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The fascinating history of glasses chains

Glasses chains have a rich and varied history, dating back to the Victorian era. Once considered old-fashioned, the accessory has been revamped and is making a comeback with contemporary fashion lovers and designers alike. Eyewear chains have been through several cycles of popularity, with each generation adding its unique twist to this functional accessory. Let’s have a look back at the history of glasses chains…

Victorian Glasses chain

Victorian era: a symbol of wealth and fashion: In the Victorian era, glasses chains had connotations of age and infirmity. Well-dressed ladies would often wear a long chain draped across their chest attached to their glasses or lorgnettes (a pair of glasses or opera glasses held in front of a person's eyes by a long handle at one side) to avoid having them on their face but to ensure they were close at hand. These chains were often ornate and seen more as a statement of wealth and the height of fashion. Iconic figures like Teddy Roosevelt made it more acceptable to keep frames on the face semi-permanently, leading to an increased need for glasses chains as a practical accessory.

1950s Glasses chain

The 1950s: the era of credit and mass fashion: In the post-war 1950s, the invention of credit and the evolution of mass fashion led to a resurgence of glasses chains. Glittered and wing-tipped eyewear became the norm, and the glasses chain made another appearance on the chests of well-groomed working women. This generation kept the trend alive, opting for more modern styles and materials as the decades went on.

The 1980s: the granny staple: In the 1980s, glasses chains became synonymous with the elderly and were often seen as a dated accessory. However, their practicality and usefulness on the beach or slopes meant they never truly fell out of favour. This period saw a shift toward simpler designs and materials, such as shoelace-style chains.

The modern resurgence of glasses chains: Glasses chains have made a major comeback in recent years, with contemporary designers reinventing the accessory to suit today's fashion-forward individuals. From high-end brands to indie designers, glasses chains are now available in a vast array of styles and materials.

Anna chains montage

At Retropeepers, we have a pair of glasses chains to suit every frame, colour palette and style. Check out our range of glasses chains here…


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