Now that summer is officially here, and the days are warm and sunny, most of us are grabbing our shades as we dash out the door. Indeed, they are not only a fashion accessory, but a health aide against the ever strengthening UV rays.
Believe it or not, our Victorian forefathers had some of the same thoughts. Initially, the preferred way to shield your eyes from the sun was to wear a new spring hat or a bonnet. After all, hats were a required part of a lady’s wardrobe. However, in 1908 the English government approached chemist, William Crookes to seek a solution for eye injuries believed to be caused from the sun and its glare. In 1913, Mr. Crookes compounded a lightly tinted solution that protected against 90 per cent of UV rays. While only ill people wore tinted glasses at first, many began to think that these glasses might be useful for leisure purposes as well. Crookes began testing various formulations of his original tint, and even came up with one for factory glassworkers to protect them from the heat.
As new and less restrictive ways of dressing came into vogue after the Victorian era, people were spending more time outdoors and in the sun. The time was ripe for the expansion of Mr. Crookes’ invention.
In 1919, plastics manufacturer, Sam Foster, began experimenting with sunglasses. He had previously produced plastic hair accessories, but his sales had decreased as women were no longer wearing their hair up. He founded the Foster Grant company and began producing high end fashion sunglasses, for which the company is still known today.
Although Mr. Foster was innovative , the trend for everyday wear did not become a mainstream staple until the mid 1950s. In 1954, Life magazine reported that dark glasses were “…the new fad for wear on the city streets.” They claimed that for years Hollywood stars had been using the tinted glasses to protect their eyes and conceal their identities.and now millions throughout the U.S. had adopted the trend.
It seems that the trend just grew and grew! S0 grab your Foster Grants or perhaps your Oakleys or Varnets, and join the parade!