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The History of Modern Eyewear...and the Most Iconic Eyewear Styles!

Black eyelgasses
Frames by Barton Perreira

Eyewear has become an essential accessory for both fashion and function in modern times. From correcting vision to making a bold fashion statement, eyewear has evolved significantly over the years.

At Rivertown Eye Care, our passionate and talented opticians will help you find the perfect frames that match your personal style and vision needs. We carry a hand-selected range of independent, designer eyewear brands that handcraft each frame using the highest quality materials- with sustainability in mind!

Call to schedule a personal session with one of our talented opticians, and find your new favorite pair of glasses.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of modern eyewear and the most iconic, classic eyewear styles.

The History of Modern Eyewear

The use of eyewear dates back to ancient times when people used various objects to protect their eyes from the sun and dust. In the 13th century, eyeglasses were invented in Italy, which marked the beginning of modern eyewear. These glasses were made with convex lenses that helped to correct farsightedness.

Medieval illustration of eyewear
The use of corrective eyewear can be seen as far back at the 13th century.

The next significant development in the history of eyewear was the invention of bifocal lenses in the 18th century by Benjamin Franklin. Bifocals allowed people with both nearsightedness and farsightedness to see clearly through the same lenses.

In the 19th century, eyeglasses became more stylish and began to be worn as a fashion accessory. The introduction of mass production techniques in the eyewear industry made glasses more affordable and accessible to the general public.

During the 20th century, eyewear became even more fashionable with the rise of Hollywood movies and celebrity culture. Many famous actors and actresses were seen wearing stylish glasses, which led to a surge in demand for fashionable eyewear. This led to the creation of various iconic, classic eyewear styles that are still popular today.


The Most Iconic, Classic Eyewear Styles.

Timeless and Adventurous: The Aviator Glasses

Movie still from Top Gun, Tom Cruise in flight gear
Tom Cruise in "Top Gun"

Aviator glasses were originally designed for pilots in the 1930s. These glasses were designed to protect pilots' eyes from the bright sunlight and glare at high altitudes.

Aviator glasses have a distinctive tear-drop shape and were made with green or gray lenses. Today, aviator glasses are a popular style for both men and women.

Our recommendation: Maui Jim

Polarized technology protects eyes from the sun's intense glare and harmful UV rays while still revealing the brilliant colors of life.


Classic Cool: Wayfarer Glasses

Wayfarer glasses were introduced in the 1950s and became popular during the 1960s. These glasses have a distinctive trapezoidal shape and were made with plastic frames. Wayfarer glasses were popularized by celebrities such as James Dean, Buddy Holly, and Audrey Hepburn and have remained a popular choice for both men and women ever since.

Our recommendation: Barton Perreira

Design without compromise. Responsible luxury eyewear intended to be worn season after season.


Bold and Creative: Round Glasses

Round glasses are another classic style of eyewear that have been popular for decades. These glasses were first introduced in the 1920s, and became a symbol of the 1960s and 1970s. This style was worn by many famous musicians such as John Lennon and Janis Joplin. These glasses have a circular shape and are often associated with the ‘hippie’ movement. Today, round glasses are still popular and can be found in various styles and colors.

Our recommendation: Etnia Barcelona

Distinctive eyewear balanced between quality, function, and design; character and emotion – making the eyewear as unique as the face wearing it.


Chic and Stylish: Cat-Eye Glasses

Black and white photo of Grace Kelly wearing cat-eye glasses
Grace Kelly, 1962

Cat-eye glasses became popular in the 1950s and were worn by many famous actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.

These glasses have a distinctive shape that resembles a cat's eye and are often decorated with rhinestones or other embellishments. Cat-eye glasses are still popular today and are often associated with vintage fashion.

Our recommendation: Face à Face

With exquisite combinations of materials, unique shapes and vibrant color palettes, it is more than just a brand. It's a reflection of the best the world has to offer.


Minimal and Modern: Rectangular Glasses

Rectangular glasses have a classic shape and are often associated with a more formal, professional look. Frameless lenses give a nod to the minimalism of the 1990s.

These glasses are often made with metal frames and have an understated design. Rectangular glasses are a popular style for both men and women and can be found in various sizes and colors. They tend to be lightweight and airy.

Our recommendation: Silhouette

Iconic eyewear made in Austria since 1964. Empowered by lightness.


A Symbol of Style: The Clubmaster.

This style first gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Clubmasters are characterized by their bold, plastic frames and metal accents on the top of the lenses. They were popularized by figures like Malcolm X and have remained a classic style ever since.

Our recommendation: Maui Jim

Our recommendation: Prodesign Denmark

Prodesign was founded on the firm belief that eyewear can be so much more than its function.


The Importance of Finding the Perfect Eyewear

Eyewear has come a long way since its invention in the 13th century– it has become an important fashion accessory that can make a statement about who you are and what you stand for. From correcting vision to making a fashion statement, eyewear has evolved significantly over the years.

Today, there are many iconic, classic eyewear styles that are still popular and continue to influence fashion trends. Whether you prefer aviator glasses, wayfarer glasses, round glasses, cat-eye glasses, or rectangular glasses, there is a style that will suit your taste and personality.

Our team at Rivertown thoughtfully hand-selects our eyewear collection to bring you the most unique, well made, and beautifully designed eyewear available.

Call to schedule your appointment to try on styles in our optical department.


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