13 Photos That Will Convince You to Wear Massive Sunglasses Again


Perhaps it’s my Scorpionic desire to be perceived as mysterious, or maybe it’s just tiny glasses fatigue, but I think we’re due for a renaissance of oversized sunglasses. The epitome of fashion-meets-function, massive shades are both practical and baffling. What could the wearer be concealing? Tears? A deathly hangover? A judgmental gaze? Nobody will ever know! Though glasses that dominate so much facial real estate may seem daunting following years of miniature frames, bug-eyed icons of decades past and present can guide us into the (UV-protected) light.

Oversized sunglasses are a lasting symbol of coolness, championed by femme fatales and It girls alike. Former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reportedly began wearing her signature shades at the suggestion of writer Gore Vidal, who recommended them for the purpose of observing others while remaining hidden. Jackie O was far from the only famous woman to conceal herself behind a large pair of shades. One of the most recognizable photos of Joan Didion shows the writer obscured by large, dark frames, her lips curled into a slight, unknowable smile. Possibly, her accessory of choice aided her in her immersive, observant reporting style, yet she—a woman with a notoriously unfrilly packing list—likely never bargained that they would make her a source of fashion inspiration. Didion was so revered for her fabulous taste in eyewear that she landed a Céline campaign at 80 years old, and sparked a posthumous bidding war over a pair of her tortoiseshell frames. (They sold for a staggering $27,000.)

Sunglasses were first mass-produced by Sam Foster in 1929, though it took until the late ’60s for tastemakers like Onassis to popularize gigantic frames. But by the ’70s, huge lenses were shielding the eyes of everyone from actors like Brigitte Bardot and Sharon Tate to supermodel Twiggy. Onscreen, they were just as popular. See: Peggy Lipton in The Mod Squad, Małgorzata Braunek in Hunting Flies, and Jane Birkin in La Piscine.

Lenses began to downsize in the ’80s, and the ’90s offered up wee shades that rival the current era’s. But the early 2000s ushered in a resurgence of giant sunnies, due in part to the paparazzi’s ruthlessness. Once child stars like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen entered adulthood in 2004, they were no longer afforded protection from incessant badgering. Similarly, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian—women who were famously stripped of their privacy during the aughts—were regularly seen sporting colossal shades. In a 2021 episode of her podcast, Hilton admitted that wearing sunglasses helped her feel confident as a naturally shy person, inspired by the movie Big Daddy. “If you’re afraid, you put them on, they make you invisible,” Adam Sandler tells a young Cole Sprouse. Large, dark glasses became a pragmatic shrouding tactic—and a chic one at that. 

Tiny sunglasses have been the eyewear du jour for the last several years, but it seems that the pendulum may be beginning to swing back. In 2020, Beyoncé donned several pairs of A-Morir frames for Black is King. The Kardashian sisters have traded in their tiny glasses for bug-eyed Balenciagas, and Anne Hathaway sported a series of oversized sunnies on her recent trip to Cannes. At the Venice International Film Festival, Harry Styles’s Gucci shades attempted to deflect the sordid Don’t Worry Darling gossip, and Mia Goth made a compelling case for the return to old Hollywood glamor. And look no further than the new season of The White Lotus, from Jennifer Coolidge’s Monica Vitti–inspired circular lenses to Michael Imperoli’s gas station shades. Hopefully, a new dawn is on the horizon, and our eyes will be shielded enough to see it. 

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