Then and now: The Cat Eye style through time

What is the Cat Eye style?

It was the icons of the 1950s and 60s that first brought cat eye glasses to our attention. The likes of Audrey Hepburn, Dame Edna Everage and Marilyn Monroe were big fans of the sleek glasses trend. Since then, cat eye glasses have been in and out of fashion year in, year out – but is the trend still on for 2019? Take a look!

What are cat eye glasses?

The Cat Eye is a shape of eyewear that is characterised by combining rounded frames with an upswept design. Just like the eyes of a cat, hence the name! They are considered a retro yet classy style of frame, perhaps due to their origins in the 1950s, and have been worn by many famous women over the years.

The History of cat eye glasses


Rumour has it cat eye glasses were actually inspired by Venetian masks. Altina Schinasi first spotted the style in Venice in the 1930s before taking the trend to a glasses boutique in New York City. In fact, she was turned away by multiple US opticians before finally getting a breakthrough!


In the 1940s, the cat eye (known at the time as the Harlequin), was fashioned in the form of a rectangular frame with a slight upward flick. This distinct style was a hit.


The rectangular, Harlequin cat eye style was out in the 50s, and the rounded, more narrow cat eye frame was in! Marilyn Monroe played a big part in the popularity of the cat eye frame in the 50s and beyond.


The 60s was the turn of cat eye sunglasses rather than eyeglasses. Thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, cat eye sunglasses flew off the shelves all over the world.

1970s – 2000s

The 1970s was a popular time for glasses wearers and the cat eye actually fell out of favour for much larger frames. We would then have to wait until the 2000s for the cat eye to make a comeback.

2010 onwards

After falling out of favour in the 70s, the cat eye was back! But this time in a much smaller, thinner fashion. Celebrities like Bella Hadid and Rihanna were seen sporting slimline cat eye glasses which drove a resurgence of the 1960s trend!

Are cat eye glasses in style in 2019?

As of 2019, cat eye frames are very much still in fashion, and you too can get the retro-look here at Arlo Wolf! From our Audrina sunglasses in Black to our Yasmin frames in Green, we have plenty of cat eye style glasses (and sunglasses) for you to choose from.   

To find your perfect pair, take a look at our range of optical glasses online. You can even try our glasses before you buy them thanks to our try before you buy scheme! Pick out 4 of your favourites across our optical and sun ranges, and we’ll send you some frames to try on for style. This way, you can show them off to your friends and family before committing to buy.

Don’t forget to share your cat eye frames with us on Instagram and Facebook!