The tyranny of eyeglass fashion

It’s been about a year and a half since I experienced the special combination of razors and lasers and sedatives and painkillers that made up the Lasik experience, and it’s really good not having to wear glasses any more.

It’s not a hugely life-changing thing, but rather its benefits are made up of lots of little things – not getting fogged up in humid weather, not having raindrops obscure my vision, being able to lie on my side on the couch and watch DVDs, and not being pressured by the ever-changing world of eyeglass fashions.

Cos spectacles seem to have a faster fashion half-life than clothing does. I’m guessing it’s because that while clothing tends to wear out and is cheaper to replace, spectacles last longer and cost more, so get replaced less often.

But even though a pair of glasses bought 10 years ago might work just as well as they did back then, it doesn’t mean they will be any less fashionable than some late ’90s-style clothing ensemble involving cargo pants, a backpack handbag and a pashmina.

I know of a guy who wore the same pair of glasses for about 10 years, all of which were lean student years. Over that period he gradually became known as “the guy with the big glasses”. He finally upgraded to a pair of fashionably slim frames, but I wonder if in 10 years he’ll have become “the guy with the narrow glasses”.

Another example is “Goldstein“, the New York banker star of the ASB Bank ads. He’s been in the ads since 2000, and is usually dressed in a business suit and sports a pair of those big round glasses that were only fashionable in the ’90s.

Here’s his look, as seen in the window of the Mt Eden ASB:

Goldstein's old glasses

He’s probably being kept in the same tired old specs from 2000 because updating his look would cause a ruckus amongst the telly-viewing public and detract from the promotion of ASB’s banking services.

But in the real world, Goldstein would have visited his optometrist at some point in the past seven years, had his vision tested, and decided that as well as getting new lenses, he ought to get some new frames as well – probably something with narrow black rectangular frames.

And when I look at the pair of glasses, which served me from 2000 to 2005, they now look gigantic. When I bought them, I remember how tiny they seemed. They were Gucci and they cost over $300 and I did not want to give them up until I absolutely had to.

But it appears that the interweb may have a solution for people financially caught in an optical timewarp. Websites like 39 Dollar let you buy prescription glasses online for cheap. You need to get your prescription details from your optometrist, but once you have that you can get some relatively cheap cool frames, to finally drag your facial fashion look into the new millennium. The Glassy Eyes blog has lots of good consumer information and reviews for buying prescription glasses online.

Or you can keep wearing your old specs until they come back into fashion again.

9 thoughts on “The tyranny of eyeglass fashion”

  1. I think there are some ASB ads out there in which Goldstein is featured wearing a narrower pair of frames, but the ones in which he has the big round glasses seem to have returned.

    I’ve recently been contemplating my frames, which I bought at the beginning of 2006. They are narrow, but are they narrow enough? At the same time, I’m aware that to go narrow would be to place myself directly in the path of changes in fashion, as you describe for the student above.

    Señor Mojito has worn his Goldstein-shaped frames for a very long time indeed; whence come the Harry Potter comparisons he attracts. (I think it’s this kind of Harry Potter, but I admit bias.)

  2. It sounds like you have eyeglass loss syndrome. I suggest that you get plain glass but in your favourite pair of frames, and wear them around the house when the pain is at its worst…

  3. I love my glasses, but I hate picking out new frames. When I look at photos from the early nineties, the ones I was wearing then were freaking enormous. Now I just try to pick things as plain and untrendy as possible, which means dodging those tiny rectangular frames because man are they going to date fast.

    But y’know, if I were stinking filthy rich I’d have about twenty pairs so I could match them with my outfits.

  4. I’ don’t know about having matching goggles, Ghet. Too Elton John, or Alice Worsely. Trelise Cooper did have some leopard-print ones I thought were rather cool, though.

  5. harvestbird: I like your frames. They’re not too narrow at all. I reckon you’ll get a good few years fashionable wear out of them. The worst narrow is the type sported by middle-aged men who wear black skivvies and seem to also wear glasses that are about 1cm high. (Also, WordPress thought you were spam, but I’ve since taught it a lesson.)

    Jon: I thought about doing that, by my favourite pair broke 🙁

    As for matching glasses, there is a risk of Elton Johnness, but I reckon it would be nice to have a pair of 1950s glasses with diamantes in the corner (for special occasions), a pair of thick, rectangular art wank glasses, some round granny specs and maybe a pair of pince-nez at one’s disposal for times when fashion demands it.

  6. Hehe I write for a living so I got glasses to lend gravitas and get paid more…it worked, silly peoples.
    As long as you pour love into what you got, you never really want for anything else, in my experience.

  7. Wow, I never considered that the specs might be getting me work.

    And yeah, I meant not so much ‘the same colour as my outfits’ as ‘co-ordinating with’. There are definitely leopard-print glasses occasions.

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