20 Best Performances By Sunglasses in Films

With the official first day of summer just a few days away, I find myself thinking about all of the ways Hollywood celebrates warm weather. My favorite gifts from the movie studios are the mega blockbusters that are specifically created for summertime. Usually within these big-bucket popcorn film feasts are iconic costumes and accessories that soon become staples of our own wardrobes.

Years ago I worked on a summer blockbuster and saw first-hand just how much attention went into finding the perfect pair of sunglasses for a character. Yes. Sunglasses.

For our generation there was certainly a sharp increase in sunglasses appearing in films and TV. This is in large part due to a deal that happened in the mid 1980’s. Bausch & Lomb, the company who owned a struggling-to-stay-afloat Ray-Ban, decided to make a deal with a product placement company. It was a revolutionary deal and it immediately put the Ray-Ban brand front and center in pop culture. Sunglasses were suddenly BIG money.

Over the years sunglasses in films have been bringing in some pretty amazing performances. In fact, I bet just hearing “sunglasses in films” made you instantly think of several different characters. Did you think Tom Cruise in Top Gun? The Blues Brothers? I’ve put together a list of performances by sunglasses that I believe are truly outstanding. Let me know if your favorite shades made the list!

  • Best Performances by Sunglasses 1 of 21
    Best Performances by Sunglasses in Film

    There's no actual award show for sunglasses, but that isn't stopping us from celebrating these great show-stopping performances by sunglasses in movies. If you find a pair you love there is a very good chance you will be able to find a manufacturer who has it for you.


    Image Credit: Alessandro Ansuini

  • Top Gun 2 of 21

    Tom Cruise wears the classic Ray-Ban Aviators in Top Gun. I remember after this movie came out suddenly EVERYONE had to have aviator glasses. I have tried many times to wear these kinds of glasses but as I am a "push the glasses on top of my head when not in use" kind of gal these are not an option as they are not long hair friendly.


    Image Credit:  The Times UK

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s 3 of 21

    I will forever be in love with the black Manhattan wayfarer-style Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The shape, the size, the color, everything is a YES for me.  If I had an extra $440 for sunglasses I would be all over the Oliver Goldsmith reissue of these beauties.


    Image Credit: weddingstylefileblog

  • Men in Black 4 of 21

    Men in Black is another film that went to Ray-Ban for the sunglasses that would complete the look of Agents Kay and Jay. They are both wearing  Ray-Ban "Predator 2" glasses.  After the film released, Ray-Ban reported that sales of these glasses tripled, from $1.6 million to $5 million.


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Annie Hall 5 of 21

    When we think of Annie Hall we think of crisp and tailored shirts, vests with wide ties, and that great hat. I also think of the round tortoise shell glasses she wore. The frames are larger than the typical round glasses and the metallic points connecting the frames to the sides is genius. There are many, many companies proclaiming to make "Annie Hall" sunglasses, but the closest I have found are a Liz Claiborne circa 1980 being sold on Etsy


    Image Credit: White Coffee Magazine

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 6 of 21

    Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski appear to be wearing the same sunglasses. Sure, if all "yellow aviator sunglasses" were the same. In case you ever need to know this information for pub quizzes, listen up: Johnny Depp is rocking some Ray-Ban RB 3138 Shooter aviator sunglasses, and John Goodman had on Ray Ban 3026 aviator sunglasses. Got it?


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • The Blues Brothers 7 of 21

    After watching The Blues Brothers you come away with a deep need to listen to every single Aretha song ever recorded, and a love of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. According to The Blues Brothers Central Costume page: Jake (Belushi) wore Wayfarer I glasses and Elwood (Aykroyd) wore Wayfarer II.


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Desperately Seeking Susan 8 of 21

    In Desperately Seeking Susan we all fell in love with the style of Susan Thomas (Madonna). The vibrant red lips, the fingerless gloves, the crazy hair, THOSE SUNGLASSES! These are also Ray-Bans and they belonged to Madonna. A few years ago the film celebrated it's 25th anniversary and The NY Times ran a great interview with the director, Susan Seidelman, who speaks very openly about what it was like to cast an unknown actor in a starring role. (Madonna was her neighbor!)


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • The Matrix 9 of 21

    Oh The Matrix. This film introduced the world to the Blinde Brand of sunglasses. From their website: All Blinde frames are made from the highest quality zyl, which is tumble polished for 72 hours to achieve maximum luster. Blinde's signature handmade plastic frames are distinguished by the use of subtle but important details including: a beta-titanium core wire providing increased flexibility and comfort in the temples, and the signature seven-barrel, six-pin stainless steel hinge, which is one of the strongest and most durable in the industry.


