Sunglasses in Fashion

Prepare to soak up the sun in style with a new pair of sleek Radley shades that will add a dose of flair to your holiday ensembles. Ideal for all sorts of activities, whether you’re jetting off for a city break or taking a stroll through London, our collection of flattering frames come with a stylish case, so they are kept safe year after year.

What are Sunglasses ?

Sunglasses (also known as sunshades) are tinted eyewear which you wear to protect your eyes from the sun. They protect your eyes reliably against glare and harmful UV radiation. Much like eyeglasses, sunglasses can also have prescriptions that will help you see as well as protecting your eyes. Over the years, sunglasses have become a fashionable accessory of a very special kind. They now come in a variety of shape, sizes and colours, meaning that they can be really fun to wear and reflect your personal style and personality.

Other than for fashion, sunglasses have also been adapted to be worn for different activities such as sport and driving. Special Sunglasses will help to stop glare off of sand, snow and water, meaning that they are perfect for winter sports and going to the beach. Some are also adapting specifically for driving, so that you won’t see the glare off of your windscreen, which makes driving much safer.

Why Do I Need to WearSunglasses ?

The sun emits damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays which can severely damage your eyes if you don’t protect them. We all know to wear sunscreen to protect out skin from getting burnt and aging, but we sometimes forget what it can do to our eyes. Wearing sunglasses will help protect your eyes from UVA and UVB, which will stop them from getting damaged. Even when the weather is overcast, the suns rays can still penetrate through the clouds, so wearing Sunglasses in a necessity.

Wearing Sunglasses is particularly important if you have cataracts (or have had cataract surgery), have macular degeneration or retinal dystrophies. This is because your eyes are more susceptible to damage from UV rays. Some contact lenses will provide you with UV protection, however, they do not cover the whole of your eye, so you should still wear sunglasses.

The History and Origin of Sunglasses

The first ‘Sunglasses’ were created over 2000 years ago by eskimos who made goggles from animal bone, leather and wood. They made small eye slits so that only the smallest amount of light could enter. However, the first sunglasses which can be said to mostly resemble what we consider to be sunglasses today, were created in China around the 12th century. They were made from flat panes of smoky quartz and offered no UV protection. They were designed to protect eyes from any glare and to hide the facial expressions of judges in ancient Chinese courts.

It wasn’t until around 1752, when James Ayscough began to experiment with tinted lenses in glasses, not to protect from the sun rays, but because he believed that blue or green-tinted glasses could correct vision impairments. Tinted yellow and brown glasses didn’t come about until the late 19th century, and they were prescribed to people who suffered with syphilis, as these people were sensitive to light.

Sunglasses became popular with Hollywood movie stars in the early 20th century, as they would wear them to important events as a fashion accessory. However, at this time sunglasses still offered no protection of UV rays, they were merely a fashion accessory. It was in 1936 when the first polarised sunglasses became available. Edwin H. Land began using his patented Polaroid filter when making sunglasses. This was just in time for World War II, as pilots would wear aviator style, polarised sunglasses when flying planes to help them to see much more clearly. They also increase in popularity with celebrities and the community when they began to be sold to the public.

Today, Sunglasses must be sold with a UV protection and list what that protection is on the label as an industry standard. Sunglasses now come in all shape, sizes, colours and designs with many different tinted lenses. They are still a hugely popular fashion accessory, with styles changing every year, and some becoming more popular than others.

Changing Sunglass Trends Through the Years

  • 1920s: Sunglasses first became popular towards the end of the 1920s and the frame Hollywood stars were after was the classic round shade. The Round Lensed sunglasses came with a chunky frame.

  • 1930s: The Round Sunglasses stayed the shade of the moment in the 30s but this time the frame was more delicate.

  • A passport cover can help you stay organised as some also continue a slot for a credit card or some room for money or your boarding pass. Helping you to keep everything in an order which will mean you can get to it quickly.

  • 1940s: The 40s saw two sunglass trends, the pilot aviator sunglasses were just starting to hit the scene but the true stand out trend was colour, thick chunky, bold frames.

  • 1950s: The 1950s saw a completely new sunglass emerging, the cat eye frame. The cat eye sunglass was an iconic flattering and stylish look that was adorned by many high profile celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn.

  • 1960s: The 60s jumped away from minimalism and embraced the colour and freeness the era was all about, Elton John sunglasses had a big moment, what that means is the 60s sunglass trend was all about over the top, colour and chunky frames.

