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Exploring Clark Kent’s Glasses: A Superhero’s Disguise

Jamie Mendiola

Written By:

Jamie Mendiola

Updated: 18 April 2024 •  
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Superman is known for being many things: a shy journalist, an alien from outer space, and the world-renowned Man of Steel.
 
But did you know he’s got one more title under his belt? That’s right, he’s also an eyewear icon in his own right. When Superman goes back to being Clark Kent, eyeglasses are part of his persona no matter where he goes. Honestly, there’s no Superman without his glasses, which keep his crime-fighting secret intact.
 
Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the iconic glasses worn in various portrayals of the caped crusader over the decades.
 

Clark Kent’s glasses throughout the decades

1. Kirk Alyn and his minimalist wire-framed glasses

 
kirk alyn first superman actor

Kirk Alyn, the first actor to play Clark Kent, wore ‘minimalist chic’ wire-framed glasses. Source: The Dipp

 
‘Superman’ splashed onto the big screen for the first time in 1948. Due to its tremendous popularity, this live-action movie was turned into a 15-part film series, with Kirk Alyn in the main role.
 
Here, our beloved hero wears a pair of thin, wire-framed glasses that punctuate Clark Kent’s intellectual side. Despite being made over 60 years ago, the appeal of the glasses still holds up to this day with its minimalist chic design.
 
If you want the look for yourself, you might be happy to know that the wire-framed glasses trend is making a comeback.
 
If you want to stand out from everyone else wearing this trend, thin wire frames in a cat-eye or geometric shape, like Mouqy’s Celebrate, are a must.
 
Mouqy's Celebrate glasses

Mouqy’s geometric matte black Celebrate wire-frames.

 

2. George Reeves and his campy round acetate glasses

 
george reeves first superman on tv

George Reeves, the first actor to portray Clark Kent on TV, wore acetate tortoiseshell glasses for the role. Source: 13th Dimension

 
In the 1950s, Superman flew into the small screen and captured the hearts of TV viewers. ‘Adventures of Superman’, with George Reeves at its helm, aired for six years from 1952 to 1958.
 
This series took Clark Kent’s style into campy territory, with a pork pie hat and a pair of round acetate glasses becoming staples of his outfit.
 
If anything, the journalist looks more like a serious detective out to solve crimes, à la the film noir genre.
 
If you want to steal his look, round glasses with acetate frames is the way to go. Bonus points if you find a pair with a funky tortoiseshell pattern, like Mouqy’s Mie glasses.
 
Better yet, acetate frames are super tough like the superhero who popularized them, so they’ll last you an extra long time.
 
mie oval tortoise front view

Mouqy’s oval tortoiseshell Mie glasses.

 

3. Christopher Reeve and his oversized square glasses

 
cristopher reeve in oversized square glasses

Christopher Reeve wore oversized square glasses in tortoiseshell throughout the four movies in which he played Superman. Source: Pinterest

 
If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, Christopher Reeve is probably who comes to mind when we say Superman.
 
The late actor first donned Superman’s cape in 1978. This led to three more sequels, cementing his place in film history and Clark Kent’s status in the DC Universe.
 
With his slicked back hair, strong jawline, and striking blue eyes framed by oversized square glasses, Reeve’s version of Clark Kent was by far the most comic book-accurate at the time.
 
The oversized tortoiseshell glasses worn in the films was reflective of eyeglasses trends at the time, but has also come back in trend ever since. The design is versatile enough to cater to a wide variety of aesthetics, whether you’re going for geeky chic or dark academia.
 
Whether you want to pay tribute to Christopher Reeve’s take on Superman or simply love the style, Mouqy’s Haley glasses will fit the bill.
 
haley square tortoise front view

Mouqy’s square tortoiseshell Haley glasses.

 

4. Dean Cain and his sultry browline glasses

 
dean cain in browline glasses

Clark Kent, played here by Dean Cain, had unique tortoiseshell browline glasses to give his look a modern update. Source: IMDB

 
Fast-forward to the 90s, and we have a new Superman/Clark Kent on our screens with the hit TV show, ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’.
 
In this revival, Dean Cain in the titular role breathes new life into the superhero’s alter ego with a more confident, modern take. Say goodbye to the nerdy sweetheart of the past, and say hello to a dashing journalist in sharp suits.
 
As the episodes go by, you’ll also see Clark Kent in a sleek pair of browline glasses with tortoiseshell upper rims.
 
If this look caught your eye, you’re in luck as browline glasses fit just about any face shape. Its thick upper rim can balance out a round face shape. At the same time, the bare lower frame complements a strong, square jawline.
 
Emulate Dean Cain’s charismatic look with the Artist glasses.
 
artist browline tortoise front view

Mouqy’s browline tortoiseshell Artist frames.

 

5. Tom Welling and his classic rectangular glasses

 
tom welling in black rectangular glasses

Tom Welling as Clark Kent went the classic route with black rectangular glasses. Source: Smallville Wiki

 
By the time the Noughties rolled around, ‘Smallville’ had started airing on TV, with Tom Welling in a star-making turn as young Clark Kent.
 
In one episode, Clark Kent has an emotional moment of donning his iconic glasses for the first time. To Lois Lane he says, “I’ll be ready, hiding in plain sight.” And that’s exactly what his glasses help him do.
 
