Thelma and Louise cat eye sunglasses silk scarf

Great women in great eyewear: The 90s

Peering down from the 2020s, the 90s look close to utopian. It was a simpler, happier time back then. We woke up to sugar-laden cereal, not taste-less healthy mulch. Without the endless scroll of the Twittersphere, we ate it grinning while we watched the innocent capers of The Big Breakfast team. We went to work emboldened by The Spice Girls’ brand of girl power and when the working week was done, we spent our time on the dance floor, not taking selfies in the loo.

It wasn’t all a-ok, though, was it? Can you remember what you were wearing back then? For some reason, t-shirts were worn over other, longer-sleeved t-shirts and no one ever took the time to stop and ask, why? If we weren’t near enough naked in barely-there minidresses, we were getting lost in tent-like baggy cargo pants. They didn’t do inbetweens very well in the 90s. And to make matters worse, pretty much every item of clothing you could buy was camouflage or - if you were lucky - leopard print.

But like eyewear in the 80s, even amongst many now-unadvisable fashion choices of the 90s, there were glimmers of style that have stuck around. While most of us were unashamedly busting moves in tracksuits, a bunch of great women were taking the modern female attitudes of 90s fashion and pushing them forward, shaping them into something a little more timeless. That meant wearing less camouflage and better eyewear.

Because 90s fashion sometimes gets a worse rep than it deserves, we thought it was about time these ladies got a little recognition. Selflessly, we’ve taken a couple of days off to rewatch the classic films and hunted out the sunglasses and glasses that defined 90s movies so you can bring back a bit of that wide-eyed optimism into the 2020s. Here’s our picks of women’s eyewear of the 90s. Word? Word!

Julia Roberts in 90s film Notting Hill wearing cat eye sunglasses

Julia Roberts - Anna Scott in Notting Hill (1999)

Towards the end of the decade, it was starting to look like either Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts was going to be starring in every romantic comedy until time itself ceased to exist. So it seems fitting that Notting Hill - the last big rom-com of the decade - starred both of them, Julia Roberts as American actress, Anna Scott, and Hugh Grant somehow managing to act awkward and bumbling as British bookshop owner, William Thackett.

Along with the masterfully-penned script that you most definitely still know off by heart, a highlight is the wardrobe of sharp late-90s looks sported by Anna. Most notable of all is this beret, leather jacket and cat eye sunglasses outfit we see her in when she first meets William in his bookshop. Fancy looking like you’re escaping the paps next time you nip out to buy your holiday read? We’d recommend you peruse these Jacques Marie Mage’s Heart sunglasses.

From movie, The Bodyguard (1992) Whitney Houston wears cat eye sunglasses

Whitney Houston - The Bodyguard (1992)

You might know her best as the late goddess of power ballads, but did you know Whitney Housten also acted in little-known film, The Bodyguard? Of course you did. A film whose popularity is matched only by the success of its not-suitable-for-karaoke soundtrack, The Bodyguard is one of the seminal films of the decade and, as far romantic thrillers go, it manages to pack more than enough early-90s steez into the mix too.

But before you launch into a wailing rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’, let’s take a moment to admire Whitney’s shades. Worn on and off throughout the film, they’re jet black, blacked out and gently cat eyed - the perfect match for a superstar playing a superstar. If you reckon you’ve got the vocal cords for it, try out a pair of these Vert frames from that Garrett Leight and Clare Viver collaboration.

Thelma and Louise wearing sunglasses and silk scarfs in nineties movie

Susan Sarandon - Louise in Thelma and Louise

As far as films celebrating female friendships go, it doesn’t get much better than Thelma and Louise, does it? As well as being famous for its revolutionary feminist themes, the film has its fair share of iconic stylistic moments which have since gone on to be ingrained into popular culture. The silk headscarf and tortoiseshell cat eye sunglasses combo, for example, has become a kind of unofficial emblem for female freedom and no self-respecting gal would be seen on the run from the FBI without them.

If you’re planning on making like Louise and taking the ol’ Ford Thunderbird convertible out for a ride with your BFF this weekend, don’t forget to pack these Feather Tortoise Del Rey sunglasses from Garrett Leight. You never know where the roads might take you.

Sarah Conor's sunglasses from 90s film, Terminator 2

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2

It’s the film where those two near-invincible robots from the future are battling it out to the death, but everyone knows the most badass character in Terminator 2 is a mere, human lady called Sarah Conor. She made a u-turn from being a damsel in distress to an outright robot slaying machine and, perhaps equally importantly, she did it in style.

For the finale at the end of the film, wearing a tank top, boots, and a pair of round sunglasses with sun shields, Sarah looked hot enough to smelt a T-1000’s circuits. When you’ve next got a planet to save, we'd recommend picking up a pair of Garrett Leight’s Wilson M sunglasses in matte black and grabbing some Wilson M Clip-on Sun Shields for some extra Sarah Conor badassness.

Dianne Wiest in pink glasses from Edward Scissorhands movie

Dianne Wiest as Peg in Edward Scissorhands

Last but certainly not least we’ve got the great Dianne Wiest as Peg in the Tim Burton cult classic, Edward Scissorhands. It was the film that made Johnny Depp and thanks to strange-but-beautiful artistic choices from Tim, it looked like anything that had come out before it.

Peg may undergo some seriously questionable haircuts at the (scissor) hands of Johnny Depp’s mad-haired, blade-fingered character, but her eyewear game is consistently strong thanks to those on-trend, oversized pink-crystal frames. For your own slice of suburban style we’d give the Garrett Leight Hampton in Pink Crystal a try.

So that’s that, 90s’ eyewear at its finest. It’s about enough to make you get out the Tamagotchi, isn’t it? Yeah, maybe not. If you want, shop the styles featured below or nip into The Seen HQ and tell us about the favourite 90s look you’re after.