Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vintage Style Alert

've owned and worn several pairs of vintage sunglasses over the years, and until now I haven't seen anything new that really captured the right look. Until now!  Target's Xhilaration line has some REALLY good vintage-style sunglasses for $12.99. There are two primary vintage styles I've seen:

* 1930s/1940s round lenses.  I've seen them in stores in leafy/limey green, red, royal blue, and black.  The website also shows pink and tortoiseshell options.  I've not personally seen vintage ones in most of these colors, but I believe the green, red, and blue would have been something available in the period. I know black were. I'm not positive about the tortoiseshell or pink, but they wouldn't surprise me. I only wish they had white, too!

The picture is skewed and doesn't really show how they look. For a similar angle, here are some 1930s originals from an excellent Etsy shop, Top Tottie Vintage.

The Target ones aren't identical - the upper outside corner of the frames is the most different - and the tinted lenses are gradient instead of solid.  They are overall larger in scale, which is good because most vintage sunglasses are sized for smaller faces. The lenses are also more perfectly round and a wee bit larger in proportion, though not truly oversized like most sunglasses in recent years.

* 1950s Ray Ban Wayfarers style.  (Did you know the Wayfarers came out in 1952?)  I've seen these in the stores in loads of colors! Turquoise, both translucent and solid pink, both mint green and lime green, purple, white, black, tortoiseshell, and even a translucent cream color that's VERY similar in shade to the yellow plastic of the vintage ones above.

Here is a comparison of vintage 1930s sunglasses and the Target round ones. (Apologies for not doing quick 40s hair - it really does make a difference.)

Now the differences are clear, particularly the scale.  Note how in the picture on the left, the arm on the vintage glasses splay outward to fit over my ears, whereas the arms on the Target glasses go straight back.  This, dear reader, is called Fit. Vintage glasses do not fit my face well. They're useable, but they do not truly fit. It's like wearing a hat that's a half-size too small: it perches a wee bit higher or a wee bit further back than ideal.

Perfect? No. But still really darned good.

If you ever dress in vintage style for a particular purpose/look/event (as opposed to mixing it with modern for regular wear), please consider getting a pair of these. Target appears to be the only store with anything like these shapes, not to mention the range of colors. I don't expect them to appear overnight, but three months from now may be a different story.

1. Eyewear can be one of the most glaringly modern parts of a vintage getup. There are many valid reasons this can't be avoided. But sunglasses don't have to be!  Instead of putting on your big modern bug-eyes (I have 'em!) and throwing off your whole look, or going without and squinting painfully for hours (also done), just get a pair of these and keep them with your vintage accessories.

2. The right sunglasses will ADD to your look. Look at this lady!

3. Maybe your event won't be outside. But will you be walking on the street or driving to the event? I have been known to wear my bug-eyes into a Regency event because I was driving and forgot to leave them in the car.  Instead of trying to remember to take off the modern stuff, just use vintage-look ones. Nothing to worry about!

4. I'm in North Texas and I use sunglasses year-'round. Stormy days happen, but not too often. After a few not-happy winter outdoors events, I made the commitment to never be without sunglasses. For me, they're a necessity. And since I spend a lot of time and money to make sure other necessities, like shoes, fit the look, surely I could spare just a little money for sunglasses?

5. Vintage sunglasses are available. They are, however, not easy to find, nor cheap. I think I've paid $30-45 for the ones I've bought (the cheaper ones were damaged), and that after weeks of regular searches. A quick trip to Target and less than $15, and you've saved two or three times as much money AND a whole lot of time. My time is at a premium; how's yours?

6. As mentioned above, vintage sunglasses tend to be smaller across across the face than modern ones. My face is both longer and wider than average vintage. I can wear vintage ones, but they look a wee bit small. The Target ones fit me.

7. Vintage sunglasses have glass lenses, which could be dangerous if they break. In addition, glass lenses likely do not have as much UV protection as even cheap modern sunglasses.  (This is probably not a huge concern unless you're wearing vintage ones constantly, but it's a good thing to be aware of.)

8. Vintage sunglasses are brittle! I broke a small piece of plastic off the hinge of one arm of my first pair, and I can't repair them. My current pair came to me damaged (hence the affordable price), with the tip of the one of the arms broken off, and both arms really loose. In addition, many pairs (including these) have warped over the decades and can be awkward or uncomfortable to wear. The Target ones are less fragile, less expensive, fit like we're used to, and aren't irreplaceable.

They're not perfect. But in the interests of saving a good $30, hours of search time, and weeks without sunglasses, besides having a fun color, I don't mind a small compromise in the size of the lenses. It's a bargain!

Have I sold you yet? Go get some!

Image koshka-the-cat  (The vintage glasses in the center are virtually identical to the Target ones shown above.)

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