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A Brief History of…

Sunglasses

Fashion statement, health necessity, Arctic essential – there’s much more to sunnies than first meets the eye

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    100 AD

    The first wearers of ‘sunglasses’ were ancestors of the Inuit – these Arctic-dwellers made goggles from bone and wood to shield their eyes from dazzling snow. Smart.

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    1913

    Lenses that can absorb UV and infrared light are developed. This. Changes. Everything!

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    1929

    Sam Foster starts selling sunglasses for the masses in Atlantic City, USA, under the name Foster Grant. They quickly become a chic fashion accessory, with Hollywood costume designers (such as Edith Head, above) using them in movies.

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    1937

    The Ray-Ban brand is founded when opticians Bausch & Lomb creates the iconic green-hued Aviators for US pilots, to help reduce glare from the sun.

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50s
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    1950s

    Released from the worries of wartime rationing, people start to get fancy with their frames! The cat’s eye is one of the big style statements of the era.

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70s
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    1970s

    Jackie Kennedy Onassis is a huge fan of the oversized look. Practical as well as fabulous, the wide shape offers extra protection during all those glam holidays.

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    2000s

    It’s all about personal style and individuality. Sunnies are loved by celebs – for hiding from the paps and looking cool (à la Lady Gaga)!

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Did you know?

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Elton John has admitted to owning 250,000 pairs of glasses – many of them with coloured lenses, like these fabulous shades.

Words Charlotte Grant-West Photography The Advertising Archives, Everett Collection/Mary Evans, Getty Images, Pixeleyes

*Available at Boots Opticians stores only. Sunglasses are available with prescription or non-prescription lenses. Prices shown include frames and non-prescription lenses.

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