by Pat Jacobs
Granny and Glassless were two short-lived fads of the 1960s for the eyes.
Contrary to the name, granny glasses (they were also referred to as Ben Franklin glasses) were a signature look of the young and "with it" crowd.
They were first sighted in California in 1965. "In fact, I clearly remember first seeing them on Roger McGuinn of The Byrds", recalled Pamela Foster, who was in grade school at the time.
"I thought they were SO cool! As soon as they became available here (the Midwest), I begged my mom for a pair. I didn't usually bug my mother about these things, so she indulged me. I even wore them to school, becoming a trend setter! (No one else in the school had them.)
These glasses were both fit for sunglasses and prescription. They consisted of a small wire frame or half-frame with round or square colored lenses.
"Grannies" became a staple of Mod fashion. John Lennon wore them, as did George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, and Janis Joplin (I think she wore a variation of the look), among others.
These glasses could also be accompanied by "granny skirts" (baggy, ankle-length skirts).
TIME magazine (from late Dec. 1965) reported on the new fad that was "seen on teen gals and guys-hoot-owl (!) or granny glasses. They may not be as flattering as the old "streamlined" glasses. But they have immediate impact and they're fun!"
By 1967, the fad had died out; wearing the glasses had become uncool.
But years later, there was a resurgence in popularity through the grunge era and the "neo hippies" (the children and grandchildren of the original hippies).
Granny glasses may have been responsible for making antique eyeglasses a popular collector's item.
Glassless glasses were also popular in 1965 (this was simply wearing eyeglass frames WITHOUT the lenses; it was intended to mock the "Clark Kent" look that was popular among adults then.) THIS fad spun off into the granny glasses look.
"There was a blonde dancer on Shindig that wore glassless glasses; her name was Carole Shelyne", Foster said. "An issue of 'In' magazine, I believe, featured an interview on her in one of their regular segments, 'People are talking about' or 'In People', something of that nature.
She mentioned that her eyesight was fine; one of the show's producers, I think, decided to have her wear the glassless glasses.
For those who remember and watched 'Shindig', she's basically the one you remember; she stood out!"
Like granny glasses, the glassless fad faded out rather quickly also, because America's youth were becoming seriously politically active; these fads were considered frivolous.
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