They say all things old are new again (hence our obsession with '60s-inspired essentials and '40s-era midi skirts), so the recent resurgence of retro-style shades comes as no surprise. Slightly oversized sunglasses with exaggerated frames are a celebrity staple, and not only because their enlarged size helps shield from the constant flash of paparazzo cameras! In a variety of shapes and colors, these chic sunnies add a quirky finishing touch to any outfit. So even if you're not trying to hide from photographers, take a cue from tastemakers like Nicole Richie and Rihanna, and inject your look with just the right amount of fashion-forward flair.
Though this particular shade style evokes a retro vibe, we spotted a slightly futuristic interpretation of the trend at Prabal Gurung's S/S 12 show. The designer's Sunglasses ($406) feature architectural black acetate frames surrounding a pair of gold rims and shiny lenses, making them the outstanding focal point of any ensemble. Though these specs are so bold they're often favored by truly adventurous stylephiles, we rounded up a plethora of more low-key, wearable takes on the look thanks to a number of fashion insiders and celebs.
Take, for instance, the shades we spotted on our inspiring street style snap, who happens to be none other than Wonderland Magazine's fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois. The stunning editor, who also moonlights as a model, clearly has a playful sense of style (if you couldn't tell from her floral dress, graphic jacket, and trademark perfectly coiffed afro) that her unique sunnies only further enhance! Though her specs come in a neutral, goes-with-anything brown shade, the chunky, exaggerated frames certainly distinguish them from a basic pair. We're also enamored with Eugenie Niarchos' cat-eye rendition. At the Missoni F/W 12 show in Milan in late February, the socialite wore the label's chic MI748 Sunglasses ($295, 212.517.9339) in White. The vintage-inspired glasses get a modern update in crisp white, the perfect spec shade for spring! Rihanna also opted for vintage white shades from Giles x Cutler and Gross' S/S 10 collection, but took it one step further with even wider, larger frames. As she was leaving Mahiki nightclub in London last month, the pop princess, who's known for her try-anything-once style aesthetic, pulled off the statement sunnies with her signature cool-girl panache!
If you prefer your shades to come with a little embellishment, look no further than Fearne Cotton and Nicole Richie's eye-catching examples. The former, a British TV and radio presenter, left the Radio 1 studios in London in Miu Miu's Glitter Sunglasses ($390). With their sparkling frames and light brown lenses, this accessory is sure to lend even the simplest look a glamorous vibe. During a shopping outing in Beverly Hills, Richie repped her own line in House of Harlow 1960's Linsey Sunglasses ($205) in Black Snake, which feature a snakeskin-embossed frame in a sleek black hue. Whether you prefer a little flash (in the form of Cotton's glitzy glasses) or aim for understated detail (a la Richie's textured specs), these two options are definitely must-haves!
To further whet your appetite for retro eye candy, we searched for some affordable options that will infuse any getup with the same vintage-inspired effect. If you want to test out the look but aren't willing to shell out the big bucks just yet, give A.J. Morgan's Wendy Sunglasses ($20) in Black a try. The straightforward yet chic pair, in the most basic black color, lends any outfit a polished finish. However, if you want to venture out of your comfort zone and try white sunnies, check out Sabre's Runaway Sunglasses ($100) in Pearl White. The cat-eye glasses come in other fun colorways, but this luminescent ivory shade perfectly echoes both Rihanna and Niarchos' versions. For pops of bright color, consider Rebecca Minkoff's Harrison Sunglasses ($230, available March 19 at Nordstrom) in Blue (stud detailing along the frames offer a rock 'n' roll twist) or Selima Optique's Grace Cat-Eye Frame Acetate Sunglasses ($385) from Net-a-Porter. Though the last pair is certainly a splurge, the striped orange and blue rims, as well as graduated gray lenses, are covetable details that make it totally worth the price!-Tiffany Tse
Photo of Eugenie Niarchos, courtesy of Getty Images; Photos of Rihanna and Nicole Richie, courtesy of Splash News; Photo of Fearne Cotton, courtesy of Bauer Griffin; photo of Julia Sarr-Jamois, courtesy of Stockholm Street Style; Prabal Gurung runway photo, courtesy of Imax Tree.