When was the last time you had your eyes checked? If they haven’t had in the last two years, your vision may have changed. But how do you look chic now that you need bifocals and reading glasses? “Today” contributor Charla Krupp talks about what’s fabulous in fashion frames, and the "the brilliant buy" in eyewear.
Get some fun frames for your face
Now more than ever, frames are in fashion. Your glasses make a bigger fashion statement than even your shoes or your bag because they’re the first thing people see when they look at you. Liv Tyler wore sexy Selima cat eyes at the Oscars and messaged the world, “I’m gorgeous and smart.” Here’s some retail news: Designers have been putting their logos on sunglasses for a while, but this year, almost every big name has an eye on eyewear, for men as well for women: Coach, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers, Nike, Converse, CK, Fendi, Valentino, and the NBA offers frames. Joey Pants and Sponge Bob Square Pants also have a line of eyewear.
Why are eyeglasses so pricey?
Licensing fees can add to the cost, but it takes a lot of design and style to make a tiny amount of plastic or wire look sexy and flattering on your face. Your eyewear bill is divided between your frames and your lenses. Here is the light bulb moment: You don’t have to buy both at the same place because the boutique that has the frames you love, may not offer the best prices on lenses.
Let’s talk frames
Quality materials are expensive. When you buy lenses, you’re paying for either laminated plastic (or Zyl, short for zylonite, as it’s called), from Italy and France, or high performance metals like Titanium which is super light weight or Flexon is bendable. The average price paid for frames in 2003 was $138.97. Here’s a range:
- Brooks Brothers, $99
- Jones New York — you’ve seen their Brooke Shields ads — well priced at $120
- Nike Flexons — $250
- Elton John’s colorful frames by Alain Mikli, $375
- Nicole Kidman’s rimless titaniums by Robert Marc, $425
Nicole wears the Robert Marc rimless design in her new movie, “The Interpreter,” and she loved them so much that she wore them home from the set.
So what is “the brilliant buy?”
Prada eyewear is unisex and costs $159 which is much more do-able than a Prada coat or bag. Comparable designer frames run well over $200.
Price list for eyewear add-ons
Lenses can cost more than your frames, depending on your vision needs. This is where it gets tricky because with all the add-ons, you feel as if you’re buying a new car! Here's what the add-ons can cost:
- UV Protection: $25
- Photo-chromic: $40
- Anti-reflective: $66.75
- Scratch-resistance: $96.39
- Bi/Trifocals with scratch resistance: $124.70
- Progressive lenses with scratch resistance: $235.99
- Super thin with scratch resistance: $248
- Super thin progressive lenses with scratch resistance and anti-reflective: $345
Average price of lenses: $142.80
The light bulb here is about location, location, location. For the same lenses, you can pay $100 more at fancy boutique in Rockefeller Center than in a mall in Bethlehem, Pa.
The coolest trends in eyewear
Square-shaped lenses that are rimless wires look modern. The trend is glasses that are so light that they almost disappear on your face. With all these stunning choices, the biggest mistake you can make is choosing something boring. Go for it and make a style statement with your frames. Give yourself an edge by wearing rimless frames which are flattering.
What about color?
Most fashion forward are the translucent plastics in crystal clear or blush colors pinks and reds. Green is also having its moment.
What else is fabulous?
Temple action! Sexy design details on the sides. Two-timing frames that have a surprise color inside for the wearer.
What about eyewear for evening?
This is our favorite category. For those black-tie events, go for the bling, bling with Swarowski crystals, stones, pearls and logos from Chanel, Dior, Valentino. Judith Leiber frames are all about glamour-rama for $510 and $625. The award for the most bling, bling goes to Sama Eyewear’s Pyramid of Diamonds with 152 diamonds, a total of 2.32 carats and priced at $18,000.
And finally, reading glasses go high fashion
Now that baby boomers need restaurant glasses to read the menu, readers or magnifiers are hip and affordable at $20, $30 and $40. Corrinne McCormack has wild colors, stones and animal prints. Scojo has pop-up readers with crystals and rubber ones that bend. California Optics has the tiniest that are also magnetic. You can have fun with readers because you only keep them on for a few minutes.
And remember to donate your old glasses to a group like The Lion’s Club. For more eyewear info on fit and more, see the Vision Council of America Web site at eyecessorize.com.
Charla Krupp is the executive editor of a new shopping magazine called Hearst's Shop Etc, coming out in August.