The author and his friend Nando at WORN’s Legendary Black Cat Ball
Glasses weren’t always cool. The archetypal nerd of our collective imagination is still pictured with thick-rimmed black glasses affixed with white tape. Not that I was ever bullied for wearing mine. I was called “four eyes” once and my reaction was, “Really now? People actually say that?” I wasn’t embarrassed when my nearsightedness forced me to get glasses, but I certainly didn’t relish the chance to pick out frames. