Very few accessories have made more of an impression on pop culture than sunglasses, as the shades sported by celebrities and political figures have come to define their images in the public eye. So powerful are these impressions that, in large part, sunglasses have been immune to passing trends, with brands like Ray-Ban and Persol still selling many of the original designs they introduced in the mid-20th century. While the popularity of each style may have ebbed and flowed over the years, the following frames have embedded themselves in our sartorial consciousness over the past 40 years, making them some of today’s most classic and sought-after styles.
First designed by Ray-Ban in 1952 and immortalized by Tom Cruise in the 1983 film Risky Business, Wayfarers have long been a fail-safe style. The sleek and sturdy design has remained extremely popular since its introduction, and the original Ray-Ban style is still available to purchase ($150, available through mrporter.com). For a twist on the classic style, try these bold blue frames from Cutler and Gross ($595, available through mrporter.com) or Tom Ford’s squared-off pair ($340). (ray-ban.com; cutlerandgross.com; tomford.com)
The enduring appeal of aviators—first introduced by Ray-Ban in the 1930s to help reduce headaches and nausea among pilots—has been captured in films like Tom Cruise’s Top Gun and Johnny Depp’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ray-Ban still sells its original aviator, and like many of the brand’s other classic styles, the frames look remarkably modern ($150, available through mrporter.com). For those who want to embrace the retro look, Tom Ford’s amber-lensed aviators ($395), and Oliver Peoples’ acetate-framed style ($485) evoke a strong sense of ’70s glamour. (mrporter.com; tomford.com; oliverpeoples.com)
First invented by Persol in the 1950s, the style—known for its keyhole-shaped bridge and thick acetate frames—was rendered iconic by Steve McQueen. The original Persol frames sported by McQueen are as stylish as ever ($290, available through sunglasshut.com), but for a more modern style, look for glasses with thinner frames. Both this two-toned pair from Oliver Peoples ($380) and TomFord’s stylish Lucite-look version ($540) offer a perfect update to the cool-kid classic. (sunglasshut.com; oliverpeoples.com; tomford.com)
A popular eyeglass style since the 1920s, John Lennon catapulted round sunglasses into pop culture in the 1960s and ’70s. To keep the style from looking overly hippie, find a pair that features a more substantial frame, like this subtle wood-effect version from Persol ($370, available through sunglasshut.com) or Ray-Ban’s winter-ready gray-and-blue style ($185, available through mrporter.com). The acetate tortoiseshell detail and thin gold wire rims of these Cutler and Gross frames ($495, available through mrporter.com) offer a retro—but not outdated—take on the style. (sunglasshut.com; mrporter.com; cutlerandgross.com)