I Am Constantly Making A Spectacle Of Myself

On the day that part of the world may see a solar eclipse (not here in the ‘burbs – there is a heavy blanket of cloud unfortunately) I am thinking about the role of glasses in my life. I have worn specs since I realised I could no longer see the blackboard in maths class when I was about 15 and, while I dabbled with contact lenses in my late teens, I apparently have very dry eyes, so they were never going to work. I am a specs wearer for life then, so need to make the most of it.

In the same way I would never chose to wear just one pair of shoes (although I have been inseparable this last fortnight from my Vagabond Dioons Vagabond http://www.office.co.uk/view/product/office_catalog/2,10/1294300347 but I digress !) I have amassed a small collection of glasses (or ‘eyewear’ as it is known in the fashion world) so I can change them to suit my mood and outfit. Now I am in my 50s, I have got the hang of what suits me; I have learnt that glasses where the person looking at your face can’t see the tops of your eyes are not worth having. Your face shape, hair style, hair colour and eyebrow shape all play a part in what suits the individual. It is worth playing around and using the technology some opticians now have whereby you can have a photo taken in the shop and you can see what each pair you try on looks like (invaluable if, like me, you are as blind as a bat). I look truly dreadful in rectangular frames, but rather favour the cat’s eye style which happily is not too difficult to find.

The earliest written record of magnification dates back to the 1st century AD, when Seneca the Younger, a tutor of Emperor Nero of Rome, wrote: “Letters, however small and indistinct, are seen enlarged and more clearly through a globe or glass filled with water”. Nero (reigned 54–68 AD) is also said to have watched the gladiatorial games using an emerald as a corrective lens. The first eyeglasses were made in Italy at about 1286, and it has been said that Marco Polo reported seeing many pairs of glasses in China as early as 1275.


1805 glasses

French Empire gilt scissors glasses c. 1805 (with one lens missing)

Here in the UK the NHS still offers free eye tests to some groups of people and between about 1948 and 1985 there was a range of free frames as well; although there was often a negative social stigma to wearing the state-subsidised specs, many of the frames are ironically very fashionable now, in a retro-chic way.

NHS frames

I would happily wear these for example (love the colour!):

NHS childrens' frames

Geek Chic has also added to the popularity of glasses wearing, with non-prescription frames now available purely as a fashion accessory. Google ‘fake glasses for kids’ and prepare to be amazed. For adults, you only have to look as far as ASOS. It seems slightly mad to me, but there is clearly a market for them.

One possible reason is that, according to research by the College of Optometrists, 43 per cent of people think that glasses make someone look more intelligent (yay!) and 36 per cent believe they make you look more professional and business-like (oh yes!). As a result, 40 per cent of people would consider wearing clear lens glasses that they don’t need in order to get ahead at work and look fashionable.

Part of me wishes I had a choice to wear them or not, but I am stuck with bad eyesight. I do have some options though, so at least have the chance to ring the changes.

glasses 2

glasses 5

glasses 3

glasses 4

glasses 1

My favourite place to find new frames in the UK is Roope’s Opticians, in St Albans http://www.robertroope.com/opticians/ and they have their own line of frames available on the web: http://blackeyewear.com/about/ .

For some more pictures of glasses I love: https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/glasses-i-like/

marilyn glasses

Have a good weekend

Annie Bee x

green bee for signature copy

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