    Image Credit: IMDB


  • To Catch a Thief 10 of 21

    I couldn't figure out who designed the sunglasses Grace Kelly so beautifully wore in To Catch a Thief. White sunglasses with dark lenses are one of my favorite things to wear in the summer as they make me feel brighter and less gloomy. Jessica Simpson has a line of sunglasses (yup) and she carries a white cat eye that is super cute for just over $40. 


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Crazy Stupid Love 11 of 21

    There was a lot of fantastic styling going on in Crazy Stupid Love. How lovely for the costume designer to start with the beautiful frame that is Ryan Gosling. The sunglasses he's wearing are Selima Optique Chad, and Ryan has made them so popular that the designer has a wait list for them.  From the (super cute) Selima website, "Like sands through the hourglass... so are the Chads in Auburn Tortoise. We've once again sold out of the Chad in Auburn Tortoise."


    Image Credit: http://themonsieur.com

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 12 of 21

    Matthew Broderick debuted the reintroduction of the Ray Ban Clubmasters in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ask Men have given Clubmaster sunglasses one of their highest scores for uniqueness. From AskMen, "Clubmasters not only define a style, they define a decade. When you spot a pair, you're instantly taken back to your favorite memories of the days when the music was good, fashion was loud, and John Hughes ruled cinema."


    Image Credit: honeyandbrash.com

  • The Hangover 13 of 21

    Baby Carlos, er Tyler, in The Hangover, is sporting some mighty big aviators. These are BluBlocker Sunglasses in Demi Tortoise color and they have been around for ages. The super affordable ($69.95) glasses are the ones that boast, "you can hit us with a hammer and we won't break!" Clearly these are perfect for baby's first sunglasses.


    Image Credit: Huffington Post


  • Notting Hill 14 of 21

    International super star Julia Roberts played international super star Anna Scott in one of my all-time favorite romantic comedies, Notting Hill. In the scene where the "meet cute" happens, Julia is wearing a beret (cough) and these great cat-eye glasses. I couldn't find confirmation of the brand of glasses Julia is wearing, but her beret is clearly Chanel. I have now spent way too long gazing at sunglasses I can never afford at Chanel, especially these green cat eye beauties.


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • The Breakfast Club 15 of 21

    The Geek put on a pair of Roxy sunglasses in The Breakfast Club. This brand of sunglasses continues to have some of the most colorful frames around. They also have a very loyal fan base. 


    Image Credit: DraftHouse

  • Reservoir Dogs 16 of 21

    If more than three men in black suits with skinny ties and sunglasses get together I know at least one of them is humming Little Green Bag, the opening song from Reservoir Dogs. The actors in the film are all wearing Ray-Bans, and they are a combination of Clubmasters and Wayfarers. The Sunglasses shop shares, "All frames in the movie are vintage and so without branding."


    Image Credit: IMDB



  • Risky Business 17 of 21

    In 1982 Ray-Ban signed a $50,000-a-year deal with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, to place Ray-Bans in movies and television shows. A year later a little film called Risky Business with some guy called Tom Cruise came out and Ray-Ban Wayfarers were THE sunglasses.


    Image Credit: ForgottenFlix

  • The Big Lebowski 18 of 21

    The glasses worn by The Dude in The Big Lebowski are made by Vuarnet. It was the most stylish part of The Dude's wardrobe. (No offense to those of you that are really into bathrobe chic...)


    Image Credit: Casting Frontier

  • Terminator 2 19 of 21

    Arnold is wearing Persol sunglasses in Terminator 2. Specifically he is wearing Persol Meflecto Ratti model 58230. From the company's website, "Persol's long 'filmography' began in the 1960s and continues to grow, marking a truly special and magical love story with the movie industry."


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Thelma and Louise 20 of 21

    Susan Sarandon's Louise in Thelma and Louise wears some truly great RayBan Dekko cat eye tortoise shell sunglasses. I found a similar pair marked as vintage (and unworn) from the 70's/80's on a listing on Etsy


    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Natural Born Killers 21 of 21

    Woody Harrelson is wearing red teashades in Natural Born Killers. The sunglasses have always freaked me out. I couldn't even put the image from the movie poster here because ZOMG NIGHTMARES FROM MY '90s! Teashade-shaped glasses were made famous by people like John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne. In case you have ever wondered about why someone might wear red tinted glasses, Web MD has a great study about the decrease of migraines reported by people who wear tinted glasses.


    Image Credit: impassionedcinema

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{side note: After writing this post I immediately purchased new sunglasses. No joke.}

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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