Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 2, 2010

A Lesson in Trends: Over-sized Sunglasses

I was a little surprised to find such shock and awe over the idea that over-sized sunglasses are in bad taste the other day and I thought it might be a good opportunity to talk about the lifespan of a trend.

If you go for a trend you mark yourself as trendy. That’s fine, but trendy has a shelf life and you’d be wise to know when to jump off that band wagon before it drives itself into gas station and dollar store wasteland.

Let’s talk about over-sized sunglasses. The trend? She is over.

I have three problems with oversized sunglasses.  Four if you include they look dumb.

First and foremost they are played. out.

Way played out.

Way WAY played out, and have been for a good couple of years now.  They were fresh-looking in 2004 and stayed more or less on the right side of gauche (see what I did there?) until late 2007. It had a standard three year trend run. Fine and respectable. And I’m sure they’ll come back again in say, 2025 so if you bought an expensive pair, keep ’em somewhere.


It is now 2010.

The industry-standard two year trickle down grace period is well over. It’s time to put ’em away.

Generally speaking, if you can buy a trend at the dollar store or a gas station, then chances are that particular trend has officially become saturated and is now followed only by People Who Don’t Know.

You are not People Who Don’t Know.

The other thing about big sunglasses is this:

They’re not glamorous.

They’re not going to make you glamorous or mysterious or interesting if you’re not glamorous or mysterious or interesting already, and if you ARE glamorous or mysterious or interesting already, you probably already know better than to make that sort of rookie mistake.  (For further reference please see fig. 142a in your texts, tit., Mathematical Odds of Women in Shirts Spelling “Classy” in Rhinestones Actually Being Classy.)

Also: You’re Not Famous (probably)

Most of us aren’t famous.  I’m the level of famous where I get recognized for who I actually am maaaaybe  once a month, and then get the “Hey! You’re! Uh! Somebody!” about every other week (we will not speak of the dark days as a 20 year-old big girl in our Nation’s Capital where I was constantly mistaken for Monica Lewinsky) and yet somehow I manage to avoid the papparazzi glare on a regular basis.

I’m not Jackie Onassis and this isn’t 1974.  I can get away with regular sized sunglasses. I’m pretty sure you can, to0.

The thing about a trend is you’ve got to know when to let go.  I’m not talking about the hyper-militant Fashionistas who wouldn’t be caught DEAD wearing last year’s Balmain military jackets. That’s dumb, but a good rule is if you’re playing the same card now that you were three years ago without a significant tweak in a modern direction then maybe you want to go ahead and give yourself a little revamp.

Hope this helps! Ask questions in the comments field


  1. So what exactly qualifies as oversized? What’s the alternative? What is not over?

    Comment by S — September 2, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  2. @S. I would say anything larger than a Wayfarer 55 counts as over-size. But it depends on your head shape. The alternative is to go classic, or to go with the current trend of tighter, more classic cut frames, but I hesitate to give any suggestions –other than the Wayfarers and Clubmasters, which look great on everyone– because head and face shapes vary so much.

    @Abby: Big is fine, I’ve got a big melon too. It’s over-size. Also I have never met anyone over 25 other than Alan Cumming who plays off ironic clothing.

    Comment by Plumcake — September 2, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  3. How is any of this anything other than one person’s opinion?

    My opinion is that I look like a horse’s ass in Wayfarers and that there is a fine line between “classic” and “oh, I fell asleep” but that’s merely my opinion.

    I don’t like my sunglasses because I think they’re trendy or cool or make me anything other than what I am. I just happen to think they flatter me. And if it is pissing off the fashionistas, and they are tittering behind their Birkins at me, well that is just an added bonus.

    Comment by Abby — September 2, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  4. well now that you’ve told us lots about what NOT to wear, how about posting some cute outfits or something?

    Comment by a different s — September 2, 2010 @ 5:49 pm


    A lot of those look pretty darn big to me.

    Comment by Abby — September 2, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  6. As far as I’m concerned, oversized sunglasses will never *not* be in style. Why? Because they look great on me and I feel great in them. Can’t get more fashionable than that.

    Comment by Amy — September 2, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  7. I have always been a more practical girl . I wear Costa del Mar . The one’s I wear are called ”Isabela” . There bigger than the normal ones , but just enough to be girly . There not huge . There very functional and as someone who spends lots of time on the water , they are perfect . Not to mention the most comfortable sun glass’s I have ever put on ! I honestly dont think Ill ever wear any other brand/designer and I have had some pretty expensive sun glass’s over the years .

