Rimless glasses were originally created to make eyewear as inconspicuous as possible, but the low-key style has moved on a long way from its wallflower origins.
Famously adorned by Apple founder, Steve Jobs for almost the entirety of his career, rimless glasses are back on our radar, but this time, they're definitely made to be noticed.
Thanks to the relatively current cohort of techies and super-celebs sporting rimless frames, you’d be forgiven for thinking the style was a recent invention. In actual fact, you couldn’t be much further from the truth. Invented all the way back in the 1880s by Austrian, Johann Friedrich Voigtländer, rimless eyewear’s first incarnation was as a monocle. Eventually making its way onto pince-nez style glasses - they’re the ones without temples that literally pinched your nose - rimless eyewear was seen as a revelation in inconspicuous specs. In those days, believe it or not, wearing glasses was nothing to be proud of. Shock, horror.
Through the 30s to the 70s, the style was chopped and changed, evolving and moving with the times. Technology allowed for a load of new and exciting shapes for lenses like round, square, even weirder stuff like octagonal. It was sometime during this period that a new style of rimless frames cropped up as well. Now more commonly known as semi-rimless, the Shureset, and later the Rimway style frames experimented with partially securing the lens with wire or fine metal above it making the specs more sturdy and arguably more stylish.
In the 21st century, the rimless got hi-tech. As eyewear manufacturing kept improving, rimless frames stayed pretty much at the forefront of the lightweight performance side of eyewear. New, futuristic-sounding materials like titanium-alloy, and complicated techniques like polycarbonate reinforcing, meant that rimless frames could be smaller, stronger, and much lighter than any others you could find - that’s probably how they ended up as the perfect match for fast-living techies, politicians, and mega business folk.
Want to make sure rimless glasses are right for you? Check out the Seen Guide to Buying Eyewear: Identifying Your Face Shape