Seeing glasses through a new lens

By Kristyn Schiavone, Tribune Content Agency

I've been wearing glasses since first grade, and ever since first grade, I've thought glasses were the pits.

I could never see at the pool. Every time we had a tornado drill, the duck and tuck caused my lenses to fog so much that for a good five minutes after we untucked I couldn't see a thing. Once at a dance recital, they flew off in the middle of a pirouette. (Note: This last one was probably my fault. I was an aggressive turner. Go big or go home, as they say.)

My eyesight was becoming too poor to go without my glasses in these instances, so in fifth grade I got my first pair of contacts and I've never looked back -- until recent years, when glasses became so cool that people literally started wearing faux frames with no lenses. I think at one point you could buy them at J.Crew.

So if you are a glasses wearer, rejoice. If you are a glasses wearer who conveniently skipped the full decades during which being a nerd was not considered a fashion statement, rejoice even more. Today, your frames are part of your outfit.

I'm not saying you need several pairs of glasses to go with your wardrobe. Glasses are still, at their most basic, a medical necessity for many, myself included. I'm just saying that if you choose wisely, your frames can help sculpt your overall "look."

In fact, if you're not so style-conscious, start with the frames that suit you best, and perhaps they'll give you some insight into your own fashion sense.

Here are some tips I've picked up after 20-odd years of selecting frames. These can also apply if you're a glasses wannabe, but just remember not to wear them in athletic situations. That's the one time when we true dorks would be loathe to wear ours. We'll take Rec Specs all day long.

1. Don't skimp.

Right, so, I write a budget-friendly fashion column. But the reality is this: they go on your face, the first thing everyone sees. You buy one pair a year, tops. And if you have great vision insurance, you're hopefully getting a significant reduction on the frames and lenses.

2. Consider your face shape.

There's a whole science around selecting the shape of your frames, and it has to do with your face shape. You would have to Google all the exact specifications, but for example, I know that square frames work best with my very round face and large cheeks. It's not all that difficult to figure out, but it can make a difference.

3. Choose statement makers that are suitable for everyday wear.

You probably don't want that plastic, light purple pair with the round frames. You'll be sick of them by day 10 when they are intended to last you a while. Take it from a former light purple glasses wearer, albeit with wire frames, that these are not the long-lasting choices. It's sort of like choosing the pink cell phone, which I also did. I do actually have a friend who looks fantastic in her dark purple frames, but she has an alternate pair or two for a different look.

However, you also shouldn't feel like a pair of totally boring frames is the best bet. Your glasses can have some personality and still be suitable for everyday wear. Take the pictured styles from Warby Parker -- some are whimsically shaped, others have an interesting color gradient, but they are all fairly neutral. They can be for work and weekend, depending on your outfit.

4. Think of how they fit into your wardrobe.

As my repeat readers probably know, I wear much more black than brown. Therefore, I typically choose black or tortoise shell frames because they're easily integrated into my wardrobe. Of course, your glasses do not have to match every ensemble, but you'll find yourself caring about that more than you thought you would.

5. Don't be afraid of glasses that look like glasses.

Previously, trends have steered toward the discreet, with small, even sometimes frameless glasses. The Warby Parker looks all encourage you to embrace the four-eyed look.

6. Adjust your makeup accordingly.

If you are a new glasses wearer, or a veteran who normally wears contacts but wants to test-drive her new frames, your makeup routine will be slightly different. A heavy eye shadow look is unnecessary, as it will be mostly covered by your frames. Choose a nude eye shadow, thin black or brown eyeliner, and finish it off with your usual blush and lip color. Glasses lend themselves to a statement lip, I think, if you're looking for an excuse to try bright pink lipstick.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)