Classically, tortoise color has a base shade of brown with mottled flecks spread throughout in hues of yellow or amber. Today, “tortoise color” refers more to the speckled tortoiseshell pattern than the color—it may stray from these classic colors to include any colors, really! 

But what does tortoise color look like when it comes to glasses frames, and where did its pattern originate? Read on if you’d like to take a closer look with us at this classic colorway.

Close up view of a pair of blue and black Warby Parker glasses

Like the Classic Fable…

Tortoise always wins the race! Explore our wide selection and find your new favorite pair.

Where Does the Name “Tortoise Color” Come From?

As a color, “tortoise” stems from its original material, which, sadly, was the actual shells of tortoises and turtles. Tortoise shell had been used since ancient times around the world to craft a broad range of items—from veneers for furniture to intricate pieces of jewelry.

Thankfully, this is no longer in practice (the use of tortoise shell was banned in the 1970s). But there’s no denying that the pattern of a tortoise shell is an example of nature at its finest—a striking design in neutral tones that’s still well-loved for accessories today.

These days, a tortoiseshell pattern can be easily replicated with materials such as acetate so that we can achieve the look without harming these beloved creatures. (Thank goodness for that!) 

What Does a Tortoiseshell Pattern Look Like on Glasses Frames?

A tortoiseshell pattern will typically have a base color with flakes of color randomly strewn throughout. While tortoise colors often emulate those of traditional tortoise shells with browns, yellows, and ambers, this colorway has evolved over the years to incorporate all sorts of hues. Tortoise colors that incorporate blues and white (and even pinks) are becoming fast favorites.

Swatches of Warby Parker tortoise colors

Is Tortoiseshell Color in Style?

Yes, always! The tortoiseshell pattern has been favored for ages and is still a top pick today. There’s no seasonality behind tortoise colors, so you can rock them year-round. Plus, with such a wide range of patterns and colors available, anyone can find a tortoise option that suits their style.

Our Most Popular Tortoise Color Glasses Frames

Tortoise shell was a popular material for glasses for more than a century. But today, our glasses are made from acetate. You can find all sorts of different styles of frames in a tortoiseshell color. Check out some of our top tortoise color frames below.

Esme glasses in Sesame Tortoise


Sesame Tortoise

Shop Esme
Wright glasses in Tide Pool Tortoise


Tide Pool Tortoise

Shop Wright
Raina glasses in Confetti Tortoise


Confetti Tortoise

Shop Raina
Latrell glasses in Marzipan Tortoise


Marzipan Tortoise

Shop Latrell
Gillian glasses in Teal Tortoise


Teal Tortoise

Shop Gillian
Blaise glasses in Woodgrain Tortoise


Woodgrain Tortoise

Shop Blaise

Our Most Popular Tortoise Color Sunglasses Frames

Tortoise pattern sunglasses have also stood the test of time and can be found in a variety of styles. Here are just a few of our many favorites.

Esme sunglasses in Sesame Tortoise


Sesame Tortoise

Shop Esme
Fletcher sunglasses in Rye Tortoise


Rye Tortoise

Shop Fletcher
Aubrey sunglasses in Marzipan Tortoise


Marzipan Tortoise

Shop Aubrey
Newman sunglasses in Woodgrain Tortoise


Woodgrain Tortoise

Shop Newman
Hatcher sunglasses in oak barrel


Oak Barrel

Shop Hatcher
Sonia sunglasses in Oak Barrel


Oak Barrel

Shop Sonia

No Tortoises Were Harmed in the Creation of This Article

…Nor in the creation of our tortoise color frames. Maybe you’ve been eyeing tortoise colors for your next pair of glasses but aren’t used to rocking patterns on your frames. Well, we hope this deeper look at a timeless colorway will bring you out of your shell. 😉

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Each pair includes prescription lenses with scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and superhydrophobic treatments—and they block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

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