Grace Kelly in sunglasses almost identical to my grandmother's. Sigh.
Grace Kelly in sunglasses almost identical to my grandmother’s. Sigh.

One wonderful accessory my late grandmother left to me that I wish I’d taken better care of was a pair of classic 1959 “cat” sunglasses. Those shades were of a heavy bakelite-style plastic and looked great with vintage dresses or just about any outfit. Alas, the plastic (while thick) was brittle, and one day, as I bent over to retrieve something I’d dropped in a parking lot, they fell off and broke. I took them into my eye doctor’s office, hoping he could put them back together, but he sadly shook his head and said, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” There was no way to replace the broken earpiece or make one to match. I regretfully put those sunglasses into storage and have never since found a pair that fits as nicely as those did…but I must admit to constantly looking and trying pairs on! It’s really difficult to find a pair that sits just right without hitting my eyelashes or cheeks or making my temples ache after an hour of wear. Oh, to be able to go back and time and catch those perfect 1950s shades before they hit the asphalt!

Audrey Hepburn in classic "cat" sunglasses
Audrey Hepburn in classic “cat” sunglasses

For a while now, I’ve admired the classic retro glasses produced by Warby Parker and have wished I could take advantage of their five-day try-on guarantee to see if a pair would fit like Mimi’s. Unfortunately, living overseas, that’s not an option for me, but I’m delighted to pass the information on to you, as I’ve had two friends in the past year rave about their WP glasses on Facebook. What I especially like about the company is that, for every pair of glasses they sell, Warby Parker distributes a pair to someone in need through a non-profit partner. Having lived in Africa for four and a half years and seeing both sides of donor “politics,” I absolutely stand behind Warby Parker’s fantastic approach to giving glasses:

We tally up the number of glasses sold and make a monthly donation to our nonprofit partners, which covers the cost of sourcing that number of glasses. The nonprofit trains men and women in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices. These men and women work hard to spread awareness and make eyecare available to their communities. “But wait,” you’re thinking, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Why sell the glasses? Why not just donate them?” Glad you asked.

It’s a sticky fact of life that kind-hearted gestures can have unintended consequences. Donating is often a temporary solution, not a lasting one. It can contribute to a culture of dependency. It is rarely sustainable. Instead of donating, our partners train men and women to sell glasses for ultra-affordable prices, which allows them to earn a living.

This approach is one I back 150%, and I’m always thrilled to find an organization that “gets it” to this extent. So I’m tickled pink to share Warby Parker’s new collection with my own spin — showing you which glasses pair perfectly with my 1940s Swing Dress and 1958 Party Dress patterns!

Sunglasses perfect for the 1940s Swing Dress Pattern | Sense & Sensibility Patterns

The “Bates” and “Buckley” frames with their circular lenses are just right out of the 1940s, as you can see in the vintage images I’ve included in this graphic. They are cute and stylish and really put the finishing touch to any 1940s outfit. Here’s another circular pair from a 1939 Marie-Claire magazine:

Marie-Claire 1939 | Sense & Sensibility Patterns
Très chic!

Next, Warby Parker offers frames that are absolutely spot-on for your favorite 1950s dresses:

1950s Sunglasses perfect for the 1958 Party Dress Pattern | Sense & Sensibility Patterns

I must admit the “June” shape is my fave, as it reminds me the most of Mimi’s classic specs. The silvery “Moonstone” color is perfect for pairing with a summer dress, while the darker “Burnt Lemon Tortoise” is the cat’s meow for outfits that need a striking contrast to pull accessories together like a belt or hat. Love these!

"June" frames in Burnt Lemon Tortoise
“June” frames in Burnt Lemon Tortoise

Finally, if you want to step from the late 1950s into the early 1960s, Warby Parker has you covered with oversized lenses in the “Oxley,” “Ingram” and “Jennings” styles:

Warby Parker sunglasses perfect with your 1958 Party Dress! | Sense & Sensibility Patterns

I love these shapes, and they really do just fit retro fashions to a perfect “T” in every way. As you see in the image below, glasses were a fashion statement meant to perfectly accessorize a woman’s outfit as well as frame her eyes beautifully.

Classic 1950s Glasses
Classic 1950s Glasses

Warby Parker also carries a beautiful range of frames for your prescription glasses. Starting at $95 per pair, including your prescription lenses, these come in far lower than the often jaw-dropping prices commanded for “designer” lenses. And, remember, every purchase means a matching donation to provide glasses and work to those in the developing world. ❤️!

Warby Parker "June" Frames in Moonstone
“June” Frames in Moonstone

If you purchase a pair of WP glasses or sunglasses, be sure to share a photo and use the hashtag #seesummerbetter and tag @WarbyParker so we can see how you pair your retro-style eyewear with your outfits! The new designs I’ve featured here are available May 12. Full disclosure here: I don’t get any money, affiliate fees, or a free pair of glasses for blogging about these wonderful glasses. I just love to share a good thing when I find it. Happy sewing and seeing!

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