2022’s Sunglasses Trends Are All About Nostalgia

Retro shapes and bright colors? Check and check.

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woman wearing wide-rimmed cat eye sunglasses
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Nostalgia’s unyielding grip on fashion undoubtedly urges the bounty of colorful and expressive frames making up some of 2022’s biggest sunglasses trends. But, like the geek-chic effect of a grandpa sweater or the inherently nerdy look of socks and sandals, other spirited and bold styles boasting a so-uncool-it’s-cool, grandmillennial sense of confidence are major, too. It’s likely a product of the past two years shut-in style, where optical glasses became the choice option over contacts and screen time increased to an all-time high. Practicality and a desire for comfort combined with extra eye strain motivated bolder frame choices for many, along with the fact that specs are one of the few ways to showcase personal style on screen. So it’s only natural that such a sensibility would translate to the sun-shielding glasses you reach for daily, on vacation, and for summer’s many sun-filled adventures.

A return to creative self-expression and dressing up is another reason for this year’s bold and vibrant sunglasses trends, says Nordstrom’s fashion director for accessories and footwear Beth Kanfer. “Stand-out sunglasses in statement silhouettes that will get you noticed are important this year,” she tells TZR. “From futuristic to retro [silhouettes], or bright and bold color, it is all about sunglasses in striking shapes.” Similarly, Scott Murchison, Illesteva’s West Coast regional manager, says the sunglasses trends for 2022 are leaning toward a ’70s sensibility. “Thick acetate frames with fun and vibrantly tinted lenses are the year’s must-have item,” he tells TZR.

If you’re wondering what’s cooling in the sunglasses trendsphere, Murchinson points to fashion’s current anything-goes mindset. “I wouldn’t consider any styles truly ‘out,’” he says. “The right touch can even make wrap-around ‘dad’ sunglasses chic.” Kanfer says protection is equally important as style and trend, just like sunscreen. “I’d say it’s time to find a new pair of sunglasses if you don’t have the proper UV protection in your lenses,” she tells TZR.

Keep scrolling to discover the six biggest sunglasses trends as of late — your next perfect pair (or pairs) awaits within the edit to shop.

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Bright & Bold

According to Kanfer, bright, bold colors leads the way for maximum impact — a look in line with the current mood for dopamine dressing, like fun fringe, platform shoes, and illusion prints. “Color is a mood-booster and has been the number one trend across all categories,” the Nordstrom fashion director tells TZR. “It’s only natural to experiment with bold and colorful frames and lenses. It can be applied to any shape, with the best from Celine, Valentino, and Givenchy.”

XXL Aviators

Murchison and Kanfer point to oversized aviators as a right-now way to channel a ‘70s-inspired look. “The thicker and larger your glasses are, the more a part of an outfit they become,” says the Illesteva manager. “Add a chunky, fun-colored pair of aviators to jeans and a T-shirt and, all of a sudden, you’ve got a ‘lewk’ — the practicality of being fully covered is a bonus.”

On the same note, Kanfer adds, “From Moncler, Balenciaga, Celine, and Gucci, sporty, protective, and exaggerated aviators frames offer the strongest fashion statement and ultimate eye protection.”

Tinted Lenses

According to Murchison, tinted lenses are another colorful trend taking over. It’s a look with range — from super-saturated to subtle — to suit any mood or taste. “Wearing a honey yellow lens or a blue-tinted gradient lens is so much more enjoyable an experience than grey or blue,” the Illesteva manager continues. “The old adage ‘see the world through rose-tinted lenses’ didn’t come from nowhere.”

Futuristic & Architectural

Kanfer says sunglasses with an architectural and futuristic look are majorly of-the-moment, be it athletic-inspired styles or virtual-world designs befitting the metaverse. “Exaggerated interpretations of shields and architectural shapes add newness to rectangular and triangular sunglasses,” she tells TZR. “I’m seeing Fendi and Balenciaga lead in this space.”


For the ultimate in Y2K-esque style, Kanfer says small metal frames and rimless designs doused in color are the way to go. “Who doesn’t love Matrix-inspired sunglasses or a metal frame with pink lenses?” she says, highlighting designs from Le Specs, Coco and Breezy, Quay, and Nordstrom’s BP label as brands currently championing the look.

Jewel-Tone Acetate

Acetate frames are a mainstay in the sunglasses realm, but Murchison points to jewel-toned versions for a fresh spin. “An unexpected pop of color always makes an outfit more interesting,” he explains. If these tints feel a tad too intense, though, opt for a cat-eye or wayfarer style to steer the overall effect in a more classic direction.

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