The Origins of Tortoiseshell Frames
Imagine (or remember, if you’re a vintage human!) a smoke-filled office. Ad-men in three-piece suits, making deals over the top of cigars and the tip-tap typing of honeybee secretaries. Horn-rimmed, retro tortoise shell spectacles dominate this era.
Tortoise shell used to be, sadly, made out of the shell of the hawksbill turtle. No longer! Thanks to modern plastic manufacturing, we can now proudly wear ‘tortie’ without any ethical concerns. Acetate tortoiseshell is also now used in modern fabrics and materials (for things like combs), and the word is used and to describe patterns like those found on… wait for it… cats. Just think about that for a second.
Tortoise shell glasses are often categorised as vintage 50s. But the material (the unethical kind) first started appearing in specs in the 1920s. In the 50s, tortoise shell eyeglasses and sunglasses (under the then aviation-specialist RayBan brand) became very popular.
See a Mad-Men inspired retro-specs gallery!
Shapes and Styles of Tortoiseshell
The hipster-vintage revival has seen the resurgence of 50s-inspired ‘key-hole’ bridge like our Tortugas – almost impossible to find 5 years ago. Round tortoise shell Chuck-like style was also rare to find a couple years ago.
Matt Damon sported horn-rim tortoiseshell glasses in The Good Shepherd and Johnny Depp is well known for his statement reptilian look.
How to wear
Modern tortoise shell glasses offer a variety of base-tones for the pattern: usually brown or black, but can extend to green, orange, red or even clear acetate! This means you can get a dark-but-not-quite-black look like our Deweys; or a layered effect like the Lonesome Georges, which lightens up the look for those with more delicate features. Prada season 2012 even introduced a 70s-esque flecked tortoise shell look, complete with hexagonal frame geometry!
Once you’ve got your paws on a pair of tortoise shell frames, you’ll soon find the hardest part about this look is how to spell it. Wearing is easy as Tortoise shell can fill the gap where your black frames are too heavy, but your coloured frames don’t quite fit. Order some frames to try at home with your fave outfit – we guarantee you’ll be hooked!
|Tortuga – Buy now – Try online||Chuck – Buy now – Try online|
|Dewey – Buy now – Try online||Lonesome George – Buy now – Try online|