What Are “Horn Rimmed Glasses?” Exploring The Basics & History Of These Iconic Frames


horn rimmed glasses

If you wear glasses, you’ve probably tried on a pair of “horn rimmed glasses” at some point – frames that are usually made of a dark brown material, often crafted with swirls and patterns of other colors for visual interest.

But what are horn rimmed glasses? What is the history of this style of glasses? And are they really made of horn? Find out now in this blog from Designer Optics.


Horn Rimmed Glasses First Gained Popularity In The 1920s

Horn rimmed glasses first became very popular when a comedian, Harold Lloyd, wore them in a 1917 movie called “Over The Fence.” Before the late 1910s and 1920s, rimless glasses were very popular – as they helped reduce the prominence of the glasses, which were often associated with physically weak “intellectuals” or the elderly.

But in the 1920s, horn rimmed glasses became more popular, and people began wearing these prominent, stylish glasses as a fashion statement, often with large, chunky frames.

They became less popular after the Great Depression as sturdier metal frames grew in prominence – but in the 1940s and 1950s, horn-rimmed “browline glasses”  that combined a horn rimmed “brow” with a metal frame were introduced, and horn rimmed glasses became popular again.

After this, horn rimmed glasses declined in popularity throughout the 1970s, and then went through another phase of popularity in the late 1980s followed by a decline in the 1990s. Today, though, horn-rimmed glasses are popular in many different styles – and are likely to stay fashionable for years to come.


Are Horn Rimmed Glasses Really Made Of Horn? Not Anymore!

Horn rimmed glasses derive their name from their appearance, which looks similar to a natural animal horn material, or even tortoiseshell – which is why they’re also sometimes called “tortoiseshell glasses.”

And these terms do have their root in the materials originally used to make this style of glasses – natural animal horns, and even shells from tortoises and turtles. But these materials are much less durable and strong compared to plastic, and are a lot more expensive.

So, throughout most of the history of horn rimmed glasses, these glasses have actually been made of durable plastics like acetate, and have used dyes and special manufacturing techniques to imitate the appearance of natural horn or tortoiseshell.

Today, almost all horn rimmed glasses are still made out of plastic, though there are some specialized manufacturers who make them out of materials like buffalo horn. These retro, vintage inspired frames are available in a variety of shapes and sizes – so they’re always a popular choice at Designer Optics.


Shop Our Selection Of Horn Rimmed & Tortoiseshell Glasses Today!

At Designer Optics, we have more than 12,000 different styles of glasses available, including a wide variety of horn rimmed glasses and tortoiseshell styles.

If you’re looking for a new pair of glasses to change up your style, we’ve got what you need to look fashionable and confident for years to come. Shop now, and see why we’re the #1 choice for prescription glasses online.

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