Tips for Collectors – vintage sunglasses

I always knew my hoarding would pay off! I’ve received fashion forecast emails all spring and summer long touting the new trend in sunglasses – late 50s/early 60s vintage. Just look at these Celene frames from Barney’s.

Or these Louis Vuitton frames that the always the first in the know Rachel Zoe showed me last December.

Very Mad Men-esque, no? I loved them all at first sight. I was scheming as to how to get my hands on a pair when a light bulb went off. Why did these all look so very familiar? Because I had nearly identical vintage versions deep within my sunglasses collection.

I started collecting sunglasses about 10 years ago. Right about the time that ginormous sunglasses first became all the rage. I scoured thrift stores for authentic 70s frames, the bigger the frames, the better. And my hunting paid off ten fold. I found some of the most unique big frames you’d ever see. So many, I even sold a few on Ebay – frames I had picked up for under 10 bucks that sold for triple digits.

But I kept one thing in mind while I hunted – fashion moves in cycles. What’s in Vogue now, will probably not be next year. But most likely will be again. With that in mind, I shopped, and here are some tips I learned (as illustrated in these classic frames). These tips can be applied to ANY kind of collection…

You can’t go wrong with designer brands or classic styles. Just take a look at the Ray Bans above. These frames (properly named “Bewitching”) have gone in and out of fashion countless times since they were first released in the 50s. A cat eye will always see the light of day on the runway again. A Ray Ban cat eye, even more so.

If something has quality details; buy it. Not only is the shape of these mod black frames fabulous, but instead of round rivets the company used star shaped ones. It’s the kind of craftsmanship that should always be scooped up when possible.

You can’t go wrong with something that is Italian or French. Home to the world’s biggest fashion houses, you can almost guarantee something stamped with either origin is going to be a good purchase. (These are the same frames as above.)

Finally, if something speaks to you…listen. These sunglasses grabbed me right away with their combo of multicolor jewels and studs. They’re entirely the wrong shape for my face, a bit too small for my head and filled with the strongest, eye-crossing prescription lenses I’ve ever seen. But I bought them anyway. It was only when I got home that I saw the inside of the arm scratched with the original owner’s name, Babs Kobaly. It was like Babs was whispering to me in the store “Hey doll, they may not look good on you, but they looked FAB on me. Get ’em out of this dump!”

So dear vintage hunters and fashionistas – don’t just pick up what’s in style at that very moment. When thrifting, round out your collection by keeping an eye out for quality work and respected brands and origins. Of course, you’ll never go wrong when you follow your own fashion instincts ~ so grab those off-beat but beautiful bargains when you see them! Soon you’ll have a collection of eyeglasses to see you through every style phase and fashion event.

we heartsters – do you share my love of vintage sunglasses?



Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world...
skin tone: NC 25/30
skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea
favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products

11 thoughts on “Tips for Collectors – vintage sunglasses”

  1. turboterp

    Oh Babs, I mean @stef , you’re a girl after my own heart. Your collection makes me sigh with happiness and a little envy. Okay, a lot of envy!

    Do you display them somehow or just hide them away?

  2. irene

    Yup, I love when I find something worth so much more then what you paid for it! BUT- You are the Queen of finding vintage sunglasses- and more @stef! It’s like finding the mother load when you’re in on the prowl!

  3. Babs had some seriously good taste! LOVE the vintage glasses. My daughter wears them with such flair! Mine are more reminiscent of the ’60s. Gotta love good design, though. Finding little treasures like you did is so fun! Thanks for sharing them!

  4. kellie76

    @stef your collection is insane!! You have succeeded in making me love you even more. What fabulous taste you have. I have been so thrilled to see all of the cat eye frames lately. They are just timeless in my book.

  5. tyna

    Ladies you all have good reason to be envious of @stef‘s amazing collection ~ I’ve been jealous of it for years.

    But she’s super generous with them – I always get to borrow a pair or two when I visit for toodling around the desert and it always makes me feel super glam. Somehow I’ve never worn Babs’ pair – I’m going to have her break them out for me the next time I visit!

  6. lipglossandspandex

    I loooove that last pair, the one that belonged to Babs! I have a pair of pretend vintage pink cat-eye sunglasses that I’ve been mostly too chicken to wear. I should dig them out and wear them tomorrow, while we still have some sunshine here in the PNW.

  7. Patricia Valentini

    I have a pair of Versace sunglasses that might be antique. Does anyone know who I could contact to send photos and number to? # MOD A14 COL A34. With insignia on both stems.

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