Six out of ten people wear glasses or contact lenses. Us bespectacled types wear them more or less everyday, so getting a nice pair is important. They are such a central part of your appearance, and may be the thing that gets noticed first. It is easy to look dated, frumpy, geeky or overpowered, or to choose a pair in a colour that will constantly fight with your features. A bit of nightmare.
I remember age about 11 going to an optician in Rochdale, where a funny man in a white jacket picked a airforce blue plastic ones for me. I didn’t have the confidence to ask to try on a range of styles.
I felt awful in them. I sat at the front rather than put them on. I went to the pictures with boys and missed the entire point. As a student I bought the “NHS specs” (a low-cost vintage range, when vintage meant old stock) – first some transparent blue ones, then colourless ones, then metal with a tortoiseshell plastic coating. In my late 20s I went for contact lenses which I wore until I reached my 50s. By then I was fed up with the fluids, the itching and the occasional disaster of hunting for lost ones in the sub-furniture fluff layer. By then I realised there were some nice spectacle styles and colours available. These days I quite like wearing glasses which can give character, colour and interest to the face.
Here is someone who looks gorgeous in her glasses. Kate Dodsworth, a senior Housing Association Director, currently leads a commission on diversity for the Chartered Institute of Housing. Kate has a rectangular face and her glasses are rectangular too. They provide a horizontal line across the middle her face and balance its length beautifully. Kate has coloured her dark brown hair in a harmonious deep purpley red, which emphasises her lovely bright green eyes. By choosing spectacles that echo her hair shade the whole look works, and Kate looks healthy, youthful and approachable.
If you are thinking of buying glasses you will want to take two main questions into account – the shape and colour of the frames.
Determining face shape and characteristics
The actual shape of your face can be determined by looking at a photograph or by drawing around the outline of your face on the mirror. While a number of websites distinguish between oval, rectangular, heart etc, the main thing is to determine if your face is mainly curved, or rather angular. Kate has an angular look with a straight nose, eyes and brows, and suits her angular hair style.
A curved face, on the other hand, is one with rounder eyes, soft cheeks, a rounder nose and fuller mouth. Of course many of us have a combination of characteristics. My face shape is oval, and my mouth, nose and eyes are fairly straight. I have chosen glasses that are fairly square but have a little bit of roundness too. Purple (a cool colour) suits my natural blue-toned colouring.
So here are the guidelines
- wear glasses that your face shape and facial characteristics (rather than square face/round glasses as traditionally recommended)
- a combination of curves and angles means you can combine the shapes of your glasses
- your eye should sit in the middle of the lens
- your eyebrows should be revealed not covered up by the upper line of the frame
- the lower part of the frame should not touch your face
- scale is important – don’t wear a heavy frame unless you are larger
Choosing the right frame colour
I have covered colour before. Basically you could choose frames in the metal colour that best suits you (gold or silver), or plastic frames in any of your colours. Andrew, above, has warm colouring with a light secondary direction. He would look nice in yellowy-brown or light tortoiseshell frames, or gold. Meddie, with deep colouring, looks great in her purple frames. Equally she could wear silver, or if she wanted a slightly more modern look she could choose black or dark brown.
Shopping for Specs
However choosing great glasses can be really hard work. You might try
- going to a supplier with a large range, or a specific approach you like (eg vintage frames)
- going with a clear idea of what you are looking for based on your face shape and colour direction
- taking a competent and stylish friend with you
- putting on your shortlisted selection, taking photographs from the front and side and studying carefully before purchase
- using an online company that provides four pairs to try on at home such as Glasses Direct. Then take your time in seeing how you look in them
- wearing your contacts when looking at yourself in glasses with clear plastic lenses
- the photography machine that some shops still have
- asking the opinion of well-trained sensible assistants who give unbiased advice, but it is hard to know who to trust
- the cheapest in-house range as they are not essentially different to the expensive “designer” glasses