Elvis Sunglasses

Exploring the Sunglasses Style, Legacy, and Brand of Rock n Roll Legend Elvis Presley

In the annals of music history, few names resonate as profoundly as that of Elvis Presley. The undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, his extraordinary voice, magnetic stage presence, and revolutionary musical stylings left an indelible mark on the world. Yet, it wasn’t just his musical prowess that set him apart; Elvis was also a trailblazer in matters of style and fashion. From his immaculate pompadour to his impeccably tailored ensembles, he redefined the notion of celebrity image. At the heart of his distinctive aesthetic lay a simple accessory that would go on to become a symbol of his unparalleled coolness: his sunglasses.

With sunglasses that defined his charismatic identity, Elvis captivated his audiences which transcended cultural boundaries, not only through his music but also through his legacy in style and influence that still remains till this day. In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the history of Elvis’s eyewear styles and attempt to uncover the specific brands and styles of sunglasses that resonated with the King himself. 

Elvis Presley Sunglasses: Exploring his Fashion & Style

In an era marked by conservative suits and neatly combed hair, Elvis Presley stormed onto the scene with a fashion sense that was as rebellious as his music. The 1950s witnessed a wave of conformity, yet here was a young man unafraid to shatter the norms. His fusion of rugged masculinity and daring flair made him stand out like a rock ‘n’ roll comet in a sea of conservatively dressed stars.

While contemporaries like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby adhered to the classic suave gentleman look, Elvis embraced the untamed spirit of youth. His penchant for bold colors, form-fitting clothes that accentuated his physique, and those electrifying pompadours didn’t just capture the eyes of his admirers; they captured the essence of an era on the cusp of change. In contrast to other musicians of his time, such as Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, who leaned towards a more conventional image, Elvis’s style was a full-throttle departure.

Elvis’s attire is still iconic to this day.

Elvis Presley Sunglasses: Attributing a Designer 

Elvis Presley’s most iconic sunglasses are a style based on the famous Aviator Sunglasses. Aviators were first designed and manufactured in the 1936’s by Basch and Lomb who, at the time, operated and owned the popular brand Ray-Ban. Aviators are considered a classic style and to this day are still one of the most popular styles of sunglasses in the world. Elvis’s sunglasses are an evolution of the style. While still having the classic elements of the Aviators, mainly the distinctive teardrop lenses, Elvis Shades took this one step further incorporating bold rims, thick sides with circular accents, and, of course, the unique gold colorway. These glasses were most famous for being worn by Elvis during his concert in Madison Square Gardens in 1972.

Elvis’s TCB Sunglasses: As sold at auction in 2021 (Image courtesy of Rockhurst Auctions)

It’s no secret as to the brand and designer of the famed Elvis Sunglasses. Elvis sunglasses were known as the NAUTIC and were produced by German-born designer Konstantin Livas. In an interview done by Neostyle, the Livas talks about how Elvis first came across the iconic frames while in Las Vegas while visiting his local optometrist on Sunset Boulevard. Another name I see thrown about quite often is Dennis Roberts who I believe to be the owner of the eyewear store Optique Boutique. It’s unclear the connection between Konstantin and Roberts but it can be assumed that Konstantin designed the sunglasses while Roberts was just the store owner and Elvis’s personal Optometrist. I often see Roberts being given the credit for the design of the sunglasses but this is incorrect.

Elvis was apparently immediately enamored by the stark design and uniqueness of the frames having said to have purchased 6 pairs right there and then. He later returned to purchase an additional 3 more pairs of custom-designed and built-in 18-carat gold. This also included the variations of the NAUTIC sunglasses with Elvis’s initials featured on the front center of the frames. These sunglasses are often referred to as the TCB Sunglasses but there are differences between the same variations of the Nautic ‘European’ style and the ‘TCB’ pair mainly being down to being made from a combination of plastic and metal, as, these full metal versions, weighed a hefty 120 grams and weren’t exactly convenient for everyday life. The TCB Stands for ‘Taking Care of Business’ which was a personal motto and slogan of Elvis at this time.

The side-on angle of the sunglasses. You can see the lettering TCB on the side.
Elvis Sunglasses: An Auction of Epic Proportion

In 2021 a pair of Elvis’s sunglasses, the ones pictured above, were sold at auction by Rockhurst Auctions and they were able to shed some more light on the Elvis shades. The information on this lot, with a guide price of between $15,000 – $20,000, talks about the glasses owner after Elvis, friend Lamar Fike. He talked about the input Elvis had in designing the glasses and talked about how their sheer weight made wearing them for extended periods of time difficult. So how much did these sunglasses end up selling for at auction? Well, the sunglasses smashed its modest guide price and ended up selling for a staggering $126,500.

So what options do you have if you want to get your hands on your very own pair of Elvis Sunglasses? Obviously, it’s impossible to get your hands on an authentic pair as they were, in essence, custom-made for Elvis. That being said, due to their popularity, many companies have made replica-style sunglasses that can be found in a variety of shops and stores online. Even the Graceland Official Store, sells a plastic pair of gold sunglasses for $25,00 which is a great pick for any authenticity to the glasses. A quick search on Amazon found a whole host of other companies producing similar style sunglasses some as low as $9.00 a pair.

These Replica Sunglasses can be found on Amazon for just $12.49 (here).