We’re not even going to sugar coat it: 2020 was absolute trash. The good news? 2021 is here, and it’s brought a new wave of eyewear trends that have us hopeful for brighter days.
We get hyped about emerging trends every year, but 2021’s looks are a little extra special. It’s not exactly a secret: fashion reflect the current state of society. Not shockingly, the aftermath of this past year has left an indelible mark on every aspect of our lives—fashion included.
The bottom line? 2021 isn’t just a new year, it’s a new era. And like all new eras, it will be defined and commemorated by the art, music and fashion that helped usher it in. So yes, we’re talking about the eyewear styles that are going big in 2021. But we’re also highlighting looks that will define this moment in history for generations to come.
While last year’s trends were all about vintage-inspired basics, 2021’s looks are a little more daring and novel. In high fashion and streetwear alike, we’re seeing more statement-making frames as well as fresh takes on old classics. Because they pair well with face masks, minimalistic thin-rimmed styles are also having a moment.
Look, we know that this year’s budding eyewear trends can’t right 2020’s wrongs. But maybe they can help us channel a little more chutzpah to tackle the challenges and growth that 2021 throws at us.
After all, what’s better for facing the big, bright future in front of you than some ultra-stylish frames? Here’s what’s hot in 2021.
Vintage Sport Sunglasses
A few years ago the “athleisure” trend stole center stage with luxury leggings and high-end sneakers that declared leisurewear the new face of high fashion. In 2021, that frenzy has finally stormed the eyewear world, catapulting sports-style sunglasses—particularly those with vintage 80s-inspired designs—into high demand.
These specs might be sporty in spirit, but don’t let their performance aesthetic deceive you. You don’t have to be Venus Williams to indulge in the look. In fact, it’s posh stars like Gigi Hadid and Kim Kardashian who brought this trend in vogue.
Sure, their broad coverage and robust designs make sport sunglasses a practical choice for active lifestyles, but they’re also perfect bringing an understated glam element to any casual outfit.
We recommend combining this look with pared-down street fashion. For women, boyfriend-fit jeans, sporty crops and chunky sneakers are all on the table. For men, consider capitalizing on the style’s vintage appeal with chunky sweaters, light wash jeans and an oversized sports watch.
To score big on this trend, aim for shield-style iterations and D-frame specs that double down on the look’s ultra-sporty vibe. Bonus points for glasses with a sleek matte finish and double-bar brow line accent like the Harvey, which over a fresh retro spin on the modern-day aviator.
Wood Grain Frames
We can’t all be Prada-clad CEOs sipping scotch from our Fiji-anchored yachts, but wood grain frames certainly have a way of letting you feel the part, and honestly that’s sometimes just as good. This 2021 eyewear trend is all about elegance and individuality, and frankly we’re here for it.
Our favorite aspect of the wood grain craze? They’re equal parts bold and neutral. Sure, these frames are guaranteed to score a ton of double-takes. But they also go with everything. You’ll catch them turning heads on the beach and at high-end day clubs, proving wood grain a natural choice for just about any style or setting.
Despite their understated detailing, wood grain-inspired looks are true statement eyewear—they demand noticing without screaming for attention. Their craft appeal exudes quiet confidence, creativity and a taste for the finer things. At the end of the day, it’s hard not to love that.
When it comes to pairing, it’s almost impossible to style this trend wrong. Wood grain glasses can be found in just about every shape under the sun. That said, 2021’s hottest pick is the wood grain frame in a timeless wayfarer-inspired style, which nails the look with a sleek design and bold rustic appeal. We don’t say this often, but this one truly does offer the best of both worlds.
Retro Round Glasses
Like the perfect black dress or a classic leather jacket, some things never go out of style. Circular glasses have been around for forever. No—literally. The very first pair of hands-free wearable glasses ever invented (in the 13th century) featured round frames.
To be honest, they never really dipped out of vogue since. But they do get creatively re-incorporated with each new wave of fashion. This year’s take on the iconic round frame is all about sleek wire accents and soft candy-tinted lenses.
2021’s round specs are reminiscent of the minimalistic, counter-culture sunnies of the 1960s, but with intentionally modern updates. Styles like the Nevada which feature sleek gold frames and a range of tint options have become wildly popular among festival-going hipsters and straight-laced professionals alike. Who doesn’t love that wild versatility?
Although the round frames of previous decades featured a perfectly circular silhouette, this year’s trend relaxes the style with understated angles. And thank goodness, because that one subtle touch makes the look a flattering option for face shapes across the board.
Rounded Wayfarer Glasses
When it comes to iconic eyewear styles, nothing beats round frames or the wayfarer style. These two are the golden boys—timeless classics that never go out of vogue. But they’re not just eternally fashionable, they’re also universally flattering. So what happens when they join forces? You get the rounded wayfarer look, a modern style that boasts the timeless qualities of a tried-and-true classic.
This style leans on the ageless appeal of the circular lens while stealing detail elements from the wayfarer that add definition to the look. The cherry on top? These bad boys will look great on anyone. Any face shape, any gender, any wardrobe pairing. They’re proving exactly what the rest of us need to embrace this year: there are no limits.
