Collection: Tortoise Shell Glasses for Women and Men

Some styles never go out of fashion, and tortoise shell glasses certainly belong in that category. Timeless eyewear styles are rarely achieved, but tortoise shell specs are certainly that, and have remained a popular fashion choice throughout most of the 20th century, and still do today.

Up until the early 1970s, these frames were made out of actual tortoise shells, but this practice is now thankfully illegal. Modern frames are made from a stained, high-quality acetate material that combines the authentic tortoise shell look, with the durability and functionality of the contemporary design.

Tortoise Shell Glasses for Women and Men
  • Capella Round Tortoise Eyeglasses from ANRRI, front view
    Capella $45
  • Acallaris cateye tortoise Eyeglasses from ANRRI front view
    Acallaris $45
  • Ishtar cateye striped granite Eyeglasses from ANRRI, front view
    Ishtar $45
  • ojando square brown green Eyeglasses from ANRRI, front view
    Ojando $45
  • kelsey square leopard Eyeglasses from ANRRI, front view
    Kelsey $45
  • artemis tortoise acetate Eyeglasses from ANRRI, front view
    Artemis $45

Tortoise Shells - The Beginnings of Eyewear Fashion

Until the beginning of the 20th century, eyewear wasn't exactly a fashion accessory. Glasses were utilitarian, made of natural materials such as wood or cow bone, and lacked any sense of fashion. But this was all about to change.

When Harold Lloyd, a young Hollywood actor, graced the motion picture scene in 1917 with his comedic short film 'Over the Fence', the stigma of wearing eyeglasses was erased practically overnight.

His plain attire and tortoise shell glasses, that he wore like an everyday American chap, made his portrayal relatable, especially to people with the need to wear corrective lenses. Lloyd's spec'd appearance in 'Over the Fence' took center stage in the film, making his character a smash hit.

After that, eyewear fashion was born, thanks to a trendsetting actor and tortoise shell glasses.


Classic tortoise shell glasses combine rich tones of mottled honey, different shades of brown and black, but can be found in many variations of the classic patterns, colors and shapes. While it can be said that their popularity had been declining, but the recent popular surge of vintage design has certainly brought them back. Tortoise shells are one of the most desirable styles on the eyewear market today.

The many shapes and colors of tortoise shells can be worn with many types of outfits, from classic to modern, formal to casual, conservative to hipster. This means that there are shapes and sizes available to match just about every facial type, and look great on both men and women.

It's important to remember, that because tortoise shell patterns are quite detailed, the glasses are best worn avoiding busy patterned clothing, it will go clash with the frames. Solid colors go best with tortoise shells.

Choosing the right glasses

Although tortoise shell glasses are considered a category of their own, there and many shapes, sizes, colors and patterns available, so it's there are a few things to consider when picking the pair that's right for you. The shape of your face will determine the width of the frame, and the shape will help you achieve the look you're going for.

Aviator, square, round, cat eye, Wayfarer, Turing, oversized, etc., will all give you a different look, and then there are also the colors to consider. Although the pattern itself is usually quite similar, there are many color combinations available beyond the classic honey, brown and black. You may want to consider your eye color, skin tones, and the type of clothing you typically wear.

Then there is the quality to consider. Inexpensive glasses are often made from cheap plastics that can not only look unappealing, but can wear out prematurely, break easily, feel shabby and disposable. High-end tortoise shells are made from quality acetates that 'look and feel' expensive.

Tortoise shell frames remain a popular choice for fully rimmed glasses, the mottled tones of amber, honey and black are a traditional style that matches the majority of skin tones and fashions for both men and women. Best of all, they are no longer made of real tortoise shell, and can be worn guilt free. All you have to do is chose the pair that looks best on you!