International Women’s Day – iconic women in glasses who made history

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th, and we want to take a look back through some of the iconic women who have rocked stylish eyewear whilst making history.

There have been lots of powerful women throughout history who have had a hugely positive impact on today’s world. From influencing civil rights to making a name for women in sports, you’ll find women who have left a legacy in every aspect of the past. Of course, being who we are, we love the fact that some of these incredible women were sporting gorgeous and statement eyewear while they changed the world for the better. Let’s take a look at some of history’s greatest women in glasses.

Rosa Parks

When focusing on great women in history for IWD 2024, we can’t ignore American civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Parks is probably best known for her famous role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The scene took place in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Parks rejected a bus driver’s order to vacate her seat in favor of a white passenger, and that was no small action in a time when there were segregation laws. This stance led to her arrest for civil disobedience.

Parks was not the only person who rejected segregation, but she became a figurehead for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her case was challenged in court and inspired people to boycott the Montgomery buses, something that became an important symbol of the movement.

Rosa Parks became an international icon, and she did so while wearing oval eyeglasses. Unobtrusive eyewear was encouraged at the time, and Parks’ rimless, oval spectacles were a subtle style, not detracting from her recognizable face.

Audrey Hepburn

British actress Audrey Hepburn was iconic for many reasons, but we want to focus on her famous character from the movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Holly Golightly, dressed in Givenchy and wearing Oliver Goldsmith statement sunglasses, is one of the most iconic images of 20th-century American cinema.

The sunglasses worn by Hepburn in the movie were a stroke of genius, an instantly recognizable style that went on to influence eyewear fashion for decades to come. The oversized cat eye-shaped frames with black lenses were created by Oliver Goldsmith in 1960, based on a style that was popular at the time. With dark lenses and a large frame, they give the wearer an enigmatic look, perfect for society girl Holly Golightly and all the women who have wanted to emulate her since.

The trend for sunglasses in this style started with the award-winning movie and is still going strong today. It’s a flattering statement style that has appeared on the faces of celebrities on and off-screen since Hepburn gave it iconic status.


Audrey Hepburn

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving First Lady of the US, from 1933-45, but she was much more than that. Following her term as First Lady, she served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She had a strong influence on the writing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was given a standing ovation when the assembly officially adopted the declaration.

Roosevelt was part of an influential family, but her childhood was a difficult one; losing both her parents and one of her brothers at a young age. Her marriage to Franklin Roosevelt was complicated, but she supported him through his political career and redefined the role of First Lady to become one of the world’s most powerful and influential women of the time.

Giving press releases, writing a newspaper column, and making public appearances on her husband’s behalf allowed Roosevelt to advocate for women in the workplace. She also promoted civil rights for African Americans and other minority groups, which truly earned her the rank of Most Admired Woman in Gallup’s poll.

While she rarely wore glasses in public as a young woman, Roosevelt was often seen in recognizable round glasses with a heavy black browline. These stylish spectacles had a cat-eye style that was popular in the 1950s and 60s, giving Roosevelt a contemporary look that suited her well. 

Billie Jean King

Sportspeople can be just as influential as political figures, inspiring young women to follow in their footsteps. American tennis player Billie Jean King, winner of 39 Grand Slam titles, is an enthusiastic advocate for gender equality and social justice for women.

As founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation, she has done a huge amount for women in sports. By winning the famous ‘Battle of the Sexes’ tennis match against Bobby Riggs, she secured a win against sexism for women everywhere.

King has invested in and advocated for many groups that promote women in sports, and many people recognize her contribution to second-wave feminism.

When it comes to eyewear, Billie Jean King is known for wearing the round, metal-framed glasses that were popular in the 1960s and 70s when she was playing tennis. The style is back in fashion with today’s love for retro designs.


Billie Jean King

Image sourced from Billie Jean King’s Instagram @billiejeanking

A big thank you

We want to round off with a big thank you to all the great women in history that we’ve talked about and those we haven’t been able to mention for making a huge difference in the lives of women today.

If any of the incredible women mentioned in this blog for IWD 2024 have inspired you to wear eyewear like theirs, browse our women’s eyewear collection today.