in defense of cheap sunglasses


Just as I’m convinced it is worthwhile to splash out for certain items, certain categories of items, other categories I am more than happy to skimp on and buy as cheaply as possible. Others I like to have representatives from several brackets, so I’ve got a few options re: quality. Lipstick is a great example of this, and I think all kinds of makeup and skincare. I like budget as well as luxe options in most categories. While it’s nice to invest in a great quality lipstick, there are too many beautiful colors to choose only one (so I say), and budget options are one way to have that variety. It’s just the same with sunglasses. Just the same.*

*You know when you’re entirely convinced how fitting an analogy is, and keep seeing parallels that reinforce its strength and integrity everywhere? This is one of those analogies right now.

I’ve invested in a few pairs of what I would call good sunglasses; quality lenses, sturdy construction, versatile styles I can wear any time, all the time. [I’m talking $100-$200 range sunglasses. Though sunglasses can get much more expensive than this, I doubt the quality improves much beyond this point.] I’ve mentioned them before.

(parenthetical photo recap:

IMG_6578Vuarnet, Vuarnet, Spektre, Ray-Ban)

This is all well and good, but…you know…what about the other kinds of sunglasses? There are so many appealing silhouettes, and it would be a shame not to play with them. [Wouldn’t it?]

Enter dirt cheap sunglasses. I mean $10 or less cheap, $5 or less . Mayyyybe $15ish. That would be an indulgent pair of cheap sunglasses, if you follow. I’m talking eBay, tourist stalls, Chinatown. Cheap (but with basic UV protection still). I had a specific list of styles I wanted to have at my disposal, but didn’t want to pay much to have them there. The sunglasses equivalents of costume jewelry. I found these gradually over many long winter months.

The list

1. Gold aviators with orange mirror lenses

Basically a Ray-Ban clone. Like the pair I already have but with mirror lenses…

2. Circular lenses, retro look


I found one I liked, then one I liked better… A weird or distinctive pair of sunglasses instantly adds interest, even to the most unremarkable ensemble.

3. Wayfarers and close cousins w/ patterned frames and/or mirror lenses


Variations on the Spektre wayfarer-style pair I have and love, some fresh options. Wanted clear frames like this with mirror lenses. Oh, and I have that pair with white rubbery frames. Where did I put those?

4. Audrey shades with tortoiseshell or burgundy frames (or cream)


Because this glam oversized look is not quite ME but I’ve wanted to experiment with it. I don’t always want to be exactly me, anyway. I like the fit and look of these better than I expected, a nice surprise. I couldn’t decide between these two…(if looking for this silhouette, use the keyword ‘Audrey’ evidently)

I think [I concede] this got a little out of hand, and I have too many pairs now. I do really like that concept of having only one or two signature pairs that go with everything. Like a signature lipstick (see!), or perfume. But I don’t have a signature lipstick or perfume, either, so I’m really very consistent in this story. Another addition to the volume of unnecessary/dumb stuff I spend my money on. And there’s that comforting knowledge that I’m free to sit on them or lose them without it constituting a notable loss. AND, if someone really likes them or needs to borrow them, I can spontaneously give them away. I like doing that, now and then.

the Warby Parker fall 2013 collection: a literary homage

WP_FALL2013_still_2This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own, etc.

Remember how I mentioned really liking Warby Parker?

Chic, affordable frames, cool progressive vision*, and for every pair purchased a pair is distributed to someone in need? Remember?

*ex. the origin of their name: “We’ve always been inspired by the master wordsmith and pop culture icon, Mr. Jack Kerouac. Two of his earliest characters, recently uncovered in his personal journals, bore the names Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper. We took the best from each and made it our name.” They are basically out-hipstering the hipsters.

Well, it turns out that their fall 2013 collection, launching today, is a “reverent bow” to literary figures of the early sixties; Ripley (The Talented?), Holcomb (I’m guessing Roscoe (cf. Man of Constant Sorrow, check out his glasses)), Ellison (Ralph)… I love the combination of fashion and literature, though I’m not clear on the exact reference with all of these. Sad, isn’t it? Admittedly I’m not really up on my sixties literature, the 19th century being more my style. I do like Patricia Highsmith…

Warby Parker offered me a chance to have an early look at the designs and participate in the launch along with other bloggers who will be weighing in on the collection today, a neat grassroots marketing approach. Honestly I don’t need glasses** (yet) but I am coveting some of these anyway.

**I sometimes wear them regardless, with non-prescription lenses. I do what I want.

I like how this collection has balanced being heavily stylistic and retro–some recall famous black and white photographs of their referents immediately to mind (you know, if you know what they are), and to wear them is to carry those echoes with you–with being entirely wearable. They’re not, at least to me, over the top. They remain accessories consistent with current styles and don’t tip over into the realm of costume (well, maybe a few options come close, but still), as we see with some retro-inspired fashion. They are eccentric (statement pieces) without ever losing a sense of style – not only personal style (all eccentricity has that, which I fully, fully support) but style with a finger on the pulse of the best of current trends. I can see these appealing across the board to a wide variety of aesthetics (the pinup, the executive, the entrepreneur, the academic, the writer (of course), the fashionista, the flaneur…) independent of age and gender.

All this without being too on trend (well, depending on the rest of the look), which can create an effect of self-consciousness, of trying too hard, wiping out the appeal of being stylish (in that current sense) at all. One wants to express a personal interpretation of a style, not be a parody of one (unless one does happen to want to be a parody, in which case fair enough). You don’t want the style wearing you.

That these are quiet interpretations (the dark palette rather than rainbow options, the softness of browns and grays rather than a hard black rim) of the sixties styles they are referencing keeps them modern for me, and the warm brown tortoiseshell options are spot on for autumn. You can see the full collection and details on their site (eyeglasses / sunglasses) so I’ll just point out a few of my favorite styles and color options.



 Ripley in Oak Barrel

duckworth-optical-oak-barrel-frontDuckworth in Oak Barrel

This shape is somehow just what I hope it would be.

holcomb-optical-marbled-sandstone-frontHolcomb in Marble Sandstone

The Marble Sandstone options are the loudest, I would say, and flirting more with that costume/eccentricity line than the rest. Still great, though. I like the darker version of this style, too.

ellison-sun-whiskey-tortoise-frontEllison in Whiskey Tortoise

rowan-optical-whiskey-tortoise-frontRowan in Whiskey Tortoise

My favorite frame has to be the Duckworth, I think, with the Ripley a close second, but it’s a tough call. I’d be curious to try all of these on. You really never know until you see them on.

In sum: I like a brand that can tell a story. (They’ve made a commercial for the collection, too.)

WP_FALL2013_still_1Images provided by Warby Parker.