Sight Unseen

I stepped into the brightly lit, sterile Lenscrafters store already with a pounding headache from having broken my 10-year-old glasses.  Lacking proper, um, SIGHT, finding a new pair while a TSA blazer-wearing woman followed me around and asked if I needed any help (ironically she was unavailable to take my order when the time came), proved not only difficult, but headache enhancing.  I knew it was time for a new look, and damn that Jenna Lyons if she doesn’t inspire me to wear the biggest, nerdiest glasses I can find! (only WITH a sequin jogging pant and crisp denim shirt and heels, natch).

Fashionistas with Four Eyes have few choices in eyewear, and I never felt comfortable recommending that clients build an “eyewear wardrobe” because each pair can set you back around $500 and UP (depending on many factors such as lens type, frame “designer”, etc., but I think the cheapest pair I ever purchased from the sale bin still cost upwards of $350)   You see, I don’t WANT the free pair chosen from 6 wire rimmed frames from 1983 in the corner of the Lenscrafters store.  I want the Versace Tortoise Frames that would make me look strikingly like Jenna Lyons meets Sophia Loren and whose price tag (WITHOUT lenses) was nearly $400.  Even more than shoes, if you wear glasses, people will notice!  It’s your face, for chrissakes!  I also loved the delicate Kate Spade cat eyes ($250) and the purple tinged Tory Burch frames I could wear on days my outfit works with purple……($400).  Well, I wound up making the best fashion decision I could afford, and splurged for the Versace, leaving my eyewear wardrobe behind, frustrated and poor.

Enter, Warby Parker.  This eyewear company saw the problem and fixed it — stylish frames (they offer both eyeglasses and sunglasses) at a set price ($95) by taking out the expensive middleman (most frames you see in a superstore or at the optometrist are not truly designed by the name on the side, but rather a licensee who then churns them out to one of maybe TWO manufacturers at a huge cost to you)  Warby Parker is part of a growing trend in wholesale/retail – sell great products directly to the consumer and help a few folks along the way.  Like Tom‘s before them, WP donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair they sell.  Like Everlane, they have access to the same elevated materials and design aesthetic while cutting out unnecessary markups– all while keeping an eye on their carbon footprint.  Named for characters in  a Jack Kerouac journal, the company has a clean, user-friendly website that allows you to try 5 pairs of their glasses and/or sunglasses for a 5 day free trial.  Send them back free of charge, and order the pair(s) you love. No more glaring lights, or fake people in blazers telling you how you look.  Ask your loved ones right at home!

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The Spring 2015 Collection at Warby Parker is true to who they are — geek chic meets eclectic meets classic.  Two trends they play with this season are clear frames and an absolutely GORGEOUS blue infused tortoise.  Colored frames are always a risk, conjuring Sally Jesse Raphael imagery for my generation, but the blue in these frames reminds one more of denim or a dark sky than that cooky lady.  And for $95, why not have some fun with color.  The shapes of the frames vary from square to round, there are some touches of wire on some, but most are tortoise or colored plastic.

My trendslation of Warby Parker is that it is a real way to have your eyewear wardrobe and feel good about your purchase in the process.  I mean, who wouldn’t love a company that sells a monocle!

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