Welling’s Clark Kent dons a thick-framed pair of rectangular glasses, which is arguably one of the most subtle and timeless pairs on this list. If simplicity is what you’re after, this is the pair for you.
 
Recreate his look with the Dylan glasses.
 
dylan rectangle black front view

Mouqy’s rectangular black Dylan glasses.

 

6. Henry Cavill and his distinctive rectangular frames

 
henry cavill in black rectangular glasses

As the latest incarnation of Superman/Clark Kent, Henry Cavill sported distinctive yet understated black rectangular glasses Source: Twitter

 
Last but not least, we have Englishman Henry Cavill playing our favorite hero in the DC Universe. His casting marked the first time a non-American actor got the role, and he certainly played it like the rent was due.
 
In his version, Clark Kent is less of a shy, bumbling nerd, and more of an ambitious newsman.
 
Cavill’s Clark Kent’s spectacles of choice bear the closest resemblance to Welling’s portrayal. The black rectangular frames complete his ‘disguise’ and make the model-esque Cavill that bit more convincing as a go-getter reporter.
 
While Cavill may not be a part of the DC Universe for the foreseeable future, you can still nail his look with Mouqy’s Joe glasses.
 
joe rectangle black recommended for bald

Mouqy’s rectangular black Joe glasses.

 

The true origin story of Clark Kent’s glasses

originally supermans glasses was kryptonian

In one of the Superman comic book series, the origin of his iconic glasses was Kryptonian. Source: Smallville Wiki

 
Despite how simple it looks, Superman’s iconic glasses have more to them than meets the eye.
 
In the movies, the superhero gets his first pair of glasses from his dad (see: Man of Steel), which seems pretty ordinary. However, in the Silver Age Superman comics, you’ll get a different story.
 
In that series, Clark made the spectacles himself by building frames around Kryptonian glass shards from the rocket ship he was sent to Earth in. However, the shards can’t be cut or shaped as easily as Earth-grade glass. This meant he started out with nerdy, oversized glasses, which helps his seemingly flimsy disguise seem more plausible.
 
The glasses’ material also came with another benefit in that they are indestructible, like the man himself. Superman’s regular glasses would melt off easily whenever he activated his heat vision by accident, making them a less practical option.
 
In contrast, his Kryptonian pair didn’t break, melt, or crack under intense pressure. He could wear his specs while flying around and they wouldn’t get so much as a scratch.
 
In the real world, the closest equivalent would be Mouqy’s impact-resistant lenses. Made from polycarbonate, these lenses are much more durable than standard plastic lenses. Check out our lens guide for more info on how it works.
 

How science proved the disguise of Clark Kent’s glasses

the science behind supermans disguise

Superman’s simple disguise has always been the butt of jokes, but it may not actually be so easy to spot after all.

 
A disguise usually means covering your entire face. Think Batman with his menacing mask, or Spiderman covering himself from head to toe.
 
However, Superman only wears a pair of glasses when he’s off-duty. And somehow, it works! While you might laugh and question his disguise (or lack thereof), a pair of glasses has more power than you might expect.
 
In a 2016 study, researchers found that it may be easier than one thinks to get tricked by the ‘Clark Kent’ disguise. For all 59 students surveyed, their facial detection skills dropped by 6% when it came to re-identifying photos of people wearing glasses after being shown photos of those same people sans glasses.
 
henry cavill as superman in new york

Henry Cavill bravely put the glasses disguise to the test in Times Square, New York. Source: The Independent

 
Interestingly, even Henry Cavill has tested this theory himself! In an Instagram post, the actor took a video of himself wearing the Superman shirt while out and about in New York City.
 
The result? Not one person seemed to recognize him. Despite hanging out at Times Square alongside massive movie posters featuring his mug, no one noticed. As he so succinctly wrote in his caption, “Dear Doubter, The glasses are good enough.”
 

How to style and wear Clark Kent’s glasses

henry cavill in glasses boss ad

When life imitates art: Henry Cavill appeared in a BOSS ad with glasses, bringing to mind his famous caped alter ego. Source: Cosmic Book News

 
While Superman’s look is usually categorized under ‘sexy nerd’, his many varieties of glasses have managed to stay timeless and relevant throughout the years.
 
Here are a few tips to help you pull off Clark Kent-style glasses.
 

  • Pick your pair in a color that complements your skin tone. Clark usually goes for black or neutral frames to match his cool skin tone. If you want to spice things up a little, you can even look to earlier versions of Superman and opt for a tortoiseshell design.
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  • Make sure your glasses match your face shape. You can virtually try on a pair before you make a decision, or look through our detailed guide on choosing frames for one’s face shape.
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  • If you’re going for browline glasses, try matching your outfit to the print/color of the upper rim. For instance, if the upper rim is black, pair the glasses with a black outfit for an instantly chic combo.

 

Get your superhero look with ease!

While we can’t all be Kryptonite heroes in disguise, you can still find the perfect pair of glasses to match your super personality. Plus, it can complete your daily look with little to no effort.
 
If you enjoyed this pop culture-themed eyewear guide, be sure to check out more on Mouqy’s blog!

Jamie Mendiola
Jamie is a writer and non-profit volunteer advocating for mental health. When not typing up a storm at work, you'll find her binge-watching Netflix or meditating like Yoda.

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