The Sunglasses Wardrobe: Elton John, Where Are You?


Refinery29’s Georgia Murray put together an interesting piece in early May (2018) discussing what she calls the ‘sunglasses wardrobe’. The impetus behind the article and slideshow is a concept that model and designer Betty Bachz came up with in her youth. To hear Murray tell it, Bachz has so many pairs of sunglasses that she needs an entire wardrobe to keep track of them all. Elton John, where are you?

If you know anything about Elton John, you know that he loves sunglasses. Some reports say he owns as many as 2,000 pairs. It could be more, it could be less. At any rate, John’s collection is far more vast than what you or I could ever hope to collect in the car glove box. It turns out that he may have some stiff competition in Bachz.

One Pair Led to Another

Murray reports that Bachz’s collection started out like any other collection: with one pair. But unlike the rest of us, Bachz viewed sunglasses as more than just eye protection or a fashion accessory. She saw sunglasses as no different from any other piece of clothing. And that was the start of what has become an incredibly impressive collection.

As a young girl, Bachz begin collecting eyewear the same way others collect shoes. She wanted a pair for every outfit she might put together. So fascinated was she by sunglasses that she began designing outfits around her eyewear. One thing led to another and the rest is history. Bachz says that after years of collecting, she has “an enormous eyewear collection, from vintage pieces to contemporary pieces from all the big brands.”

But Are They Clothing?

The average consumer might get a look at the Bachz or Elton John collections and think excess. And perhaps that’s true. But can you make the case that sunglasses are, indeed, clothing? Perhaps. Let’s stop and consider what sunglasses really are.

Sunglasses are eye protection above everything else, explains designer eyewear distributor Olympic Eyewear. Like other companies that do what Olympic Eyewear does, Olympic Eyewear’s priority is to create sunglasses that offer sufficient UV and direct sunlight protection. All the style in the world doesn’t much matter if a pair of sunglasses does not protect the eyes.

With that said, what makes sunglasses functionally different from a long-sleeved shirt or a hat? Not much. The clothing we wear serves to protect us from the elements. That is its first and most important function. So whether clothing looks good or not, it fulfills is purpose if it keeps us warm, dry, and protected against the wind and sun.

Clothing Can Be Fashionable

If we agree that sunglasses are legitimate pieces of clothing, then we can move on to the idea of fashion. That’s where people like Bachz and El John excel. As long as they are going to wear sunglasses, they might just as well choose pairs that look good and are well coordinated with the rest of their clothing. It really makes a lot of sense.

We could make the case that nobody needs 2,000 pairs of sunglasses. Functionally speaking, that’s true. Just one pair would do as long as it offers adequate UV protection. But still, how many of us own just one pair of jeans or one shirt? We all have a wardrobe consisting of multiple outfits for different purposes. The only difference with people like Betty Bachz and Elton John is the that they believe they should have multiple pairs of sunglasses so that they always have something that looks good with their outfits. To each his or her own.