Smiling man with a short beard wearing Clubmaster sunglasses outdoors

Top 10 of the most iconic 80s sunglasses

29 May 2024

When it came to fashion in the 80s, big and bold was best. It was a decade defined by big hair, huge shoulder pads, leg warmers, tracksuits, baggy sweaters and vibrant neon spandex. Sunglasses at the time were no exception. 80s shades were larger than life. Celebrities and trendsetters alike loved them for their flamboyant style. Besides which, they were also a great way to express themselves – which you can do too! Complement your retro wardrobe with a trendy pair of 80s sunglasses.

Inspire your sporty side

As fitness became a big craze in the 80s, people started to wear activewear not merely for sports but as comfortable casual wear too. Sports apparel shifted from being seen as entirely functional to fashionable and stylish.

At the time, gyms were a very macho environment and they were mainly focused on body building. Action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were renowned for their physique and inspired many men to pump iron. Meanwhile, aerobics classes offered a less intense alternative to staying fit. The popularity of this kind of exercise increased massively after Olivia Newton-John released her Physical music video wearing bright neon spandex. Not long after, Jane Fonda’s workout videos firmly cemented the trend. Before long, everyone was wearing leotards and leg warmers.

An athletic man with a short beard wearing a bike helmet and sporty sunglasses in front of a morning skyline

With a demand for athleisure wear, sporty sunglasses also became popular for their functional style and trendy look. Sports sunglasses were not just for active use either. In fact, as Bono became a global star, as the frontman of Irish rock band U2, he also set trends with his fashion choices. His sporty choice of sunglasses were a real hit and the epitome of cool. They redefined their purpose from the sports field to the stage.

By the mid-1980s, Oakley really took off as a brand and was popular amongst world-class athletes. The sunglasses of the time had large lenses that looked like a visor and were specifically designed for high-speed sports like speed skating, cycling and skiing. This is when they really began to develop their technology with innovations which we recognise today. They shot to fame when Greg LeMond famously sported a pair of Oakley sunglasses whilst winning the Tour de France in 1986.

Sunglasses from the 80s very often followed the neon trend of the decade. They were big in size and even brighter in colour. They had a futuristic look that was fresh and fashion-forward. Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron and Jessica Biel have all been spotted in their own pair of sporty sunglasses.

Give off a cool but rebellious vibe

Ray-Ban® Wayfarer™ sunglasses were the height of fashion in the 80s after Tom Cruise famously donned a pair in the hit movie Risky Business. They also featured in other popular Hollywood films like The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The thick plastic frame and peaked corners were truly iconic and made a cool alternative to more conservative styles. Music icons like George Michael, Rick Astley, Blondie and Madonna were all sporting a pair at the time. They had a huge influence on youth culture and were a cool rebellious style to go for.

Fast forward to today and celebrities still love them. Taylor Swift, Hailey Bieber, Jake Gyllenhaal and Adam Levine have all sported a pair in the last decade. Wayfarer™ sunglasses have made a real comeback. The style has of course evolved as various designers experiment with this classic style. There are now a whole variety of different shapes from contemporary narrow sunglasses to the classic chunky styles that have a real 80s vibe.

Stand out and be unique

Triangular-shaped sunglasses were a huge trend in the 80s. A nostalgic nod to the earlier decades when Marilyn Monroe first made them iconic, they returned on the fashion scene in the 80s because of the punk movement. The triangle sunglasses are a slight variation of the cat-eye with a more daring angular shape that really stands out. It is a flamboyant style worn by famous stars over the decades from quirky pop icon Cyndi Lauper and the legendary Madonna to trendsetters like Billie Eilish and Zoë Kravitz today. Triangle sunglasses are not only eye-catching and distinctive, they also flatter your features by accentuating your cheekbones. When it comes to women’s 80s sunglasses, this particular style really suited the decade because it complemented the big hair and bold makeup that was fashionable at the time.

A young woman in a colourful t-shirt and with chains draped around her neck wearing colourful cat-eye sunglasses

Keeping it classic

The Ray-Ban® Clubmaster™ was another fashionable style of eighties sunglasses. It is slightly more refined than the rest of its counterparts. The iconic frame design is recognised for its bold plastic top and sleek metal wiring that lines the lenses. It stood out then and continues to now because of its sharp design.

This was not the first decade this classic style rose to fame. Previously, Clubmaster™ glasses were popular amongst businessmen and intellectuals from the 1950s. However, the Clubmaster™ did not really take off as sunglasses until the mid-80s when Bruce Willis famously wore a pair in the TV series Moonlighting. Just after that, Ray-Ban® claimed this classic style and gave it a new distinctive look, naming it the Clubmaster™. Before long it had changed its image from a very conservative design to a cool retro style. The Clubmaster™ was a popular type of men’s 80s sunglasses.

Since then, the Clubmaster™ has undergone several transformations. Traditional colours like black and tortoiseshell have since been replaced with colourful aesthetics and the shape and size of the frame has also been experimented with. Celebrities cannot get enough of these trendy sunglasses. Beyoncé, David Beckham, Bruno Mars and Robert Pattinson have all been spotted in a pair of their own.

Elevate your style with pilot sunglasses

Initially designed for pilots in the 1930s, the Ray-Ban® Aviator™ is a truly timeless design. When it comes to 80s-style sunglasses, they are certainly one of the coolest. They soared to success in the 1980s with the release of the iconic action movie Top Gun. Everyone wanted to channel their inner Tom Cruise after he played the role of a hotshot fighter pilot and famously wore a pair of Ray-Ban® Aviator™ sunglasses on screen. These pilot-style sunglasses and other designs inspired by them were everywhere. Rock icons like Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks were also huge fans of these classic 80s fashion sunglasses. They were the very definition of cool and stylish.

Nowadays, it is actually really hard to spot a celebrity or A-lister who hasn’t got a pair of pilot-style sunglasses! From Dwayne Johnson to J.Lo, everyone has a pair. These sunglasses continue to be a huge trend and they are adored for their timeless style.