By Mary N. DiZazzo

Sunglasses: A Shady History

Ciao bella,
Sunglasses started off with a dark history. Traced back to the Roman Emperor Nero who viewed the gladiator competitions through polished light emerald green gems held up to his eyes.

The actual invention of sunglasses is known to be around 1268 and 1289. A visual and historic recollection of early sunglasses is a painting done by Tommaso da Modena in 1352. This was the first portraiture with sunglasses, more were to follow making it a fashion symbol of distinction or honor.

Around the 12th century in China early sunglasses served a special purpose and it wasn’t to block the rays of sun. Chinese judges had routinely worn smoke-colored quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court!

Italy developed the prescription sunglass in 1430.

In 1780 our grand old Ben Franklin developed the bifocal lenses.

It wasn’t until the 20th Century that modern type sunglasses came to be to protect the eyes. In 1929 Sam Foster, founder of The Foster Grant Company sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses at Woolworth Stores on The Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Making Sunglasses chic and fashionable was a style advertising campaign by the comb and glass firm of Foster Grant.

By 1930 Sunglasses were all the rage!

With World War Two brewing in 1936, Ray Ban designed anti-glare aviator style sunglasses, using polarized lens technology newly created by Edwin H. Land, founder of Polaroid Corporation. They also designed a slightly drooping frame perimeter to maximally shield an aviator’s eyes, when repeatedly glancing downward toward a plane’s instrument panel. Fliers were issued the glasses at no charge, and the public in 1937 was able to purchase the model that banned the sun’s rays as Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses.

Well-known fashion designers and Hollywood stars escalated the sunglass craze in the 70s with their brand name lines. A giant industry developed where only a few decades earlier none existed. As women since ancient times had hidden seductively behind an expanded fan or a dropped parasol, modern women—and men—discovered an allure in wearing sunglasses, irrespective of solar glare.

So grab yourself a fav pair of shades and be cool!!

Buona giornata, and God bless the United States of America!

--Mary N. DiZazzo-Trumbull

Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns at Mary is a third-generation cosmetologist and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183 or