    Comment by Dawn — September 2, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  8. I meant to put this link up ! These are the one’s I have .

    Comment by Dawn — September 2, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  9. Honestly, I have yet to see anyone other than Jackie O really and truly look good in those huge, rounded, bug-eyed, oversized glasses. Avoiding diminutive frames in order to balance a big face or strong features is one thing (I’m in this camp, too); wearing sunglasses so large that you look like a child playing dress up is another.

    Comment by Evie — September 2, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  10. I’m sad, so sad…. my sunglasses are not in style and this is the first time I have disagreed with Plumcake! Actually, I agree with Amy – my sunglasses look good on me. I’ve been wearing the same shape since somewhere in the 70’s and I will always wear them!

    Comment by Susan — September 2, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  11. Sure, super-huge glasses can look silly, but moderately large ones that cover more of the fine skin around your eyes protect against sun damage and wrinkles. This is more important to me as I get older than being on/off trend.

    Comment by Megan — September 2, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  12. I’m with you, Megan. I tend to wear larger than normal sunglasses because I have very, very light-sensitive eyes. Bright light triggers migraines for me, and even on cloudy days I have to wear sunglasses to drive or I can’t see. Some of my bigger shades look ridiculous on me, but I have to wear them anyway.

    Comment by Cat — September 2, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  13. I see your point.. the trend is over, bien sur. But I’m still gonna wear ’em big – and here’s why! Trend to me is such a delicate subjective thing (I’m looking at you, skinny jeans.. *ptoo*) and I have spent my first quarter-of-a-century learning to dress in what makes me feel fantastic. Sure, sometimes it’s necessary to do a little tweaking here and there to stay fresh, but I try to stay true to what I love, and tiny sunglasses just do not make me feel gorgeous, dahling. Super-super oversize sunglasses do not either.. but I do like them a little on the plus size. (Hey, just like the rest of me. (Except my ankles. My ankles are confused and think they belong to a much smaller woman.))

    Comment by Amy — September 2, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  14. Dawn – those are almost identical to my favorite Smith sunglasses :) It’s so hard to find sporty/functional sunglasses that aren’t all “ohai, I just stopped over on my way home from the ULTRA SPACE-AGE AERODYNAMIC ZOOM TRIATHALON.”

    Comment by Evie — September 2, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

  15. I have a firm rule against spending more than fifteen dollars on sunglasses, as they seldom last me longer than two months. I once broke my rule and bought sixty dollar sunglasses on sale for thirty bucks, hoping the quality would by higher and the sunglasses more durable. They lasted two months. Do you have a suggestion at my price point?

    Comment by Karen — September 2, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

  16. I get it over sized is not a good statement to make. I tend to stay away too.

    Comment by Amy — September 2, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

  17. Why do people who object to fashion blogging as “just somebody’s opinion” read and comment on fashion blogs?

    They are indeed someone’s opinion; there are, however, informed opinions and uninformed ones, and we’re all aware that some people have excellent judgment and some do not. The fact that someone is of the opinion something is true (eg “Oversize sunglasses are over”) does not mean that statement is untrue OR meaningless.

    Comment by raincoaster — September 2, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

  18. An informed opinion is still an opinion raincoaster not a fact.

    Also, to some of us, Plumcake is just somebody with an opinion. It’s the internet and she’s writing under a pseudonym so we can’t actually look up her credentials. I read her posts because I like the way she expresses her opinion not because I value her opinion over my own. Her writing is entertaining and funny. It brightens up my desk job. But I’m not going to throw away my large sunglasses for her. I actually don’t have any but if I did have them, I wouldn’t throw them away based on a blog post written by an anonymous blogger.

    Comment by lucy — September 2, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

  19. @Raincoaster: As the link I posted above showed, the opinion stated is clearly at the very least up for debate.

    And I’ll comment on and read wherever and whatever I like, thankyouverymuch.

    What rankles me isn’t differences of opinion on style, which can’t ever be resolved, no matter how informed someone may think they are. What is offensive is assumptions about what a person is based on clothing. I could, for instance, think a woman tottering down the street in crippling shoes had daddy issues. I might even be correct. And while I’ll continue to think she looks stupid, I won’t make any assumptions about what she is.

