We all understand the importance of wearing sunscreen if we’re going to be spending time outdoors, but do you understand the importance of wearing sunglasses in general? While it is important to understand the dos and don’ts of wearing sunglasses, it is important to note they are absolutely essential for the health of your eyes. Similar to the way sunscreen protects your skin, sunglasses protect your eyes from damage caused by the sun, but they weren’t initially worn for that reason.

In 12th century China, the first pair of shades appeared on judges who were attempting to hide their emotions in court. Their sunglasses were made of quartz and most likely didn’t resemble what we wear today.

Lets travel back in time to some of the most memorable sunglass styles throughout the decades…

In the 1920’s…
The summertime tradition of wearing sunglasses to the beach most likely began in Atlantic City, NJ in 1929 when plastics developer Sam Foster began selling round and cat eye shaped protective lenses in Woolworth stores along the boardwalk. The trend grew from a beach accessory to an everyday fashion statement around the globe.

In the 1930’s & 1940’s…
As they became more popular, sunglasses began to be offered in faux tortoise shell and brightly colored frames. In 1936, Edwin H. Land who used his patented Polaroid filter brought polarized lenses to the marketplace. Movie stars began wearing sunglasses in public and the trend grew to worldwide proportions.

In the 1950’s & 1960’s????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Cat eye frames were all the rage; from movie stars like Marilyn Monroe to Grace Kelly and Princess Margaret. By far the most iconic example of famous sunglass wearers was Audrey Hepburn who proudly wore the round, wide frames throughout the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She is second only to Jackie O who even wore the round frames to the funeral of her husband, John F. Kennedy. By the end of the 1960’s sunglass frames became wider.

In the 1970’s & 1980’s
Along with leisure suits and discos came an age of anything goes… even when it came to sunglasses. Jackie O continued to wow us with her sense of fashion, sporting even square styles, always covering much of her face. Elton John is perhaps the most iconic example from this era. To this day he is still wearing small wirey frames with colored lenses like he wore in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In the 1980’s & 1990’s…
Among the most popular sunglasses of the 1980’s and 1990’s are aviator sunglasses much like those worn by Tom Cruise and the cast from Top Gun (1986).

2000’s & Beyond…
All good trends are repeated. Search ‘Nina Ricci sunglasses’, for example, and you’ll see what I mean. We’re seeing young stars like Scarlett Johannson, Lindsay Lohan and many more revive the styles of the 1960’s with their cat eye frames, but it’s not all about WHAT you wear. It’s HOW and WHERE you wear your stylish frames.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of wearing sunglasses:

  • DON’T wear sunglasses as a headband. If you need a headband to keep your hair off your face, consider using a scarf. It’s practical and adds color to your outfit.
  • DON’T wear the trendiest sunglasses if they don’t reflect your personality or professionalism. Select a more conservative pair if you’re going to be wearing them around your clients.
  • DON’T wear sunglasses that are damaged, just as you don’t wear shoes that are damaged. Make an investment in yourself and purchase a new pair.
  • DO make sure they are UVA or UVB protected. That’s the same protection your skin gets when you use sunscreen.
  • DO get prescription sunglasses if you wear prescription eyeglasses. Or get transition coating on your prescription eyeglasses. This coating gradually darkens as the sunlight gets brighter. You want to be able to see your best AND have your eyes protected while you’re in the sunlight.
  • DO remove sunglasses when you’re conducting business. People do business with others they know, like, and trust. Letting them see your eyes is a sign that you’re trustworthy.
  • DO remove sunglasses if you are indoors. The only time you want to wear them is when you are driving, at the beach, in the yard or participating in any other activity where you are in the sunshine.
  • DO have more than one pair of sunglasses, as they are a unique and individual fashion accessory item.

Whether you want to be trendy, stylish or just want to protect your eyes, there’s a pair for everyone. Grab a pair that reflects your personality and have fun. Here’s to your eye health and your style!