  • 1970s: In the 1970s the sunglass trend saw something different, it was the first era to play around with coloured lenses. Soft pastel tinted sunglass lenses that emulated the peace and love atmosphere perfectly were everywhere. A big advocator of the coloured sunglass lens was John Lennon, John Lennons sunglasses will remain iconic well into the years.

  • 1980s: The 80s saw power dressing, shoulder pads and bold shapes, this came across into the sunglasses of the era too. The 80s sunglasses revisited the dark lenses and sharper shaped frames. Think Madonna and you’ll know exactly what sunglasses we’re talking about.

  • 1990s: More delicate framed Sunglasses and minimalistic sunglasses had a big moment in the 90s. After a few decades of big and bold, more wire rimed sunglasses took over.

  • 2000s: After the 90s delicate frames, the big sunglasses returned in a big way, oversized sunglasses were all people were wearing. The Oversized sunglasses were seen in multiway designs from chunky white sunglasses to neon sunglasses and also big designer logo sunglasses. Designer sunglasses in an oversized frame were incredibly popular amongst celebrities such as Britney Spears who realised there power at blocking out the paparazzi.

  • 2010s: Tinted polarized Sunglasses were popular but also were 80s sunglass styles. This era saw a really variety of sunglasses. Mini sunglasses, similar to those worn in the Matrix were seen towards the end of the era, matrix sunglasses were huge amongst fashion influencers and fashion forward models like Bella Hadid. Aviator sunglasses also made a comeback in even bigger styles, you also had polarized aviators too.

Radley Sunglasses for Women

Petula- Rim Wired Frame Sunglasses

These aviator Sunglasses will give everyday outfits a sleek edge. Crafted with fine-wire temples and a metallic shine for a trend-led lift, you’ll be able to pop these into your favourite Radley handbag with ease!

Edie- Coloured Frame Sunglasses

Invest in a pair of shades that’ll keep your eyes protected with stylish flair. Crafted in a contemporary angled colour block design in pastel tones, pairing them with your favourite summer look will be effortless! These silhouettes are finished with matte temples that’ll add a little glamour to your look.

Mary- Tortoise Sunglasses

Immaculately styled and extremely lightweight, these Sunglasses will be a solid summer favourite. Crafted with a classic shape and with a black and tortoise shell colour range, they’re the perfect accessory to complete work and weekend looks.

Different Types of Sunglass Lenses

Wraparound Sunglasses

These are Sunglasses which has the frames wrap around the head of the person wearing them from the front to the sides. These sunglasses are great as they offer extra protection from the sun and the wind. They also help to prevent harmful UV rays from entering around the frame. These types of sunglasses are great for sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

Polarised Sunglasses

These lenses help to reduce the amount of glare that you get from surfaces such as water, snow and glass. They distort the true colour of objects making them harder to distinguish. These are useful for sports and driving as they help you see better. The darker the lenses the higher the levels of polarisation.

Anti-Reflective Sunglasses

Similarly, to polarised sunglasses, Sunglasses with an anti-reflective coating on them help to reduce the amount of glare by preventing light from reflecting off the back surface of your sunglasses. There main function is to let more light pass through a lens to reduce the amount of light bouncing off of it.

Mirror-Coated Sunglasses

These have a reflective optical coating on the outside of the lenses which make them look like small mirrors. When someone is wearing the glasses, it is unlikely that you can see their eyes, as you will only see a reflection. They limit the amount of light entering your eyes, which is very beneficial for when you are doing anything in bright conditions. With mirrored Sunglasses, the wearer is likely to have a brown or grey tint to their vision.

Gradient Sunglasses

These glasses were specifically designed for drivers. The lenses are tinted from the top downwards, so that the top of the lens is dark, and the bottom is much lighter. They are good for driving because they shield your eyes from any sunlight above, but then allow you to see your dashboard clearly through the bottom.

Double Gradient Sunglasses

These are very similar to gradient Sunglasses; however, the difference is both the top and bottom parts of the sunglasses are tinted, and then the middle section has a much lighter tint. These glasses are great if you want to wear glasses to protect your eyes from the sun and any glare from below, such as sand or water, but aren’t too dark when you are looking straight ahead.

Photochromic Sunglasses

These sunglasses will adjust their level of darkness based on how much UV light they are exposed to, the more UV light, the darker they become. These glasses are usually good for people who require prescription glasses, as inside they are completely clear, and then when they go outside, they adjust to the light, meaning that they don’t have to ever switch their glasses.

