried sunglasses in your pocket or purse, the subtext was you had time to lounge or “hang out.”  You were more than a secretary slaving over a hot keyboard by day and a hot stove by night. You were a free spirit.  Sporting chic shades, you could, for just a moment, be Marilyn Monroe shielding her eyes from the glare of paparazzi flashbulbs, or Ava Gardner, poolside in Beverly Hills, leaning in for Sinatra to light her cigarette. (Even if, in truth, you were perched on a park bench munching PB&J from a brown paper bag.)

Whether Kate Moss in her big blues

Or Audrey Hepburn petit déjeuner a la Tiffany’s

From Top Gun

To The Terminator

James Bond

to Elton John


Men in Black

to The Blues Brothers

Gregory Peck

to Jackie O

Your specs allow you to cop an attitude…

Many 1950-60’sframes sported the “cat eye” style of upswept corners, considered sexy and alluring.











A swirl of confetti burst from the center of this fashion hankie which sports fun and frivolous frames at all four corners.







Whether plaid

or bamboo


Cat eye

or Alien from outer space


This hankie says, “It’s summer, it’s sunny, pop the top on the convertible and let’s cruise.’’

Anything in beautiful shades of blue and relating to eyes calls to mind two stars who both possessed compelling ice blue eyes   – Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.


I purposely chose b&w photos because sunglasses would hide their piercing blue eyes. You begin to appreciate just how much sunglasses can camouflage.  McQueen, however, became well known for wearing blue lenses .


A pair of McQueen’s Persol folding glasses with custom blue lenses sold at auction in 2006 for (gulp) $60,000.


From the Steve McQueen sale held at The Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, the auction catalog reads – Lot 62:  A pair of 1960s-era ‘foldable’ sunglasses with plastic tortoise shell-like frames and blue lenses; inside right arm reads “Persol;” inside left arm reads “brevett” and “Ratti” (last name of the Italian photographer, Giuseppe Ratti, who invented this eyewear in the 1910s.)


And of course, there’s the quick flirt,
from Risky Business                          .to Lolita


And nobody….N..O..B..O..D..Y  works it like Nicholson, day or night



Afficiados know the styles:  Aviators to Gargoyle, Romeo to Predator, as well as manufacturers: Ray Ban (Top Gun, Men in Black) to Oakley (Mission Impossible II)  to Oliver Goldsmith (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) to Tom Ford (James Bond) to Persol (Casino Royal, The Thomas Crown Affair).


Susan Yelavich, Director, M.A. Design Studies program, Parsons School of Design, claims that the first use of dark glasses had nothing to do with the sun.  Judges in ancient China wore them when they presided in court.  Because the very nature of their position required neutrality, any hint of surprise, disdain etc. needed to be camouflaged.


In the 1970’s when the US was in negotiations for fuel with oil rich foreign countries, their leaders negotiated in dark glasses. Critics decried this tactic, claiming it put the US at a disadvantage. Those wearing dark glasses claimed it was part of their culture. Opponents countered that conferences were held indoors and ran late into the night, precluding the need for protection from the sun.  They contended eye camouflage was one-upmanship, and demanded the removal of sunglasses, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

UV protection aside, sunglasses are indeed a power move.  The wearer is definitely calling the shots, whether to hide, (Jackie O)  flirt, (Lolita) intimidate, (Men in Black) charm, (Tiffany’s) swing, (Blue’s Brothers) seduce, (James Bond) or whatever your heart desires.

Some of today’s glasses sport such prominent designer logos, the wearer deserves a royalty for advertising. The face is usually the first place you focus when meeting someone new, and the eyes are the first place you connect, so clever designers employ an easy venue to impresses their brand on the public.



In contrast, I admire the woman who knows how to wear the shades, rather than let the shades wear her, the woman who is noticed before the logo, or needs no logo at all.  The clever use of palm trees and blue sky reflected in the model’s lenses convey the message this lady has the times and the means to relax and enjoy life. Like the sleek specs on our designer handkerchiefs, she can charm, smile, flirt and entice all on her own, without needing the back-up of a designer label.


Enough about specs.Time to pop yours on, head outside, think naughty thoughts, and see if anyone can guess why you’re smiling behind those shades of gray.



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