Throughout the 20th century, sunglasses were a decisive marker of changing style tastes. Fashion breakthroughs in the 1960s began to encourage more innovative frames, where new styles donned the faces of well-known trend setters during the 70s and 80s.
By the late 60s, Roy Orbison had made a statement with his rimmed dark frames, normalising an onstage sunglasses lifestyle, whilst Twiggy’s large, colourful sunglasses were a sign of things to come in terms of oversized accessories and unexpected design combinations.
From aviators to tinted lenses, the 1970s saw an exciting range of sunglasses styles, where fashion tastes developed adjacent to the ever-evolving music and cultural scene. Read on for an overview of 70s sunglasses, with a look at the famous faces who most memorably wore them.
The rise of celebrity culture in the 1960s and 70s saw an increase in popularity for oversized frames and dark lenses. By the 1970s, exaggerated sunglasses were a style staple, where they could be paired with minimal make-up looks and exaggerated hairstyles. These were popularised by various musicians and style icons, such as Stevie Nicks, Diana Ross and Bianca Jagger.
The cultural and musical developments of the decade facilitated an explosion of colour on the fashion scene, where tinted lenses of all kinds were starting to be worn. Elton John for instance was known for his rose and orange tinted eyewear, whilst American journalist and 70s icon Hunter S. Thompson was associated with his famous yellow tinted and framed sunglasses.
These iconic large lens sunglasses were first made available to civilians in 1937, mimicking military eyewear. The teardrop design was employed to cover the whole eye, allowing pilots to work safely in bright sunlight. By the 1970s, they were a mainstream fashion staple sold under the Ray-Ban brand, notably worn by 70s rock stars like Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger.
The 1970s saw the continuing popularity of plastic framed sunglasses, with their ease of mass production and variety of styles. In particular, clear plastic or perspex eyewear became more widespread throughout the decade, worn by the influential visual artist Andy Warhol, who also sported a selection of round horn tortoise shell eyewear.
Colours & Adornments
Sunglasses in a variety of colours complemented the vibrancy of the disco and popular music scene throughout the decade, where frames were adorned with crystals for extra sparkle. Known for their era-defining fashion moments, these eye-catching accessories were often worn by the likes of Cher and Dolly Parton. Elton John was also known for his adorned sunglasses, where he often sported exaggerated frames.
70s Icons & Their Eyewear
Several other sunglasses wearers define this decade, including Elvis Presley, whose Neostyle Nautic eyewear was designed especially for his 1972 Madison Square Garden performance, and were worn subsequently by the star.
Sunglasses were also a must have accessory for 70s movie stars. Jack Nicholson often sported flattering D-shaped frames, whilst Warren Beatty showed a preference for square brow-line sunglasses throughout his career.
Jackie Onassis, formerly Kennedy, pivoted into the 1970s as a definitive style icon, well-known for her oversized black oval frames. David Bowie’s dark shades with a thin metallic frame were also a memorable accessory, worn in his 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, where he sports a lightly tinted version for his Rolling Stone cover that year.
Known for his iconic owl-eyed round frames, John Lennon spent the decade in similar rounded sunglasses, where Lennon and Yoko Ono are often pictured in sets of matching dark-lensed eyewear.
Ed & Sarna Vintage Eyewear: Vintage Designer Sunglasses To Suit Your Style
At Ed & Sarna, we guarantee that all our eyewear is true unworn designer vintage, with pieces from the 60s, 70s and 80s. All our frames are fitted with UV protective lenses, offering excellent eye protection alongside one-of-a-kind style.
Our comprehensive range of vintage sunglasses includes cateye, clubmaster and butterfly styles, where we also offer a range of stylish aviator frames. We further supply a broad range of colourful custom lenses, from petrol blue to light amber, giving you that classic 70s feel.
In addition to stylish shades, we also stock prescription glasses, where we can fit our vintage frames with lenses chosen specially for you. For all our eyewear we also offer a bespoke online eyewear consultation service, as well as the option to try on your new frames in the comfort of your own home.
For all UK orders we provide completely free delivery and free returns for 30 days, so you can buy with total confidence. Contact us today to find out more about our stylish range of vintage glasses, or to learn more about our prescription service.