We guarantee you’re going to see this style everywhere this year. And with its sleek design, subtle accents and fresh retro appeal we really can’t be mad about that. Let’s face it: rounded wayfarers are a new modern classic. You can cop them both as sunglasses or as blue light blocking glasses. Honestly, we totally won’t judge you if you reach for both (in fact, we’d encourage it).
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Last year threw us a few curve balls to say the very least. One of the biggest ones? More people working from their computers than ever before. Combined with lockdown measures, pretty much everyone has bumped up their screen time in the last 12 months. Not shockingly, these factors have thrown blue light blocking glasses into the limelight, declaring the specs one of the hottest accessories on the market today.
But these sleek specs are miles from the gauche, yellow-tinted computer glasses of your father’s era. They’re not overly chunky, either. Today’s blue light blockers feature untinted lenses and ultra-chic frames that exude high-fashion appeal.
While their tasteful design is certainly a plus, it’s their ability to protect your eyes from harmful blue rays, regulate sleep cycles and promote a healthier circadian rhythm that everyone is hyped on. As we learn more about the harmful effects of blue light, these specs will become even more fashionable in the mainstream scene.
Today’s blue light blocking glasses come in wayfarer styles, clubmaster designs, cat-eye slants, round frames and more. If none of those quite nail it for you, don’t worry. These days, blue blockers come in just about every style across the board, so you’re welcomed to have your pick.
Look, it’s true what they say: sometimes less is more. While last year saw an uptick in oversized statement frames, 2021’s trends are moving quickly towards elegance and simplicity. The result? Thin-rimmed frames are huge right now.
We’re guessing this trend has a lot to do with the rise in mask usage. Playfully patterned fabric has helped us add a fashion element to the dull realities of wearing a mask. But throw a pair of chunky statement frames or boldly colored rims into the mix and it all becomes a little too much. The perfect solution? Simplicity. As a result, barely-there rimless styles and wire-wrapped looks are absolutely dominating.
Silver or gunmetal accents will pull off this trend just fine, but gold rims will nail it with that extra touch of elegance. Our favorite take? This contemporary spin on the cat-eye design featuring rose gold rims that delicately frame the lens, adding a sleek definition to the overall look.
Whether we’re talking prescription glasses, blue light blockers or sunglasses, transparent frames are a clear winner in 2021. This style started gaining traction in 2019, but this year we’re seeing them take the eyewear world by storm.
Why? Though the translucent trend is unisex by nature, we’re guessing it has a lot to do with the vibrant makeup styles that have come into vogue recently. More people are seeking eyewear that highlights rather than overstates their look and translucent frames are the clear answer.
They’re intellectual, chic and boundlessly versatile. For a touch of added glamour, reach for subtle pastel tints. Hues of citrine, peach, rose, champagne and burgundy will add that perfect soft edge to your day-to-day look.
When it comes to picking frames, there’s a ton of room to pull off this trend with your own personalized spin. Go circular for an intellectual appeal, or double-down on the look’s natural simplicity by opting for minimalistic square rims.
It’s hard to recognize modern classics in the moment as they unfold. But honestly? That’s exactly what’s happening with the translucent frame craze. Not to sound dramatic, but this trend is defining an era in the eyewear world. When it comes to this style, we can see the future clear as day—eye-catching classics like the square-framed Lennox will be in vogue for literal years to come.
90s-Inspired Lens Tints
Frosted tips, slap bracelets and JNCO jeans probably aren’t coming back into vogue anytime soon, but 90s fashion in general has hit the limelight again this year, and we’re actually ok with that. 90s-inspired lens tints—particularly soft hues of bubblegum pink and cotton-candy blue—are huge right now.
This Paris Hilton-esque throwback trend definitely has its fair share of critics. But we love this look for its guaranteed ability to help you channel your inner romcom diva. Quite frankly, after this past year we’re down with anything that makes us feel like main characters.
When it comes to picking styles that exude It-girl energy, reach for ultra-chic translucent lenses in fun shades like peach, lemon or baby blue. Our favorite take on this trend is the Ode, which offers up a range of wire-wrapped lens colors that add the perfect punch of sophisticated sass.
Bold Black Tints
Bold black tints are currently catching eyes both in the streets and on the runways. The trend started as the go-to look for some of today’s most famous A-list celebrities. Now, the style has trickled into the fashion zeitgeist, and we can’t be mad about it. We love this trend for its universal appeal and mysterious edge.
To nail this one, you’ll want to reach for specs that pair black tints with bold black frames. Both matte finishes and shine finishes work well. For an understated, classy look, opt for mid-sized frame sizes in classic shapes like the wayfarer or clubmaster. Or, go all-in on the Hollywood aesthetic with something bold and oversized.
The best part? This glam “It” style is scandalously easy to pull off. If black leggings and an old high school hoodie are your weekend uniform, bold tints and black frames are standing by to elevate your look with an element of elegance.
Our favorite take on this trend is the black on black iteration of Zane, which balances the look’s mysterious edge with some seriously slick design elements. Between its versatile appeal and fierce edge, we’ll even go as far as to declare this one a contemporary classic.