Through a glass darkly

When your retro wardrobe becomes hip again, beware.

They say that, if you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion. Not that this has ever particularly interested me; if I buy something to be in fashion, I expect it eventually to go out, and if I have something that's not in fashion, I actually get quite annoyed when suddenly, everyone else starts wearing it, making me look like I'm following the herd. (It's fine to follow the herd if that was your intention, but when the herd suddenly catches up with you, that's quite different.)

Twenty years ago my cousin Mary, who was - and is - a long-haul air hostess, brought me back a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer IIs from some far-off land. She was always bringing back things that seemed wonderfully glamorous (this was some time before the internet, when things were harder to find). I wore them constantly, come summertime. At some point in the late 1980s, I had them fitted with optical lenses to help correct my -0.75 myopia, which meant that I was rarely out of them.

Wayfarers have not been fashionable now for years and years. Oh, the pitying looks I got off people when they saw that my sunglasses were so completely hors de mode. It's not that I didn't have other sunglasses. I did. My metal-framed Calvin Kleins were beautiful and I looked good in them, but the lenses were small in comparison to the almost saucer-like circumference of my Wayfarer IIs and so they let the sun in at the top and at the sides. I have my super-trendy Jil Sander sunglasses with their blue glass and silver metal frame, but the design is a bit stupid and the bit that sits on top of your ears digs into my head, giving me a headache. So I rarely wore them.

My Wayfarers, on the other hand, were perfect. They did everything sunglasses should. God, I loved them. However, in terms of fashionability, things got so bad that I did, I admit shamefully, start to apologise for my Ray-Bans before people could even comment on them. "I know they're really unfashionable, but they're really good at keeping the sun out/they've got optical lenses . . ."

Then, at the beginning of this year, a funny thing started to happen. People started saying, "Wow. Wayfarers - they're really trendy." (If you're interested, they're the sunglasses Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's and the design is 55 years old.) My sunglasses were back in fashion. To be really trendy, however, you're meant to buy them in white; but these actually suit no one, so people buy them in tortoiseshell, just like mine.

This April, and just as Wayfarers were starting to appear in all the glossies, my pair fell on a stone floor and broke. I was inconsolable. I have tried, but nothing else comes close. Despite my boy friend's pro testations (he hates them and says they cover my whole face; I think this is a good thing), I am going to buy exactly the same thing again.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 23 July 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Pink Planet