Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Why Sunglasses Can Be Worn At All Times

sunglasses.jpg

Hamish MacBain explains why the seductive power of shades should not just be restricted to superstars

Consider, for a minute, the word you would likely use to describe the following: people who wear sunglasses indoors. People who wear sunglasses when the sun is not out. People who wear sunglasses with oversized lenses. People who wear round, rose-tinted John Lennon-style sunglasses. People who wear wraparound Bono sunglasses. People who wear mirrored sunglasses. People who wear sunglasses with bright-coloured plastic frames. Or worse still, white frames.

We are all thinking of the same word here. And it’s not a particularly nice or printable one. For the modern male who isn’t called Jack Nicholson and is not fronting a world-shaking alternative rock band (and even for a large percentage of those who are), the truth is that the wearing of sunglasses remains a minefield of ridicule.

FASHION OVER FUNCTION

Put simply: it’s very difficult to not look like you are trying too hard. The only surefire method of not being condemned forever as an intolerable, pathetic poser is to wait until the sun is burning your pupils to a cinder and your vision starts to feel like it might be about to take a permanent vacation, then discreetly slip on a pair of classic black Ray-Ban Wayfarers or similarly stylish-yet-safe rims. And of course, they must then be whipped off again as soon as you spot a cloud, or step into anything that could even vaguely be described as indoors.

Once upon a time, jeans were solely for manual workers. Trainers were for athletes. Fairly soon into their lifespans, though, these inventions’ practical attributes became unimportant. Sunglasses in their most primitive form were around a lot longer before that – in prehistoric times, Inuit people would fashion lenses out of walrus ivory with single slits in the middle, to keep out the sun’s harmful rays – but started similarly being worn in the late Thirties by US city dwellers who couldn't give a monkeys about shielding their eyes from the sun. They were wearing them because they wished to concoct an air of mystery and aloofness by hiding what their eyes could give away. A great idea. But an idea that famous people would quickly decide was too good to be wasted on mere mortals.

About three years after Cary Grant had eluded the police with his eyewear in North By Northwest, a singer called Roy Orbison left his glasses on a plane, and had to wear his prescription Wayfarers onstage. Teamed with his all-black clothes, he evolved from what Life magazine had described as an “anonymous celebrity” to having a “dark, moody persona”. The young Beatles went on tour with him, and took note. Soon sunglasses became the exclusive property of the brightest stars: ostensibly to “remain incognito”, but more importantly to assist with the retaining of their highly precious and hugely profitable allure. In a New York Times article dated 10 December 1964 (‘Dark Glasses After Dark: For The Eyes Or Ego?'), Gerald Freedman, director for Shakespeare In The Park, is quoted as saying: “If you’re really ‘in’ you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them indoors or at night because you’d look like somebody who is ‘out’ but is trying to look ‘in’.”

And here, essentially, you can substitute ‘famous’ for ‘in’, and ‘not famous’ for ‘out’. But why should this be? Why can you or I not turn up to the pub this Friday and sit there wearing mirrored aviators? Why can we not just say, “I am wearing sunglasses indoors because it looks cool”?

BACK TO JACK

There is a fantastic quote from our dear old friend Jack: “With my sunglasses on, I’m Jack Nicholson. Without them, I’m fat and 60."

The reality is that without his sunglasses on, Jack Nicholson would still look like a pretty decent, irresistibly dirty take on Jack Nicholson to most of us. Whereas the people who actually are fat and 60 – and even fat and 30, and just about getting by – need all the cachet they can get. We – yes, I’m talking about me, you, most of us – need a licence to wear sunglasses more than Jack or any of life’s born-cool people do. We need to take back sunglasses. Rather than just empowering the already empowered, sunglasses should be reclaimed to serve their original purpose.

And no, I’m not talking protection from UV rays.

Related

hero2.jpg

25 Best Sunglasses Of Summer

main1.jpg

Dennis Hopper's Personal Photos Laid Bare

pharrellhero3.jpg

Pharrell Moncler Sunglasses

glasses.jpg

Jay Z's Cutler and Gross sunglasses

fashionpioneers2.jpg

New Pioneers Of Men's Style

cogito.jpg

The stylish smartwatch

Comments

More

These sweatpants have changed pockets forever

The future is in your lap

by Gary Ogden
27 Mar 2017

Why do we all hate hipsters so much?

The word hipster is rarely said without a sneer - but why?

by Josh Burt
23 Mar 2017

Are the new Yeezys just Reebok Classics with an adidas logo?

Kanye the innovator

by Matt Tate
23 Mar 2017

Supermodel Paul Sculfor tells us how to be the perfect catch

Tips from a man who knows better than anyone

20 Mar 2017

Meet the judges for the 2017 ShortList Grooming Awards

We're back with the best new products for 2017

17 Mar 2017

Dustin from 'Stranger Things' has launched a 'Ghostbusters' t-shirt

He ain't afraid of no ghost

by Dave Fawbert
03 Mar 2017

6 reasons to take Spanish fashion seriously

ShortList’s style director Adrian Clark picks his menswear highlights from 080 Barcelona fashion week

by Adrian Clark
15 Feb 2017

Supreme channels somebody called Barack Obama in new collection

Never heard of him, tbh.

by Sam Diss
15 Feb 2017

These LEGO self-lacing trainers will make tying your shoes a joy

Who needs Nike’s self-lacing sneakers, anyway?

by Gary Ogden
14 Feb 2017

The best Valentine's Day gifts for women under £30

Give a lot, spend a little

by Jamie Carson
13 Feb 2017