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The Ultimate Men’s Guide To Choosing Glasses

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re doing it through some kind of vision correction tool like glasses or contacts. Different sources will give you different numbers, but a sizable majority – 75%, in fact – of Americans need help seeing. This is now compounded by the prevalence of blue light-emitting screens we’re constantly in front of. Given that glasses have lots of potential as a style accessory, we created the ultimate men’s guide to choosing glasses.

How Our Glasses Guide Is Different

Many other blog articles on this subject deal with how different glasses silhouettes are sympathetic (or not) to different face shapes. This information isn’t necessarily invalid, but it omits an important consideration: your personality.

woman wearing glasses
Wendy Buchanan of Perceptions Eyewear

We’re delighted to have partnered with Wendy Buchanan, owner of Perceptions Eyewear in Toronto, Canada. A fellow member of AICI, her approach to helping her clients select eyewear is similar to how we help our clients build their wardrobes: consultative, completely personalized, and driven by experience and expertise. She is the creator of the Five Style Personalities we’ve previously written about and uses this unique approach when recommending eyewear.

Wendy was performing virtual eyewear consultations even before the pandemic hit, so she is uniquely well-positioned to help you over video chat. We strongly encourage you to contact her and start an eyewear conversation that will put a finishing touch on your look that’s commensurate with the wardrobe Henry A. Davidsen is building with you. Take a look at her YouTube channel for more.

A Brief History of Eyewear

young black man in browline glassesPrimitive glasses date all the way back to 12th-century China. The basic premise of using a convex lens to magnify things for the wearer goes back even further. The Book of Optics was published by Alhazen in the year 1021. In a nutshell, the human eye has always deteriorated, and we’ve been trying to rectify it for the last one thousand years.

lorgnette glasses with gold handle
A pair of lorgnette glasses.

The first pair of eyeglasses as we might recognize them showed up in the late 1200’s in Italy.  In the Middle Ages (1400-1600), primitive spectacles were sold from town to town. At the time, the lorgnette, spectacles held in front of the eyes via a handle, were popular for the socially privileged classes. The more money you had, the more embellished the handle would be.

China can claim the first pair of sunglasses, which used smoky quartz panels for lenses.

Specs Throughout The Decades

president theodore roosevelt wears glasses
TR wearing his “pince nez” glasses

It was around the turn of the century (ca. 1900) that two major events happened that catapulted glasses-wearing into mainstream style:

  1. “Arms” were added to glasses, allowing them to sit on the face easily and comfortably, and
  2. President Theodore Roosevelt allowed himself to be photographed in his glasses.

Since then, eyewear fashions have changed with the decades just as clothing has.  Let’s travel through the last half-decade:

1950’s: Eyewear for men was cool, hip, and youthful. Buddy Holly and James Dean, two icons of mid-20th century American youth culture, were often photographed wearing glasses. Buddy Holly’s look in particular is known for it’s heavy-framed, nerdy-cool glasses.

John Lennon in grannies glasses
John Lennon in his iconic circle frames.

1960’s: Bright colored glasses matched the decade’s bright clothing, and certain silhouettes got much more popular. Everyone can picture John Lennon wearing his “grannies” (small circular glasses), and Mick Jagger could rock a pair of aviators like no other.

1970’s: Clothing styles became more androgynous, and glasses followed suit. There was little variation between men’s and women’s styles, but boldness ruled the day.

1980’s: Big glasses went along with big hair.

1990’s: Circular glasses have a resurgence as part of the 1960’s/1970’s comeback. Rimless glasses also enjoy popularity, as do small-scale lenses.

2000’s: Tinted sunglasses in various colors are everywhere on the celebrities of the time: Brad Pitt, David Beckham, and countless boy bands.

How To Choose The Best Eyewear For Your Personality

asian man in round eyeglassesAs we mentioned earlier in this post, we are eschewing the frames-should-sync-with-your-face-shape wisdom, to some extent. While there’s value in this, we feel that your style personality should be the first point of decision-making when it comes to selecting eyewear. Why?

We often say that the most important part of any outfit isn’t the clothing or accessories you wear – it’s your face itself. This is our most expressive body part, and our eyes are the most expressive part of the face. Glasses occupy this all-important real estate, so it’s crucial that they’re in sync with the image you wish to project.

The more stylistically subdued among us will inevitably gravitate towards styles that are quiet and frame their face in a classic way. The bolder among us will gravitate toward bolder styles. These may not fit a given face shape in the classical sense, but they’ll project the desired image.

In short: your personality (and a little guidance) will lead you to the right eyewear. We’ll let Wendy herself take it from here!

Subtle Sophisticate

This eyewear personality is controlled and business-like. The refined combination of plastic and metal in this upscale crystal frame is timeless with a fashion-forward edge.

high end mens glasses frameIt mixes beautifully with the low contrast pattern in the jacket.

mens fashion eyeglassesTo add an element of fun, a quick change to the minimalist metal with a combination of colors creates understated interest.

Daring Dramatic

Leap Year Fun FactsThe Daring Dramatic eyewear personality is hard to ignore.

multicolored mens glasses framesTo turn some heads, you you can try a big, bold “geek chic” chunky plastic frame with asymmetrical color design and pattern.

round spectacles framesYou can also change it up with a striking, curved-edge round frame, which will make a fashion-forward style statement.

The combination of straight lines in metal with the soft round plastic is powerful and unique.

The Natural

man wearing pink custom shirtThe Natural eyewear personality is relaxed and approachable.

mens red glasses framesThe implied textures and mix of colors in this contemporary muted red plastic frame is in perfect harmony with this shirt.

wooden square glasses framesA clean, classic take on a similar idea can be found in this two-toned natural wood frame.

Inspired Artist

man wearing light pants and penny loafersThe Inspired Artist is unconventional and fun.

mens aviator glasses framesThe retro flat-top aviator in royal blue plays nicely with the subtle vintage flair of this outfit.

chunky square glasses frames for menThe traditional tortoiseshell frame says nothing traditional in this modern, full-on square designed frame with keyhole bridge. A perfect match to the shoes and detailed tailoring in the garments!

Elegant Charmer

An Elegant Charmer doesn’t talk loudly, but whispers instead. He’s refined and charming.

rimless frames for menThe shiny blue rimless frames accessorize beautifully with the sheen in this high-level corporate suit, creating a discreet, rich look.

red mens glasses framesThe red pair can be added as a stand-alone statement piece, adding a hint of color to coordinate with the tie in addition to some brushed silver for modernity.

How Glasses Affect Your Image

A pair of specs will change the image you put forth, so it’s worth it to invest time and energy in selecting the right pair. Below are some of the ways that glasses will impact your image:

  • Seem older
  • Appear more intelligent or studious
  • This is antiquated, but glasses were once associated with piousness. This was because for a long time only clergymen were literate, thus only they would need glasses.
  • Dirty or askew glasses represent someone who doesn’t have their act together or lacks attention to detail.
  • Peering over your glasses comes off as “looking down” on someone,
  • Taking glasses on and off is seen as a distraction. In the book True Style, G. Bruce Boyer lauds this practice for its ability to buy you a few seconds to think when you’re responding to someone.

Further Reading

We hope you enjoyed this guide. If you’re ready to align your eyewear with the image you and your custom wardrobe put forth, reach out to Wendy at wendy@perceptionseyewear.com. In the meantime, we’re here to outfit you in the clothes that project your most impactful image. Call us at 215-310-0219 or email at info@henrydavidsen.com to start a conversation.

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