Once upon a time, we all wanted to look like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business." It was the summer of '83 and the Ray-Ban Wayfarer style of sunglasses was everywhere.

Then came the summer of status-symbol sunglasses -- Vuarnets, in particular. We didn't just wear the name on the earpiece, we wore it on T-shirts, baseball caps and shorts. The cat's-eye style was the way to go -- with mirrored lens. We had friends bring back suitcases full of them from Paris, in assorted colors, because they were cheaper there.

There was a mini-trend started again in 1986 by Cruise when he wore Ray-Ban's aviator style in "Top Gun" -- the PR folks at Ray-Ban knew they had a good thing going. In fact, when Cruise's film "Cocktail" came out two years ago, they sent out press releases reminding us that Cruise was once again sporting the Ray-Ban look.

We now are choosing sunglasses that reflect our own personalities, our individual style, rather than someone else's. Some of us have several pairs, to match our different moods. Or maybe we choose them to wear with a particular outfit, like a proper accessory.

It's easy to forget that sunglasses can actually have a utilitarian purpose.