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The History of Cat-Eye Glasses

Cat-eye glasses were created in the 1930s when Altina Schinasi walked by an optician’s office and noticed that there were very few stylish options for women. Inspired by the masks that she saw in Venice, Italy, she designed glasses that featured an exaggerated frame around the eyes. She struggled to find a place to sell them until a glasses boutique in New York City agreed to add her spectacles to their retail line-up. By the 1940s, cat-eye glasses had become extremely popular. They often featured a thick rectangular frame with a slight uplift and small details at the corners. In the 1950s, cat-eye glasses became even more popular after Marilyn Monroe wore them in her films. These 1950s-style cat-eye glasses were often narrower and more pointed than the 1940s version. In the 1960s, those smaller cat-eye frames gave way to larger, oversized frames – a modification that continued to be popular well into the 1970s and 1980s. Cat-eye frames in the 1990s also tended to be oversized and featured a new addition – colored lenses. In the 2000s, cat-eye glasses tended to feature large, chunky frames with many embellishments. Then in the 2010s, the retro cat-eye trend took hold, and smaller, more geometric cat-eye frames gained popularity. Today, cat-eye glasses remain popular and while they continue to evolve with changing fashion trends, they have remained true to the basic shape that was first introduced way back in the 1930s.

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