Consider it the new lipstick indicator.
Still hesitant to open their wallets, middle-class shoppers are increasingly turning to sunglasses to upgrade their style for less, snatching up multiple pairs at higher prices to fill a space in their armoires that handbags and jewelry have long dominated.
Their growing interest in the category is evident in its sales. Revenue from women's sunglasses rose 9 percent in 2013, outpacing the 4 percent increase posted by women's apparel, according to Accessories Magazine and The NPD Group.
"Accessories are clearly outperforming apparel in every aspect," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group research firm.