Retro sunglasses are styles that were popular in previous decades. These glasses include aviator, oversized, wayfarer, and wraparounds. Retro glasses are most often worn in conjunction with retro clothing to create a vintage style. Many retro style glasses are still available as new purchases in sunglasses stores but for actual originals, buyers usually resort to thrift stores, garage sales, and online auction sites such as eBay.
Pilots in the 1940s wore aviator sunglasses in an effort to reflect the glare of the sun during flight. The sunglasses had a wire-rimmed frame and the lenses were made of mirrored reflective material. When worn, the eyes were not visible and when looking at the wearer, the person would only see a reflection of himself. The sunglasses later became a popular fashion accessory after being worn by Tom Cruise’s character in the hit movie "Top Gun."
Another style of retro sunglasses for men and women is the Wayfarer. Originally designed in 1952 by the Ray-Ban Company, the Wayfarer was advanced for the time due to its plastic injection molded manufacturing process. The sunglasses had frames composed of plastic instead of metal, which made them much lighter. The frames were shaped like a trapezoid and came to a point on the upper outside of each lens.
During the 1980s, Wayfarers were one of the top selling sunglasses when the glasses started showing up in movies and television shows. The Ray-Ban Company had collaborated with film companies and signed a product placement deal. Two of the most notable movies featuring main characters wearing wayfarers were 1980’s "Blues Brothers" and 1983’s "Risky Business."
Wraparounds are a style of retro sunglasses worn by either men or women. As the name suggests, wraparounds include darkened lenses on the side of the face in addition to the front. The glasses are typically constructed from molded plastic and are designed to protect the eyes from harsh sunlight. Wraparounds may also be worn as eye protectors for people engaged in sports, yard work, or activities that may cause airborne debris.
Oversized retro sunglasses were manufactured by a variety of companies but were relatively similar in design. The most common aspect of oversized glasses is the rounded frame that completely covered the eye and surrounding part of the face. Oversized sunglasses are usually worn by women and became wildly popular during the 1960s after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wore them. Later known as “Jackie-Os,” these sunglasses are still popular today.