International Women’s Day 2019 – The Evolution of Women’s Eyewear

Shock, dismay and judgement. That’s the reaction a woman used to get if she dared to wear a pair of glasses in public. Yes, you heard right, go back 150 years and it was considered rude and unsightly for a woman to be seen in such a thing. Thankfully today, on International Women’s Day 2019, you’ll see women of all ages and races confidently sporting glasses to suit their style. Glasses for women are about more than function, they are about expressing your identity, something we are passionate about at Safarian & Simon Opticians.

Looking back through history, you can see how trends in women’s eyewear have evolved with the empowerment of the women who wore them.

A turning point at the turn of the Century

As Queen Victoria’s reign ended, the taboo of women wearing glasses started to break. It started with high society women wearing the pince-nez, a decidedly impractical pair of glasses lacking arms and instead relying on pinching the nose.

As the women’s rights movement grew, eventually resulting in the right to vote in 1928, middle-class women began wearing small, round wire-frame glasses with, at last, arms.

From the fraught 1930s to the rocking 1950s

Small, round glasses continued to be popular throughout the 1930s, with wire-frames replaced with celluloid plastic. Glasses truly started to become a sought-after fashion item after World War II. Marilyn Monroe popularised the brow line style of a heavy plastic brow bar complemented by a thinner metal bottom half.

The oh-so-glamourous Marilyn Monroe wearing her trademark cat-eye glasses…


She also sported cat-eye glasses which soon became a mark of glamour, contrasting the still entrenched ideas of a woman’s place being at home in the kitchen.

The swinging sixties and seventies

Women’s rights roared back onto headlines with a vigour not seen since the suffragettes. Women marched and protested, calling for equal rights in the workplace and equal pay. Celebrating the multitude of roles woman could play, trends in women’s glasses diversified, from geometric shapes to oversized bug-eye glasses. The latter made famous by Jackie Kennedy.

The one and only Jackie Kennedy in her famous bug-eye oversized glasses.


By the 1970s, women’s glasses styles took on more masculine looks with rectangular aviator glasses, subverting gender stereotypes.

Lynda Carter, A.K.A. Wonder Woman, and former Miss World America 1972 styling out these oversized, masculine looking rectangular glasses rather well!


A new wave of feminism

In the 1980s the UK had not long seen its first female prime minister come to power. Women in the public eye emulated strength and power, not just with those shoulder pads, but with Wayfarer style glasses worn by the likes of Madonna.

A new wave of feminism took hold in the 1990s, with small, round frames coming back in vogue, harking back to battles for equality many decades earlier.

Small, round, tinted glasses from the 1990s!


Whatever you want today

Today, you can pick any style from any era, past or present and still look ‘on-trend’. Be fashionable, be fierce, be whatever you want to be with your glasses!

At Safarian & Simon Opticians we can help you find a style that fits your personality, from feminine Chanel sunglasses and minimalist Lindberg titanium glasses, to rimless and thick, bold frames, it’s your choice. Visit us today or call us on 020 7722 1917 to free yourself and make your statement with glasses for women!

Happy International Women’s Day from all the team at Safarian & Simon!