Multifocal Sunglasses

These are also known as progressive Sunglasses. They have a type of glass in them with consists of different prescriptions in the same pair of glasses. They help the wear to see far when doing activities such as driving, and also see near when doing activities such as reading. They are very popular with people over the age of 40 who have developed presbyopia.

Different Types of Sunglass Lenses

When shopping for sunglasses, what most people look at is the design and the price tag. However, there is another tag on sunglasses which is considered to be the most important one to check, yet many people rarely do. This tag reveals what the sun protection factor of the sunglasses. There are five different categories of lenses (0-4), with lens category 0, being the least protective and, lens category 4 being the most protective. It is best to pick a pair of sunglasses with at lease lens category 2 protection, to keep your eyes safe from harmful UV rays.

Lens Category 0

These lenses are purely for fashion purposes only. They are glasses, not sunglasses as they are either clear or have a slight tint but have a very minimal or no protection from harmful UV rays.

Lens Category 1

These lenses should also be purely for fashion purposes only. This is because, they too provided a very limited sun glare reduction and UV protection. They typically have a yellow or very pale tint. Yellow tinted sunglasses were particularly popular in 2018, whilst they look great they are not ideal for sunny conditions.

Lens Category 2

These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. These typically have orange, rose, blue or red lenses, and are fine for partially sunny conditions, but not good for extreme sunlight.

Lens Category 3

These sunglasses provide a good level of UV protection and a high level of sun glare reduction. This is the most common category for sunglasses, as they are good for when they sun is strong. They are likely to have brown or grey lenses. These glasses are good to wear when you are driving.

Lens Category 4

These sunglasses are special purpose sunglasses that provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. These will have a very dark grey or brown lens. They are ideal for sporting activities such as skiing and hiking or being in the desert where the sun is intense and there is a high glare. They should not be worn when driving as the density of tint can make it dangerous to do so.

Although it is common for all of the categories to have particular coloured lenses, the colour of the lens is not what will protect you from the suns UV rays. So even if you a see a pair of sunglasses with really dark lenses, you should still double check what sun protection factor they are. This is because they many decrease the amount of visible light that passes through, but may not provide the best protection from UV rays. Many sunglasses will have grey and brown lenses, because they distort colour perception the least.

Different Types of Sunglass Lenses

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are high energy, invisible light rays, in which the sun emits a lot of. There are three types of UV rays which are UVA (long-wavelength), UVB (medium-wavelength) and UVC (short-wavelength). They are very dangerous and can all harm your body, and in particular, affect your eyes. Even when the sun is behind a cloud, it is important to protect your eyes as even though you can’t see the sun, the UV rays will come through the clouds.

Between 10am and 2pm, the suns rays are at their strongest, which means that this is the most important time of day to be wearing your sunglasses; however, it is important to note that UV rays can harm your eyes at any time of day. Even if you are not looking at the sun directly, glare and reflections can also give off harmful UV rays, which is why it is important to wear sunglasses in snow, water, sand or when you are driving.


Long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the earth's surface and can easily pass through glass. UVA rays are very bad for the skin as they can penetrate deep layers – this is how your skin tans but is also what causes it to age and wrinkle. Experts often disagree whether or not UVA damages the eye, however, it is better to be safe and wear UVA protected glasses.


Medium-wavelength UVB are the most dangerous rays, which is why the need is there for both sunscreen and sunglasses. Again, these are the rays which help your skin to tan and burn, and also age and wrinkle. Having sunglasses with a UVB protection will help preserve your eyesight for longer.


Short-wavelength UVC is the most damaging type of UV radiation. However, it is completely filtered by the earth’s atmosphere, meaning it does not reach the earths surface. This is why you will never see any sunscreen or sunglasses that are UVC protected, and those rays cannot harm you.

All of our Radley sunglasses are both 100% UVA and UVB protected.

Fun Facts about Sunglasses

Sunglasses were created over 2000 years ago by eskimos who made goggles from animal bone, leather and wood. They made small eye slits so that only the smallest amount of light could enter.

National Sunglasses Day happens every year on June 27th. It is a day to celebrate the importance of wearing sunglasses and protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

Sir Elton John is said to own over 1000 pairs of sunglasses and is rarely seen not wearing a pair. It is rumoured that he has the largest personal collection of sunglasses.

Trends in Sunglasses change for year-to-year, with different sizes, colours, shapes, and lenses becoming fashionable at different points.

The most expensive pair of sunglasses on eBay was Elvis Presley’s famous Madison Square Garden’s. They sold for $250,000.