The fashion world can always rejoice when good health meets fashion and we can actually get away with buying something chic under the guise of what’s best for our bodies—in this case it’s the eyes. Yeah yeah we all know about protecting our eyes from UVA and UVB rays, even on rainy days. (A fact unknown by many given the strange looks I got during Sunday’s downpour.)
Over the years we’ve seen shades evolve from what the optometrist ordered to high priced talked about accessories.
It’s hard to say when it began. Look back at old movies—the cool guy was always sporting a pair of must-have shades. And the cooler the character, the cooler the shades—the likelier that they would make a comeback on some pop or fashion icon of the 21st century. Kanye West was credited for bringing back the shutter shades of Sho’nuff from Berry Gordy’s 1985 black kung-fu film “The Last Dragon.” On his latest album, Blueprint 3, Jay-Z says he might bring back Versace shades.
Initially I thought ‘Lord please don’t let this happen.’ Then I remembered–Versace sunglasses were cool and I would probably love a pair now that I can buy my own. Plus it brings back a little piece of the Notorious B.I.G. and allows me to pay homage to my Bed Stuy roots.
But I also remembered that the Versace shades era was also the Chloe shades era (remember the ones with the studded heart on the lens) and the sunglasses-at-the-club era. Unless you paid a lot of money for the glasses and really just want to get your money’s worth, wearing sunglasses in the club is unacceptable—unless, of course, you’re wearing a cool hat and playing a bass with a cigarette hanging from your lips.
A favorite style in the Mission (and around the Bay generally—okay around America really) are wayfarers, which no other brand seems to do like Ray Ban. Introduced by the company in 1952, the style reached a peak in popularity in the 50s and 60s, had a small comeback in the 80s (competing with then popular Cazals and robot glasses) and suddenly made a huge comeback in the early 2000s. Ray Bans have pulled a “skinny jeans” as they are no longer a trend but have become a classic fashion mainstay. If you can’t afford the $100+ that a pair of Ray Bans will cost you take your pick from the several street vendors and stores that often have the style for around $6-$10, no frills.
Though wayfarers are joined in popularity by other styles—aviator (also referred to as cop glasses), tortoise shell, butterfly, wrap-around, you need to do what works for your face. Not everyone can look as cool as Patti Hewes in her style of shades. But no one can ever look as cool as Karl Lagerfeld does—I don’t think anyone has seen his eyes in the last 54 years.
The 76-year old artist, who designs for his eponymous line, Fendi and all the wonderfulness that comes out of Chanel, makes no apologies for his shades toting (and yes he keeps them on at night). If I worked as much as he does I would probably be in sunglasses at all times as well—some fabulous ones at that. One can snag an awesome pairof shades (maybe even some vintage Chanel) at various stores in the Mission District, including Schauplatz, Retro Fit, Bianca Starr, or Idol Vintage. I’ve also gotten an emergency pair from a dollar store on Mission Street that held up for about 8 months. Cheap or pricey I always like to be covered.