Genuine Antique Cat Eye Glasses and Frames for Vintage Style
Vintage Eyeglasses Warehouse sells a range of vintage cat eye glasses, all carefully restored to near original condition. While many optical manufacturers are still producing cat eye glasses today, our authentic eyeglass frames from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s offer a retro look not possible with reproduction cat eye glasses.
Our cat eye glasses frames are suitable for prescription lenses, sunglass lenses, and non-magnifying glass to give you a one of a kind accessory. Browse our inventory and check back frequently for new items.
Cat Eye Glasses
About Our Original Cat Eye Glasses
The first cat eye glasses were designed by Altina Schinasi in the 1930s. She wanted a more stylish alternative to the horn rimmed glasses she thought had been in style since the time of Benjamin Franklin. Her result was eyeglasses frames that swept up to dramatic points in the top corners. Initially called Harlequin glasses, the angular frames had acquired the name cat eye glasses by the 1940s.
What Makes Cat Eye Glasses Unique
The bold style of cat eye glasses was really only possible because of technological advancements during the 1930s and 1940s. New plastics enabled manufacturers to create the uniquely shaped, lightweight frames in bright colors. Better lens grinding technology allowed for the large lenses with their sharp corners.
All this led to new style options at a time when women’s fashions were rapidly changing and stand out looks were in vogue. As more companies began to produce cat eye glasses, women now had choices in:
- Manufacturers – Tura and Schiaparelli were two of the leading cat eye glasses manufacturers with distinctive looks that included florals, solid gold frames, and more. But almost every optical company was making cat eye glasses during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
- Shape – The earliest Harlequin glasses narrow with a notable uplift at the corners. Cat eye glasses became wider in the 1940s before narrowing again into rectangular frames in the 1950s. The 1960s cat eye glasses used larger, more circular frames while retaining the pronounced corners.
- Color – Cat eye glasses in earlier decades often had frames in blue, red, green, and yellow, as well as traditional black and brown. Later cat eye glasses often tended towards more subdued blacks, browns, and dark colors.
- Decoration – The embellishments at the corners is where cat eye glasses really stood out between the 1930s and 1950s. Rhinestones, flowers, pearls, stars, gold filigree, and a range of other designs created a flashy accessory.
Some cat eye glasses even had the unique option for interchangeable frame tops. These 1950s cat eye glasses imitated the men’s browline style with a large plastic piece at the eyebrow and thinner frames surrounding the rest of the lens. The top piece of the glasses popped off so the wearer could change up the style and embellishments to match different outfits.
Cat Eye Glasses for an Iconic Style
The many design options available for cat eye glasses made this style a favorite for women. Fashion icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly wore cat eye glasses throughout the 1950s and 1960s, making these one of the first glasses to be a fashion accessory in addition to a functional item.
Cat eye glasses reached their height of style in the 1950s as both eyeglasses and cat eye sunglasses. By the 1970s, the lenses and frame shape had changed to become rounder with less pronounced points, leaving behind the iconic look of these mid-century glasses.
Our selection of cat eye glasses at Vintage Eyeglasses Warehouse contains popular styles from throughout the decades. We have:
- Mid Century Glasses
- Marilyn Monroe Glasses
- Schiaparelli Cat Eye Glasses
- Tura Cat Eye Glasses
- Cat Eye Glasses with Rhinestones
- Large Cat Eye Glasses
- Original Cat Eye Sunglasses, and More
Whether you need a costume accessory or want to emulate your favorite Mad Men character in your everyday life, cat eye glasses are the perfect retro accessory.