Eyeglasses Make an Image and a Fashion Statement

In recent years, eyeglasses have become the go-to accessory for individuals looking to transform their personal and professional images. Glasses have overcome their former reputation for making wearers appear unattractive and nerdy. The act of sporting shades is now “geek chic”, and some choose stylish specs to complement fashionable outfits. As usual, celebrities have led the way in advancing these trends.

With Fashion Week about to hit New York this week, we’ve drawn up a quick recap of the last decades’ influential eye wear styles. They’ve included the thick dark frames of the staid 1950s, the thinner frames and mod styles of the 60s, the 70s hip wire frames and round models highlighting 80s glam. Newer styles often borrow from and combine these retro looks.

Vision Council of America stats reveal that about sixty-four percent of adults wear eyeglasses and around eighty-five percent wear sunglasses. There is also a sizable number, estimated at about four million, who wear glasses even though they have no vision impairments, according to Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner.

Among those wearing glasses with non-prescription lenses are famous actors, chefs and athletes. The site Glasscrafters.com includes actor Drew Carey in this group, along with Iron Chef Masahuru Morimoto. Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have both acknowledged they only wear glasses to be fashionable, Dubner reported.

Carmelo Anthony is another successful athlete who set out to revamp his image with glasses. He’s a well-known, sometimes-controversial member of the New York Knicks who also played for the gold medal-winning U.S Olympic basketball team this year. His photo (above), is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest print ad campaign. “What’s Your Met?” features famous people promoting their favorite Met museum masterpieces, and the bespectacled Melo looks more like an art scholar specializing in Surrealist paintings than a professional hoopster known for his off-court antics.

Here’s our list of eyeglass styles and the images they convey, along with the celebrity icons who have personified and popularized them. Bloomberg Businessweek also recently analyzed the eyeglass choices of corporate CEOs–one of these looks might come in handy for yours or your clients’ next new business pitch or public appearance.

Thick, dark frames: Intelligent, bookish – Walter Cronkite, Tina Fey

Round, small frames: Retro – John Lennon, Johnny Depp

Round, oversized frames: Glamorous – Jackie Onassis, Anne Hathaway

Wire rims: Creative, intense – Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg

Rimless frames: Stylish, accessible – Sarah Palin

Colored lenses: Cool – Bono, Diane Keaton

Bright frames: Flashy, playful – Elton John, Lady Gaga

Sunglasses (also worn inside): Mysterious – Jack Nicholson, Whoopi Goldberg, Sharon Stone