It’s easy to look through magazines or scroll through Instagram today and see hundreds – no, thousands – of fashionable men who are wearing the latest trends, the biggest brands, and the best clothing. From Harry Styles to Timothée Chalamet, the modern man’s feeds are inundated with actors who toe the line in fashion and take risks.
But many of those leading men have stylists. They’re paid to dress a certain way or to look a certain way. I doubt Chalamet is wearing a harness in his free time (and, well, more power to him if he is). The influencers you follow are wearing clothes from brands that sponsor their posts. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to personal style nowadays, which leads me to ask: who should guys look to for genuine inspiration?
Look about 60 years in the past.
Recently, I’ve been taking style cues from the likes of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, the two Hollywood Atlases who seem to still be holding the world of men’s fashion on their shoulders. With a focus on wearable pieces in simple color palettes and selective accessories that were both form and function, these men really defined an era of how men should dress. And we still feel it today.
And one such instance of this is with the iconic Persol 714, or more commonly known as the Steve McQueens. Considered by many to be the granddaddy of sunglasses, they don’t just define the Italian eyewear brand, but the very ethos of Steve McQueen’s laidback approach to style.
A Hollywood History
The success of Persol today can be tied directly to the silver screen. Prior to the 1960s, Persol had limited reach in the United States and was more of a cottage brand within Italy, making sunglasses for pilots and racecar drivers. While the quality and form of the glasses were undeniably chic (or should we say, “elegante”?) they couldn’t compete in the burgeoning U.S. market against domestic brands.
For a brand that began in 1917, it took until 1961 for Persol to receive global recognition. This came in the form of the Italian comedy Divorce Italian Style, directed by Pietro Germi and starring Marcello Mastroianni. A pair of sunglasses, the 649 model which had originally been designed for tram drivers, were donned by the Italian star throughout the film and soon the brand began to receive an international spotlight of its own.
The success of these frames on screen motivated Persol to open a shop on Rodeo Drive in 1962.
Five years later, during the filming of Steve McQueen’s The Thomas Crown Affair, Persol’s iconic status was cemented by McQueen donning his pair of 714’s throughout the film. In fact, they weren’t even part of the costuming originally, but part of McQueen’s personal wardrobe. So popular were the blue-tinted sunglasses that Persol soon became a brand synonymous with style.
Since then, they have maintained a cult following that has only been reignited since 2010 when Persol rereleased the original 714 model frames on the 30th anniversary of McQueen’s death. They are now part of the main line-up of frames that one can choose from and the pair that many gravitate toward for their sleek design, vintage feel, and overall complementary shape that matches nearly everyone who tries them on.
Are They Worth the Hype?
As with any accessory, you don’t want it to compete with your outfit, but to enhance it. That is exactly what the Persol 714s do. From outdoor opera festivals to a funeral, I’ve worn these sunglasses endlessly and every time I do, they feel right at home in any occasion.
Not just that, but they simply feel good on. They’re made from acetate, as most sunglasses are, but these have a lightness to them that belies their sturdy craftsmanship. I opted for the Havana colorway, which is a darker tortoise. The acetate adds an inner vibrancy to the lighter components, making it beautiful while also being comfortable.
Most notable about the 714 model is the ability to fold up. With five hinges, it can easily fit into your breast pocket. And if you’re worried about the bridge hinge feeling odd when you’re wearing it, I can assure you that the construction of the frames make it hardly noticeable when worn.
- Available in 5 color options
- Prescription lenses and monogramming for additional price
- Cellulose acetate construction
- High-bridge for additional comfort