    Comment by Abby — September 2, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

  20. I’m just going to throw out there: I think what Plummy is talking about are the ‘super-huge you look like a three-year-old wearing her gramma’s glasses in the 70’s shades’ that were all the rage two years ago. The ones that are really out of proportion. Anything that hits at or just above the eyebrow isn’t really considered ‘oversized’ in most situations. It can LOOK oversized depending on your face shape, but as far as actual industry definitions go, that would still be considered standard.

    But as others have said, if you love ’em, rock ’em, who are any of us to tell you no? I also look ridiculous in wayfarers, so even if every single person in the world bought them, I would not. Mine are cute and roundish and go up to my eyebrow because I am a delicate flower with sensitive skin and strong cheekbones so that looks best on me. Regardless of trend, go with what works for you and damn the torpedoes. But, if you are talking trend and au currant in major fashion circles, sadly (or not if you were never fond of them like me), they really are no longer in.

    Comment by Beth C. — September 2, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

  21. But Abby, the statement that a fashion blog is a record of someone’s opinions is simply redundant. It was used to negate the value of what Plumcake said, “This is just opinion.” Now it’s been modified to “this is just the opinion of someone I can’t figure out how to Google effectively.” Neither mean that the opinion is incorrect.

    Fashion blogs are filled with opinions about fashion. This is a given, not an rebuttal!

    I didn’t say you couldn’t comment; in fact, repeated comments are great! Yay, pageview bonus here we come! I feel it superfluous, of course, to point out that your comments are simply your opinions on my opinions on someone else’s opinions. I was just making the point that making the point that a fashion blogger has an opinion about fashion isn’t an effective way of refuting the premise, which is simply that, as a trend, this one has peaked and is over. If you want to argue the point, by all means do; you will presumably do so by stating your opinion. It’s what the internet is made of.

    Making judgments about people based on how they behave, including their clothing choices, is what we who don’t watch reality tv or smoke do to pass the time.

    And Beth, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s those bug eyed things that turn everyone into an emo Keane painting that are over. Plummy laid out the dimensions pretty specifically in the post, actually; Wayfarers, after all, were considered huge when they came back in the 80’s.

    Comment by raincoaster — September 3, 2010 @ 6:36 am

  22. ah, another pissing match….. opinions are like .. well y’all know the rest.

    Comment by g-dog — September 3, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  23. Nice insult raincoaster. I know how to use google perfectly fine and have stalked Plumcake with the best of them. I’m sure you understand that is not the argument I was making.

    At any rate, I still don’t understand why you think saying an opinion Plumcake has is just an opinion because you disagree with her is not a perfectly reasonable and logical thing to do. When is it wrong to value your opinion over someone else’s especially when it comes to something as personal as fashion choices?

    Comment by lucy — September 3, 2010 @ 9:34 am

  24. Really, I can wear Wayfarers again now?
    That is so cool.

    Comment by Church Mom — September 3, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  25. @Church Mom: If you love them you can wear anything. It’s not a matter of being Allowed one thing or another. Wayfarers are always classic, and since we go to church together just give it time. I have lost no fewer than six, count them SIX pairs of Wayfarers in the hallowed halls of Saint Cake’s so you should be able to pick up a pair gratis eventually! I bet you’d look cute in Clubmasters too. Are you going to be at the brunch next Sunday? I’ll bring a pair for you to try on. I miss you, btw! We should go out!

    Comment by Plumcake — September 3, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  26. Actually raincoaster, I have effectively rebutted Plumcake’s opinion with a link to an extremely fashion forward website chock full of large sunglasses. Oh, look, more:,default,sc.html?q=sunglasses&start=0&sz=208

    Hmm, to whom shall I look for trend advice, snarky bloggers or Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs? That’s a toughie! (Not really.)

    Comment by Abby — September 3, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  27. My cold dead hands will have to be pried from my Jackie Ohhs. I don’t think they’re particularly gigantic.

    My beef specifically with Wayfarers/Clubmasters (ah, the Clubmasters I had as a “going to boarding school gift” that got stolen three days after moving in…) is that they’re specifically for a particular kind of look.

    I think it’s easy to conflate “over” with “not compatible with a current trend” but I don’t necessarily believe that’s true. Clubmasters are great (although I deeply, deeply disagree with the contention that they or Wayfarers are a shape that is compatible with almost everyone’s face), but they have a particular look. That look is “Preppy.” Which is fine, I love preppy, and I think that some of the giant sunglasses can go really Paris Hilton circa 2006, but Wayfarers don’t work for everything; I am so not feeling Wayfarers or Clubmasters with pretty sundresses (which, incidentally, might also be over, but in that regard, I say good luck, fashion, because when it is hot, sundresses will never be over).

