Glasses Inspiration


A collage of dark frames inspiration–my favorites are Cate Blanchett’s blue frames (great shape & color). Left to right, top to bottom: Alexa Chung, Amanda Peet, Kirsten Dunst, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Lisa Loeb, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld.

I’m near-sighted, and although I’ve worn contacts in the past, dry eyes forced me back into glasses (blame it on the blogging). Lucky for me, then, that the fashion crowd say geek glasses are “in,” with frames appearing on recent Carmen Marc Valvo, Luella, & Michael Kors runways.

Reasons for the trend vary. Some say glasses have a retro appeal, a throwback to the eras of Mad Men and the ever-popular 80s (Cazals, anyone?). Others suggest the rise of the nerd class has made geek chic (aka the Seth Cohen factor). More cynical people will also note that eye wear companies have recently ratcheted up their advertising, glamming it up with supermodels and high-profile ad campaigns. Practicality, though, may be the biggest driving force: as people spend more and more time online, they develop eye problems (like me with dry eye) and have to wear frames.


Models (and Rosario Dawson) in glasses, from a Fashion Spot thread. My favorites are the gigantic white frames
on Miranda Kerr.
Sources/more inspiration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

But how will a trend stand up to the cultural bias against specs? Glasses can turn Superman into Clark Kent, make Betty Ugly, and are the
only thing keeping Rachael Leigh Cook from being all that. Conversely, any old school librarian can become a vixen simply by removing her glasses and ruffling her hair. Charles Taylor wrote in Salon of the damage inflicted by Dorothy Parker’s line “Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses,” adding:

I speak from some experience, as a man who has made passes at several girls who wore glasses and even wound up marrying one. Glasses, like small breasts, seem to be one of those things that women automatically assume men find unattractive. (Link)

Which, you know, makes sense, since every rom-com makeover ever involves the girl getting a haircut and contacts. Add to that the stereotype of the bespectacled & sexless eccentric (Edith Head, Edna Mode, Velma), and it’s no wonder some women wince their way through life, more afraid of glasses than not being able to see.


Amanda on MTV’s The Paper straddles the line between kooky and cute.

That’s why, even though glasses inspiration posts like this one often boil down to “glasses look pretty on pretty people,” I find them helpful; they’re evidence that glasses do not singlehandedly destroy a woman’s sex appeal, and can even augment it (see Kiki Dunst at top).

Certainly, many women find men in glasses rather sexy. Maybe because glasses suggest intelligence & sensitivity (however nonexistent)? But thinking it through, that’s probably why glasses are considered less appealing on women; intelligence and sensitivity aren’t traditional sex kitten qualities. Sigh.


Midnight cotton blazer with chiffon underlay, $122.00 at YesStyle. I’ve convinced myself that large white glasses are an awesome idea. They’re mod and a bit jokey, and you never see them on anyone (maybe you’re thinking “and there’s a reason for that”). I think they look fresh.

Another thing to consider: glasses have a mask-like ability to hide and change a person’s face; unlike masks, however, glasses are everyday attire. You wear a black Zorro mask in public, people gawk and point; you wear thick black frames, to virtually the same effect, and
no one bats an eye. Plus, according to Newsday, a “modified cat’s-eyes turned up slightly at the ends[…]gives a bit of a face-lift.” Nice.

Can’t think of a proper segue, but no glasses post would be complete without a reference to Parisian It Girl and art student Louise:


Sources/more photos & commentary: Princesse Audrey, Garance Dore, Café Mode, the Clothes Horse.

Of course, Louise is no random student–her mother, Sylvie Ebel, is the Executive Director of the Institut Français de la Mode. But she is beautiful and creative with her look; I particularly like the side-swept bangs, top braid, and the cat eye makeup in the far right photo. Louise also just started her own blog, with some daily outfits and musings in French.

Reneeglasses_3Finally, here’s a teeny-tiny picture of me & my glasses. It’s from a local newspaper story (hence the teeny-ness and the fact that I’m posting one at all). It’s not my favorite picture, but you get the idea: dark plastic frames all the way.


  1. says

    Thanks for the glasses inspiration. These are all terrific fun. I like the “Annie Hall” feel of many of these and love the white frames.

  2. E says

    I am in dire need of new glasses, and I was thinking about going for that style. However, I wear lots of traditional woolen stuff and tweed. Think tartan, herringbone, etc. And considering that I *am* a graduate student in letters… I am afraid that adding the geeky glasses might be a tad too much. Should I still go for it?

  3. says

    I’ve always wanted to see a movie where the popular/sexy/sophisticated girl really fancies the nerdy guy, but thinks he’ll never be attracted to someone like her. Then she tries to put on the glasses/dress the part because she thinks he’ll find it attractive.
    Now that I think about it, isn’t there a similar thread running through a portion of Clueless with Cher’s character and her (stepbrother)…. and Seth/Summer on the O.C.?
    Anyway, it’d be a good central plot.

  4. says

    Samsara: Yay, glad you like them! I hadn’t thought of Annie Hall, but that’s another good example.
    E: Depends on what you’re comfortable with. I personally like full-on geek chic, but it might be nice to break it up with a edgy haircut or bold lipstick (like Louise). Or maybe spice up the preppy basics with some bold prints and jewel-toned accessories.
    Rosaline: Yeah, I remember something like that at the end of Clueless! Although I’d totally prefer it if a Velma/Daria-type got the popular/sexy/sophisticated guy–that would be awesome.

  5. E says

    Betty: I suppose I should look for something to break the monotony of a full blown ‘geek-chic’, yes. I am not sure what however. I have worn the angled bob (shorter at the nape, longer in the front) from age 19 to 22… back before it was ubiquitous. And now, you see, for the first time in my life, my hair is long! I am in the process of experimenting (how to care for it, how to style it, etc). I am just not ready to go back to a shorter, edgier cut. However, long hair is everything by edgy, and with the fringe that I have, it does not exactly break the ‘geek-chic’ mold. Rats.
    Well, there is always the lipstick. Hard to find a colour that fits when one has bright red hair, though!

  6. says

    This was a great post! Thanks for the links to the glasses articles… As a glasses/contacts wearer myself, the only setback I’ve had with glasses is that they constantly slide down my nose. I’m inspired to find good ones now, though. I’m glad that nerd glasses (and culture) is stylish now.

  7. says

    Betty thank you sooo much for this amazing post on glasses inspiration! I recently begin to suffer from dry eye syndrome as well due to 8 plus hours a day in front of a computer. I am unable to wear my contacts which at first devastated me to the point where you would think I grew a third arm or something. I love how you displayed the different styles and discussed the stigma. I’ve worn glasses since I was 3 years old and couldn’t wait to get into contacts at the age of 14. Now that I’m back in specs I have begun to embrace the glasses. I look at it more as an accessory not a necessity. For the record men in glasses are very sexy I think it represents power, confidence and style. All these characteristics most definitely can be transposed to women in glasses as well! I found this awesome site you should check out:
    the pretty girls with nerdy glasses appreciation society
    ♥ Furoni
    P.S. I love the blog I will be reading 😉

  8. says

    Furoni: I felt the same way when I started wearing glasses again (also because of dry eye). It was like I was regressing back to my awkward phase in middle school! Not fun.
    Also love the nerdy glasses appreciation society link, it’s perfect.


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