Over 40 years ago, the only people to wear eyeglasses were the beatniks, the artists, and the people who actually needed vision correction. Oh, there were also the nerds, geeks, and dweebs who likely needed their eyewear but having eyeglasses did not add to their popularity. In fact, it made their reputation worse. People were ridiculed for wearing eyeglasses. As soon as contact lenses became available - eyeglass wearers flocked to buy them.
So, when did wearing eyeglasses become fashionable?
The answer: somewhere around 1987. Just kidding... slightly. The 1980's brought the rise of the supermodel. Fashion designers like Calvin Klein, Jordache, and many others were cashing in on beautiful people wearing their clothes. Then fashion designers got smart. Why just brand shirts and pants when you can start branding accessories and call it "fashion"? CoCo Chanel did this in the 1940's with her famous Chanel no. 5 perfume as well as with her handbag - so why not do the same with eyeglasses? The moment fashion designers started designing their own prescription glasses and made the decision to put them on supermodels and celebrities - eyeglasses became popular and fashionable.
The aftermath was genius. While it took some time, people who formally would not be caught dead in eyeglasses suddenly found themselves wearing glasses. Die-hard label wearers ran to pick up a pair of designer eyeglasses. Those who knew how to get a good deal - picked up eyeglass frames that looked similar to designer frames.
When did it become sexy, not just fashionable, to don specs?
The answer: somewhere in the 1990's... at least from my calculations. Just as designers put supermodels in their eyeglasses, new advertisements started appearing with those very supermodels wearing eyeglasses. The rest, as they say, is history. With the advent of the prettiest people in society wearing eyeglasses - every day average Joe's and Josephine's started to catch on to the trend.
Fast forward to 2009. Eyeglass frames are no longer nerdy - they are stylish, fashionable, and some really are down-right sexy. Frames can now be worn without a prescription for fashion purposes - a relatively new development in eyewear fashion. New styles and fashions have penetrated the eyeglass world. Rimless eyeglasses give a barely-there look popularity. Semi-rimless eyeglasses come in so many styles and fashions that they are no longer just reminiscent of their predecessors from the 1960's. Plastic frames have come a long way from the horn-rimmed ways of the past. They are now more fashionable, elegant, and sleek. Eyeglass wearers no longer have a choice between 5 different styles of frames - their choices are endless.
About 40 years ago, a hot young thing would never be caught dead in a pair of frames that were worn by the nerd next door. Now, glasses are worn in order to be individualistic, to look smart, and even to appear sexy. We've come a long way.