Liskula Cohen discusses what men and women should look for when buying an accessory many of us take for granted – our eyeglasses.
Historically, eyeglasses have often been regarded as a fashion faux pas. My co-author for this article, Matthew Rozsa, recalls having to wear them his entire life – and can attest from firsthand experience that his thick-lenses and bulky frames played a major role in the “nerd” persona that he assumed through much of his early childhood (for more on that, see Point #2).
On the other hand, I didn’t discover that I needed eyeglasses until shortly after my fortieth birthday. I had just received an iPhone and fell in love with its sleek and beautiful design…. but damn it, the font was soooo small! After a day or two I found myself having mild dizzy spells and eye strain, so I figured out how to increase the font size and went back to sending and receiving texts with ease. Then one day a few of my friends noticed my larger font. They all made jokes about me getting older. Was my vision changing now that I hit the ripe old age of forty? After speaking to an optometrist I learned that most people’s vision starts to decline a wee bit around that time, and he diagnosed me with what is known in the optical world as Presbyopia, a hardening of the lens inside your eye that makes it a little harder to focus on small things.
So while my friends were having a laugh at me, I took comfort in knowing that they too will have to enlarge their fonts in a little while. Now that I’ve developed a career selling eyewear online, I’ve learned some tips for those of us who want to look good and feel good as our bodies force us to wear eyeglasses:
- Find a shape and color that compliments your face and your skin tone.
The first thing you have to do is figure out what shape looks best on you. I knew I had an oval face shape, so I could wear many different frames shapes. Similarly, the frame color is very important; most people just get black or tortoise shell, but personally I wanted something a bit more funky. The basic rules of thumb are if you have olive, bronze or have a golden color to your skin, you are considered a “warm complexion” and you should avoid pastel colors, which will wash out your gorgeous skin; a frame with browns, greens and tortoise will look great on you. If you have a “cool complexion” – that is, with pink or blue undertones in your skin – you will look great in black, blue, gray, silver and purple frames.
- Men can be fashionable too.
As I explain on my website, men’s eyeglasses have evolved considerably over the years. For a while there were only three styles for men (aviator, wayfarer, and nerdy) because the prevailing cultural assumption was that male eyeglasses were tools, not accessories. Over time people realized that this was ridiculous, since men wear their glasses just as often as women – and as such will also have their overall look defined by their eyewear. There are plenty of options to consider: Big frames are particularly popular right now for men who want to look chic, silver or chrome tiny square frames give off a scholarly look, oversized glasses come across as hipster, and matching round or oval tortoise shell glasses with pullovers and polos perfectly completes a preppy ensemble.
- Your glasses won’t last forever, so find frames that are comfortable and affordable.
Being a model for 23 years at the time of my first prescription eyeglass purchase, I knew that this mild loss of vision had a silver lining – now I had a new accessory that I MUST buy. Even so, I did not want to spend $500 on a pair of glasses that I knew would probably need to be replaced in a year or so, even if only to keep up with fashion and stay on trend. In the fashion industry we have this equation for large purchases known as CPW “cost per wear.” I can easily justify a Gucci purse and break it down to costing less than a dollar per wear, considering how long you will own it and the manufacturer’s quality. I could not justify the same for a pair of eyeglasses. They are small, easy to lose and even easier to break, which basically makes them a liability.
Similarly, nobody wants to wear heavy frames, and some people have the added worry that their lenses will be too heavy. Even if you like how they look, the weight can be uncomfortable and even taxing on your ears and face. Although it may be annoying, you need to make sure when you purchase glasses that you’re wearing something which you can imagine yourself enjoying wearing for large portions of your day.
- Make sure you are ethically as well as physically comfortable.
When I first realized I needed glasses, the easiest thing I could have done was just grab a pair of designer label frames. That said, I knew a little bit about how they are made, and where, and that did not sit well with me. I didn’t want to buy anything that was made in China, where worker exploitation is rampant, and that pretty much cut my choices down to only a handful of famous fashion designers and a cool selection of frames that didn’t have a famous designer’s name on them but still had the style and quality. Since they were made in America or Europe and were either handcrafted or made in small quantities, these options sounded great to me, I didn’t want to have the same glasses as everyone else anyway.
Initially when I tried shopping online, I found it was more of the same. Many of the more popular sites were owned by the same companies that own the retail chain stores (they just have different names), and furthermore, some of those companies even own the frame companies or at least the licensing of those major brands, or ALL of the frames were made in China! With my own site, I made sure to source all of the frames myself, with 95% of them being manufactured in Europe (the one Chinese manufacturer was selected because it is a completely eco-friendly manufacturer – with a zero carbon footprint!
The sheer quantity of choices involved in choosing a new pair of glasses may seem overwhelming – it can be a fun, even exhilarating opportunity to redefine your personal fashion sense. There is no reason why you can’t improve your sight and look great while doing it.
Readers of this article will get a 10% discount until the end of October (Just use the coupon code: 10%offmyglasses).