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What’s the connection between sunglasses, Hollywood and World War II?
You might not realise it, but sunglasses are fashionable today mainly because of two things: World War II and Hollywood. Early movie stars took to wearing them because the lighting of early film studios was so harsh, and their eyes needed protecting between scenes, while in World War II many soldiers wore sunglasses to protect themselves from the flashes of explosions. When photos of these things started to reach a mass audience, they wanted to know where they could buy the sunglasses for themselves, and an instant fashion craze was born.
The stories of how specific kinds of sunglasses became fashionable tend to look quite similar: a specific celebrity or admirable kind of person started wearing them, and it spread from there. Ray-bans (also known as wayfarers) were popularised by James Dean in the 1950s. The most fashionable sunglasses for women at the moment are known as Onassis sunglasses, after President Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – they are very large sunglasses, and similar to the ones she wore. Sixties ‘hippies’ like John Lennon wore wire-rimmed sunglasses, supposedly to hide the red eyes caused by their use of drugs, while ‘cop’ sunglasses are reflective glasses worn by police officers, most famously by officers of the FBI. Every one of these types of sunglasses has become fashionable because their wearers were (or still are) considered cool.
So how do you know which sunglasses are fashionable right now? A good start is to look at what celebrities are wearing – mainly Onassis glasses, as they want to hide their eyes from photographers. Oakley sunglasses are also very popular right now, as they are the first sunglasses to feature a built-in mp3 player, allowing you to listen to music with your glasses instead of having to use earphones and a separate player. It is even possible to get a combination of the two styles, for the ultimate in fashion sunglasses.
About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of