    All I’m wondering is from where these pronouncements get made. Observation? Can’t be because I live in Austin too, and although I’m clearly not nearly as famous, apparently, I don’t see a huge drop in sunglasses profiles in this town. So it can’t be that Nobody in Austin is wearing them; fashion magazines aren’t saying they’re over, designers’ new profiles aren’t saying they’re over, so why are they over?

    Is it because Plumcake is sick of looking at them? Because that’s a fine reason to declare it on the blog too, but it gives a little more perspective about how many grains of salt, in particular, one should take with said pronouncement.

    Comment by S — September 3, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  28. @Abby: That’s enough. There’s also a difference between large and oversized. I don’t care if you disagree, but cut it out. If you don’t like it or want to hear my opinion, you may leave.

    Comment by Plumcake — September 3, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  29. I’m with Plumcake most of the time, even when I don’t exactly line up perfectly with her opinion. Girl’s got writing style, as well as personal style. However, it bears noting that there are only so many shapes of sunglasses. If you’ve lived more than a few years you’ve seen every form of personal adornment come and go and come again. It becomes difficult to gasp with horror (shocked, shocked!) at how behind the trend someone is. Somewhere, some young cutting edge place, that trend is probably fresh AGAIN. If your perception of your own fabulousness is based on how ahead of trends you are, well, you could wear yourself out just trying to feel good about yourself.

    It must be middle age, but I have adopted Wendy Brandes’ motto as my own: WEAR WHAT YOU WANT. It’s confidence that carries the day.

    Comment by Miss Conduct — September 3, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

  30. Jeez…what’s with all the prickliness, people? Yes, I’m a little sad to find out that gigantic, bug-eye sunglasses are no longer au courant, mainly because they look great on me and it was nice to be on-trend for awhile.

    But if they’re no longer stylish, well, I can always take it as an opportunity to try something new, or I can stay with my bug-eyes and not worry about it. I also continued wearing boot-cut jeans when all the magazines were yawning at them and salivating over skinnies. I knew I wasn’t on-trend, and I didn’t particularly care. But I didn’t write in to Vogue and tell them that they were mean, awful people for telling me that my jeans weren’t stylish anymore.

    Be on-trend or not — it’s up to you. But shooting the fashion messenger is just plain silly.

    Comment by La Petite Acadienne — September 3, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  31. I’m a visual learner. I need pictures :D

    Comment by Kate K — September 3, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

  32. I have a pair of large/oversized glasses, and I will continue to wear them. But I do recognize that they are no longer as trendy as they once were, though at least they aren’t super huge with mega frames and rhinestones everywhere. And like La_Petite_Acadienne, I’ll continue to wear my boot cut jeans until skinnies are passe. I pray that the next denim trend is less silly- if it turns out to be acid washed mom jeans, then I’ll skip that one, too.

    When nearly everyone is wearing something, it’s as cutting edge as a butter knife, e.g. gladiator sandals.

    Comment by SusanC — September 3, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  33. With sunglasses there’s big, and then there’s BIG. Now which one looks better?

    Comment by Lila — September 3, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  34. I love big sunglasses because my eyes are very sensitive to the sun. The larger, not gigantic or anything, sunglasses offer more protection. I was pretty happy when that fad rolled in and I got to cost along with it for a while. The truth is I will be enjoying my large sunglasses forever regardless of present fashion. I like how they look too both on me and other people.

    Comment by makare — September 3, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  35. I wore giant, over-sized glasses all through the 70’s and 80’s. When someone finally convinced me that they didn’t actually make my face look smaller, I switched to human sized glasses. I’m not switching back for anything. Also, I’m never wearing bell bottoms, clogs, or plaid shorts, no matter how “fashionable” they are. Just saying…

    Comment by Ms. Moran — September 3, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  36. I feel like I need a visual of what is oversized proportions vs. acceptably large. I mean, I try not to leave the house looking like an Olson twin, but I tend to look best in glasses that are slightly large for my face. Also, wayfarers are so expensive! Are there decent knockoffs to be found anywhere? I’ve wanted a pair for quite awhile, but can’t find affordable ones anywhere that has enough of a variety for me to find one that works.

