Saturday, January 25, 2014

Do you see what I see?


According to a recent study the majority of Americans, 61% in fact, wear glasses or contact lenses or use reading glasses, up from 57% a decade ago. I fall into that category myself. I've worn glasses since my freshman year of high school and annually I find myself at the optometrist deciphering eye charts and determining which is clearer, 1...or 2...3..or 4?

Chart showing the ages and numbers of people wearing glasses

It's called a Phoropter. Seriously.

I wear contacts most of the time, because it's far more practical at my day job to not wear glasses. I'm myopic, which means I'm near-sighted. In fact, I'm REALLY nearsighted. I'm not quite to the point where I need bifocals yet, but I do often joke that if my glasses got any thicker I could see the future.

Kids can be merciless in their teasing when it comes to wearing glasses. Sadly, this leads kids to feel like outcasts for needing vision correction, and that leads to adults who are self-conscious and uptight and vain about wearing glasses, and hence may refuse to wear them even though they need them. I've known people so vain about being seen in glasses that they didn't even own glasses to wear after they took their contacts out for the night.

In my own experience, I've found that women tend to be more vain about wearing glasses than men, and that's a shame...women in glasses are sexy as all get out. But I digress.

Gentlemen, glasses are no longer just a functional-but-utilitarian thing to be endured. They can make a statement and set you apart from the crowd. Say, for example, you're a prairie-dog in a cubicle farm or an office where everyone is basically wearing the same type of business attire, your options to stand out are limited. You can wear a unique and stylish ties. You can break the dreadful cycle of the white dress shirt and branch out into colors with coordinating ties. And you can have some badass glasses. Dare I even say, Dapper Specs...
After awhile, these guys just become interchangeable with a tie being the only difference.

Cube Farms suck. Don't be the average prairie dog. Be YOU.

Don't be a clone clown in a Clone Clown Suit. Be YOU.
BE YOU. Be the Dapper Man in the Dapper Specs.

I recently got new glasses. I found a set of frames I really liked almost a year ago, but when it came time to go ahead and get them, the shop where I saw them didn't take the new insurance from my employer, nor did they even have those frames on hand any longer. Thus started a 2-week marathon search where I went to 10 different shops and tried on nearly a hundred different sets of frames. Nothing grabbed me the same way that original set did. I knew what I wanted but had to find a way to get it instead of settling for a reasonable facsimile. I widened my search of available retailers for said frames and found a place a hundred miles away that not only carried the brand but also took my insurance. And now I have what I wanted.

It's okay to be daring. Try on a variety of styles, but you absolutely have to take someone with you as a second opinion, preferably a lady friend who will give you an unvarnished opinion on what you're trying on. As with most things, what YOU think looks good on you may not necessarily be true in the eyes of the those who will see you. Remember how that wisdom held true in my article on smelling good? Trust The Wingman; he knoweth of that which He speaketh.

Some frames will look better on you (or worse) depending on your face shape. The frame shape should contrast with your face shape and the frame size should be in scale with your face size. I have a round face and find that rectangular lens shapes do best for me. I tried on a pair of round-frame glasses in a chic tortoise shell design knowing full-well that they'd look bad on me, and looked like a total imbecile in them. Round specs have that professor connotation and are a retro classic look but really, a narrower, thinner face works best for them. Actually, in my own opinion rectangular frames work for damn near everyone. But, as a general rule:

LONG FACE- Long faces are rectangular in shape with a strong chin and defined cheekbones.

Try: Large wide frames that extend beyond the temple with sides positioned in the middle of the frame, help add width and shorten the face.

Avoid: Small square styles that make your face appear longer.
round face.

ROUND FACE- Round faces generally have soft features and a rounded jaw line.

Try: Angular frames such as rectangles, will lengthen your face, add definition and draw attention to your cheekbones.

Avoid: Small round glasses or very large shapes that echo the shape of your face

OVAL FACE- Oval or heart shaped faces can be soft or angular, but are generally balanced in proportion.

Try: Rounded and square styles all suit this shape face. Slightly angular frames with a middle side position will add dynamic structure to your face.

Avoid: Heart shaped styles that echo the shape of the jaw.

SQUARE FACE- Square shaped faces have distinctive jawbones, full cheeks and an even jaw and chin line.

Try: Finer shallow frames such as ovals and soft rectangular shapes will help soften your features. Choose a frame with a high side position to add length to your face.

Avoid: Square styles and those that are wider than your face.

Apollo Sport computer glasses
FA206 by Factory 900

Flexon frames in Blue Suede Twilight

Chainring frames by Oakley

Junkyard frames by Oakley
Burberry 2105 in Dark Havana
Frederick frames by Miyagi

You have several possibilities for frame materials. Metal is traditional, and offers varied colors and shades, but for really experimental colors and funkyness go with acetate (ie: plastic). Some really exotic designers even go with wood in their frames. I tried on a really neat set of titanium wire frames (literally, the temples were thin wire) that were rimless, but they looked frighteningly fragile and I occasionally fall asleep in my glasses. Acetate plastic offers vivid colors and tortoise patterns, but depending on the frame design you'll likely need to skip actual glass frames and go with polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbs are lighter and lend themselves to anti-glare and scratch resistant coatings. I haven't had glass lenses in close to 20 years.

In the end I went with a frame called Voyeur from Marc Ecko, in a blue/black tortoise pattern. I almost got Helix model 104's in Gunmetal. It was a pretty close decision.

Helix 104's. I almost went with these.

Helix 103's

8361 frames by Manhattan

Ted Baker Eyeblast frames
Hay frames in ebony by Ted Baker. These exact frames are my glasses for the past 3 years

Many manufacturers have a virtual try-on feature on their websites where you can upload a photo of yourself and then select different frames for the program to superimpose on it. It allows you to do some of the leg-work at your own convenience before venturing out into the shops.

Mirage frames by NoeGo.
Vega 4 frames by Parasite
Plasma 1 frames by Parasite

Xion 2 frames by Parasite

French manufacturer Parasite (and their offshoot NoeGo has a lot of really wild frames.
The Lindberg Spirit frames I tried on. Dapper in a minimalistic way.

Jorn frames by Lindberg.

So take your time, look around, and explore. There are frames of every imaginable style and in every price range. There's no need to look like every other member of the herd. Stand out at the office, stand out at your local pub, stand out at the happening night spot or dance club. Glasses aren't the end of the world; quite the opposite. Contrary to what you may have in your head negative about glasses, they can be an essential (and dapper) fashion accessory in addition to being a functional tool. See, and be seen.

Would I steer you wrong? Never. Not the Wingman.

Who's got your back? I do.

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