All The Reasons Why '90s Sunglasses Have Returned

They say trends are recycled every 20 years, and right now, we're having a '90s renaissance. Everyone from Ace & Tate to Adam Selman have thrown our sunglasses style straight back to one of fashion's most significant decades. So what are the archetypal '90s shades? A quick look through back-in-the-day photos of Drew Barrymore, Tyra Banks, Cameron Diaz, and Destiny's Child will give you an idea, with smaller frames, a nod to futurism, and — of course — plenty of minimalism.
Ahead, we've got the lowdown on the influences behind this season's most coveted shades, from Kurt Cobain's bug-eyed pair to Matrix-inspired sci-fi sunglasses. (With a little teenage Olsen twins sprinkled in for good measure). Though summer is coming to a close, there's still time to score a few pairs for yourself — and wear them into the fall, too.
1 of 5
You've probably seen the minimalist oval pair on everyone from Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to Selena Gomez, but these micro shades are a staple of nearly every '90s fashion throwback. Then-couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt worked matching pairs, while Jennifer Aniston's were the perfect accompaniment to her staple tank top and cargo trousers. Beverly Hills 90210's Kelly Taylor regularly sported an oval pair, and who can forget Mary-Kate and Ashley's matching tinted version in 1998's Billboard Dad?
2 of 5
Kurt Cobain
Celebrity photographer Jesse Frohman shot Nirvana in '93 — just five months before Kurt Cobain's death — producing what would become a much-referenced image: the leopard-print jacket, the trapper hat, and most importantly, the sunglasses. A hybrid of Jackie O. shades and bug-eyes, the cartoonish white frames became the focal point of one of the most famous shots of the Nirvana frontman. We saw the return of this pair in Saint Laurent's spring/summer '16 collection, which paid homage to Cobain with cardigans and plaid shirts. Harry Styles and Pharrell followed suit, and it wasn't long before Rihanna, and bloggers like Chiara Ferragni, embraced it, too.
3 of 5
You can thank Adam Selman for the return of these sunglasses. A fresh take on the shape of old Hollywood glamour, the new cat-eye shades are almost futuristic. Everyone from Gigi Hadid to Adwoa Aboah has been fighting the sun with a pair from Selman's Le Specs collaboration. But back in '99, Julia Roberts was wearing these glasses with a black beret and leather jacket as Anna Scott in Notting Hill. Now, designers from Fendi to Max Mara have styled models with the angular specs, while fans of the look range from Olivia Palermo to Solange.
4 of 5
The Matrix
Remember the super-thin glasses worn by Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in 1999's The Matrix? This season, the hacker-cum-activist look returned, in large part thanks to Demna Gvasalia's Balenciaga fall/winter '17 show, where models with cropped hair donned inch-thick glasses that gave an almost wraparound look. While the original pair was probably something your dad would've worn, 2017 has spun out a fresh way to wear them — with white frames à la Rihanna, or paired with a choker like Attico cofounder, Gilda Ambrosio.
5 of 5
Sure, you may associate tinted specs with the '70s, but the 2017 refresh has been heavily influenced by the '90s: Think of the shades rappers like Eve and Lil' Kim used to wear, or the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Though Johnny Depp's character Raoul Duke spun around the Nevada desert in a Hawaiian shirt and yellow-tinted, wire-framed sunglasses, this statement-making pair has no official dress code. Pandora Sykes added more pink to her two-piece suit at Copenhagen Fashion Week, while Alessandro Michele styled models in head-to-toe yellow (including lenses) at Gucci's resort 2017 show. And we don't need to remind you of Drake's June outing in a pink soccer shirt and rose-tinted specs, do we?

More from Trends


R29 Original Series