    Comment by sugarsick — September 3, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  37. What is the general feeling on aviators? I have a pair that I love, but, being a men’s style, they tend to run on the larger size.
    Also, not that anyone cares, but my feeling on trends is that if they make you look stupid (bug eye glasses, high-waisted jeans, rompers-for-adults-dear-God-make-it-stop) you only get to wear them while they are at the height of their trendiness; but if they make you look good (boot-cut jeans, larger glasses for a larger face), you can keep on wearing them as long as they don’t pass into stupid and no one is likely to bat an eye.

    Comment by daisyj — September 3, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  38. I just hate seeing my frames out of the corners of my eyes.

    Comment by Fabrisse — September 3, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

  39. Aw, Plummy, there goes your pageview bonus!

    I love aviators, but then my dad was a pilot. They’re not huge, and whether or not they are a current trend, they are also a classic, so you can always wear them, although you’ve gotta be careful with the finish. Mirrors? Smoked graduated tones? Much harder to pull off without looking cyberpunk or ironically 70’s, neither of which are particularly flattering looks to anyone.

    There’s also a huge difference between the trendy oversized glasses and glasses that are on the larger side, like Wayfarers.

    Large but not trendily oversized Wayfarers:

    Trendily oversized Jackie O’s:

    Comment by raincoaster — September 3, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  40. Years ago, when I was young and crazy and unembittered by the econ, I paid over 200 € (can’t recall how much over. That was on sale) for a D&G pair that’s sort of an hybrid between the two images posted above. Turns out it wasn’t that stupid of me to spend that kind of money, because other cheaper sunnies I’ve gotten have self-destroyed pretty rapidly while my fancy-schmancy pair is still going strong, so that’s what I’ll be wearing for now, especially since they now feel like a favorite old sweater for the face – very dark and face-hugging and protective. Plus, I really don’t look good with any kind of glasses, on trend or not – small face, no cheekbones, in fact, no real bone structure to speak of, but live in a climate with eye-crushing sunshine +/- 300 days of the year. Anyhow, I guess the moral of this tale is, whatever you do, in my experience it’s better to splurge once.

    Comment by Maggiethecat — September 4, 2010 @ 6:39 am

  41. @Lila: The glasses that Nicole Richie and the young celebrities wear are ridiculous. I’m wondering if those are the kind that Plumcake is referring to. If so, I have to agree with her that those kind is extremely tiresome to see and it’s time for that trend to die. I love space aliens but I don’t want to look like one when I wear sunglasses.

    But the small glasses, especially the ones that were made popular in the late 60’s will just not work on my big wide face. I also wear regular glasses so when I’m out I have to wear the ones that clip over my frames. When I’m in contacts, then I wear my $4 dark brown pair. They’re big, but they also don’t make me look Zaru from Planet X either.

    Comment by Bree — September 4, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  42. I’m not entering into the ‘over/not over’ debate except to enquire where does one buy sunglasses that are not huge? I just got back from a whirlwind world tour and was shopping for sunglasses the whole time – Huge sunglasses were the only things available in all locals from funky to posh.

    I’d love to wear aviators but alas I don’t have the chiselled jawline to carry them off and Wayfarers bring back too many “Ferris Bueller” memories for me to regard them fondly.

    Comment by Thea — September 6, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  43. Me and my ugly clip-ons will be over here, at once envious of you sunglasses-wearing people and thankful that this is not a problem I have.

    Prescriptions? Then where would I put my regular glasses? No, that way lies madness. I’ll keep my ugly clip-ons in the car.

    Comment by TeleriB — September 7, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  44. Since we’re on the sunglass subject, any suggestions about how to buy prescription sunglasses that won’t be horribly unfashionable the minute after I buy them? I can’t wear contacts so the cute-n-cheap sunglasses are out for me, and if I’m going to plunk down $150 or more, I can’t be replacing them all the time. I’m not a particularly trendy person but would prefer not to walk down the street looking like I just stumbled out of a time capsule. So I guess what I’m asking is whether there’s any style classic enough that it will never look ridiculous (other than the Wayfarers suggested above which, alas, don’t flatter me)?

    Comment by AnotherKate — September 10, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  45. Trends, shmrends. Once I figured out what looked good on me (think classic, black, old fashioned, fitted) I decided to stick with it, and I’ve had great luck giving trends the old f-u. Mainly because I almost never, ever look good in anything remotely popular. And I will keep rocking my giant sunglasses, be they in or out, because I look so silly in regular or teeny glasses. PLUS a pair of huge lenses will block the UVs from hitting not just the eye, but all the skin around the eyes that is oh so prone to wrinkling. Come to think of it, I’d like one giant dark lens for my whole face.

    Comment by The BabbyMama — September 10, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

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