Vintage shapes frame eyes, pick up color
A million years ago — O.K., it was the seventh grade — I was obsessed with eyeglasses and willed the universe to give me a slight prescription so I could get a pair. My desire was for the sake of fashion.
The first pair had a wire frame and round lenses. And you know what? I wouldn’t be caught dead in them today.
Eyewear evolves just as we do. To reflect my life as a fashion writer, I most recently bought a funky pair of sleek, green LaFonts with squarish lenses, criss-cross detailing on the arms and a metallic green streak across the top of the frame.
Your glasses tell a story about who you are today.
That presents a daunting task when it comes time to find the perfect frame that fits you and your budget.
There’s hope. The beauty of 2010 is that eyewear frames are more than black and tortoise options.
Lines such as Salt, Tom Ford, Gucci and LaFont offer frames in colors such as red, blue, gold and green.
Then there is vintage eyewear, which came into play more than a year ago, evoking midcentury design themes from the 1940s and ’50s as well as the more recent retro styles of the 1960s and ’70s.
“It is at an all-time high,” said James J. Spina, editor in chief of industry magazine 20/20. “It’s huge. It’s hot.”
Brands Oliver Peoples, Converse, Lucky Brand and Paul Smith offer fine retro selections.
Spina used Nike as an example. This fall, the brand, which didn’t offer optical frames in the 1960s, will release a vintage optical collection that will appear to have been inspired by Nike’s archives, he said.
Unlike the past decade, new optical frames are being designed with larger lenses, which follows the trend in sunglasses from makers such as Ray-Ban, Tory Burch, John Varvatos, Diane von Furstenberg and Madonna’s new MDG line with Dolce & Gabbana.
“There’s definitely a revival of retro, and I think it will always be strong in the Austin market,” said John Cavanaugh, a licensed optician at Stars in Your Eyes (714 Congress Ave. 477-9000; 2116 Hancock Drive. 3710144, www.starsinyoureyes.com). “Trends do evolve, and eventually everything old is new again.”
In recent weeks, I browsed the shelves at Gene Rogers Optical (2700 W. Anderson Lane. 451-7316), Santa Fe Optical (various Austin locations, including 1601 W. 38th St. 451-1213, www.santafe optical.com), Eclectic Eyewear (2510 Guadalupe St. 4725881, www.eclecticeyewear.biz) and other Austin shops.
Some years you look for glasses and you score, as I did with my all-time favorite frames, a pair of simple black Guccis that pop my eyes. Or you lose, as was the case when I opted for frames from Ogi Eyewear that always slid down my nose despite numerous adjustments. Big mistake, and I next opted for a new version of the Guccis.
“It’s not like you’re buying a T-shirt you wear every two weeks,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s such a part of you for that period of time. It’s an expensive mistake if you make a mistake.”
Customers have asked him for styles reminiscent of glasses worn by Buddy Holly and Malcolm X. Modern newsmakers such as Sarah Palin, whose frames were a hit, and celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and Tina Fey, have influence, too.
Cavanaugh said, “I have people who will come in and say, ‘I want Sarah Palin’s glasses,’ and people come in and say, ‘I don’t want Sarah Palin’s frame.’ Hers made such a strong statement.”
The trick to finding the perfect frame is to know your face and get your prescription. Whether you go to a home-grown optical store or national store, I say treat shopping for glasses like car shopping. Try on different frames, take photos of yourself, or come back to the store later.
An eye prescription will determine what frames will work (the stronger the prescription, the smaller the frame should be to avoid the Coke-bottle effect), and then your face comes into play. The rule is to contrast your face shape. On a long face, opt for a shallow rectangular frame. A round face? Try an angular shape. An oval face is easy to fit.
Trying to determine your face shape? There’s online help such as Houston-based Frames Direct, which has an Austin office. In addition to selling frames, the website (www.framesdirect.com) offers face shape descriptions as well as celebrity examples for the Us Weekly-challenged — Sarah Jessica Parker (oblong), Cameron Diaz (round), Madonna (diamond), Halle Berry (heart), Keith Urban (triangle), Beyoncé (oval) and Sandra Bullock (square) – and what options might work for each shape.
“Customers know what they want,” said Ashley Kleine, office manager at Optique Eyewear (360 Nueces St. 472-3937, www.optique austin.com). “Sometimes what they think they want doesn’t look great on their face.”
The right eyewear fit can give someone a dose of sex appeal, geek chic or attitude. (Cavanaugh said he has worked with lawyers looking for attitude glasses to wear simply for the courtroom. “People are warming up to the fact that it’s more than vision correction,” he said.)
Like me, Will Lucas knows the beauty and mystique of glasses. He is near-sighted and owns a pair of primary glasses and two pair of prescription sunglasses. He has worn five pairs of glasses in the past decade, including his first pair which were Polo Ralph Lauren and a metal frame. (“They were funky,” said the 31-year-old Austin photographer. “I would never wear them again.”)
He wants to move on from the black, thick-plasticframed Prada glasses he bought four years ago while living in Columbus, Ohio.
“I’m ready for a change,” Lucas said. “I get a lot of compliments. People say, ‘Why don’t you get Lasik,’ but I say, ‘No.’ I like my glasses. I’ve casually looked here and there. I want to stick with the black frame but something maybe rounder. I’ve seen some people wearing some really cool Dolce & Gabbana glasses. I think mine give me that creative look. Especially as a photographer, clients expect me to be stylish.”
Lucas told me he’s hoping to expand on his career as a photographer, and wants to take photos of bands, hipsters, DJs and what he called “sexy people.”
“Preferably if they are wearing glasses,” Lucas said. “We glasses people have to stick together.”
In or out of character as Liz Lemon from ‘ 0 Rock,’ Tina Fey is among celebrities whose eyewear wields influence.
conVerse Shapes inspired by mid-20th-century looks are hotter than ever, and the trend for large lenses in sunglasses is coming to optical eyewear. Top: John Varvatos Brown Horn, $220. Center: Lucky Brand Demo, $64. Bottom: Converse Heritage Iconic, $ 8.92.