Anyone who grew up wearing glasses and being stigmatized as a nerd hearing derisive “hey, four eyes” remarks is probably feeling pretty vindicated these days. Glasses are now a must-have fashion accessory.
Don’t take our word for it. Just cruise the Internet. You can browse “23 Pictures That Prove Glasses Make Guys Look Obscenely Hot” or see “21 Celebrities Who Prove Glasses Make Women Look Super Hot.”
When did glasses become cool?
Well, according to the curator of the British Optical Association Museum at The College of Optometrists, you don’t have to look any further than a certain precocious wizard.
“The Harry Potter craze sent opticians running to their back storerooms to find anything black and round when children suddenly started to want to wear glasses, whether they needed them or not,” Neil Handley says in a lecture about the changing social norms of eyewear.
Fast-forward nearly 20 years and all those grade school kids are now into chic hipster frames that are more Prada than Potter. The fashion industry offers another answer to the question of when glasses became cool. The industry, as pointed out in this Telegraph article, has undoubtedly helped create a buzz about spectacles. They’ve been featured on catwalks, and Prada and Chanel’s eyewear campaigns, starring Gemma Ward and Kristen Stewart respectively, have caught the public’s attention.
Here’s an interesting notion you may not have thought of. Making a fashion statement with glasses may have some unintended consequences, according to an article titled, “The Hidden Psychology of Wearing Glasses.”
“When you see a wearer of glasses walk into a room, superficial judgments begin formulating,” the article says. “Are they fashionable? Are they conservative or flamboyant? Are they clean, or do they let grease smudge their lenses? Whatever communication takes place is filtered through these impressions. And while those gut-checks are surface level, there are also more deep-seated evaluations occurring. For example: Are they trustworthy?”
Hip men and women looking for the latest look in eyewear often turn to, surprise, the Internet to do their shopping. While online shopping works for some products, eye care specialists say it’s not the best idea if you are looking for stylish vision correction.
“Deciding what frame best suits your prescription can be tricky,” says the blog of Outlook Eyecare, a Hamilton, New Jersey practice that offers eyeglasses through its brick-and-mortar Optical Shop. “An optician takes many considerations into account when helping you choose the best frame for you. The right frame consists of more than just what looks good. Just as one size frame does not fit all faces, one type of frame does not work for all prescriptions.”
That makes sense, although there is an eyewear company called Warby Parker that offers a chance to try out 5 different frames for a week for free. After 5 days, you can choose to buy any of the pairs and send the others back. Users say the popular service is a good way to test-drive glasses for both style and function.
The chic factor of eyeglasses can even lead to some strange behavior. An actor (but not celebrity) quoted in the “Hidden Psychology…” article mentioned above chose to have LASIK surgery to correct her vision. But she says it started affecting getting acting jobs.
“The large hip frames allowed me to either stand out or give myself a specific ‘look,'” she says. “So I had an eye doctor turn a pair to clear plastic so I can wear them to auditions. It’s a look that is in right now.”
Apparently glasses are now so fashionable that even those who don’t need them are heading to the eye doctor’s office.