Ever worn a water buffalo on your nose? Or a turtle? In the 1950s, horn rimmed glasses or tortoiseshell models were all the rage. Later, they were considered geeky or nerdy glasses, but the frames in marbled brown tones are celebrating a brilliant comeback in the wake of the vintage and retro wave. And rightly so, because today’s frames, mostly made of feather-light acetate, are style all-rounders. In this blog post, you can find out which colours and shapes are particularly on-trend and how to style them with your outfits.
Stars Wear Horn Rim Glasses
The Fifties and Sixties were the first great heyday of horn-rimmed glasses. Famous personalities such as US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, musician Buddy Holly or film director Woody Allen made glasses with the distinctive frame popular. Woody Allen even used them as a central element in the film Woody the Unlucky and had children destroy the protagonist’s glasses several times until he finally trampled them himself in a blow of liberation.
No glasses wearer would go that far today, after all, horn-rimmed glasses are cutting-edge and no longer a sign of nerddom, but proof of style and self-confidence, as celebrity horn-rimmed glasses fans like Jay-Z, Anne Hathaway or Brad Pitt prove. Only the materials use to make them have changed since the early days.
The Evolution of Horn Glasses – From Natural Material to Perfect Fake
Originally, real horn-rimmed eyeglasses were made from sheep, goat or buffalo horn. The large horns of Asian water buffaloes, which shed their horns at regular intervals, are particularly productive – a natural material whose extraction does not cause the animals any pain. It was a completely different story with tortoiseshell glasses, which caused a fashion sensation in the Sixties. Tortoise frames were made from the shells of sea turtles, primarily hawksbill turtles caught off the coasts of Cuba. This is why the name Havana is often used for the typical marbled pattern.
Today, the turtles are allowed to splash around undisturbed; they are now protected. Genuine buffalo horn spectacles still exist, and, as a natural material, can provide high wearing comfort. Each horn frame is unique and, with the right care, will provide many years of wear. But real horn is quite expensive, which is why today acetate is mainly used as a substitute. This cellulose-based plastic is very light and flexible and can be coloured as desired. And so the tortoise pattern can also adorn our accessories in all colours.
So, what is the difference between Havana, tortoiseshell and horn rim glasses? When made from their original materials, these frame types would have shown certain differences in pattern and colour but today, the terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same style of marbled frame made from acetate or plastic.
On-Trend Horn Glasses Styles
While colourful Havana shades in rosé, turquoise or blue were the big thing last year, 2021 is all about recentring and naturalness. Horn, tortoiseshell and Havana styles in warm brown tones such as walnut, amber, caramel or honey dominate. Designs in grey or brown-black are also tasteful and timeless and popular with both ladies and gentlemen. As for shapes, there is something for everyone. From classic panto frames to cat-eye, browline or aviator glasses, they all get an elegant twist with the characteristic marbling of the horn or tortoiseshell pattern.
How do you style horn rim glasses?
Anyone can wear horn-rimmed or tortoiseshell glasses (whether as reading glasses or sunglasses), it’s just a matter of choosing the right shade. Marbling flatters the complexion, looks soft and distinguished and can therefore also go well with a larger retro-style spectacle frame. However, if you have a very narrow, delicate face, it’s better to go a little lighter on the frame, too. As far as outfits are concerned, Havana is a real all-rounder, because the warm brown tones in particular adapt organically to suit every style, whether it’s a business look in the office, casual wear in the street or a party outfit in the club. The only exception would be ultra-sleek sporty looks, where fashionable metal glasses are probably the better choice. And if you’ve chosen unique eyeglasses in a colourful tortoise look, it might be better to go for neutral toned clothes, otherwise the look can quickly become quite wild.
Whether buffalo or tortoise look, brown or coloured – horn-rimmed frames are a style must-have and bring the perfect pinch of vintage to our outfits. From Ray-Ban to Tom Ford, from Oakley to Carrera: we have a wide variety of tortoiseshell, havana and horn rim glasses on offer, which you can try on comfortably at your computer with the help of our online try-on service or at home thanks to free shipping. You’re sure to find the right model for your own personal style!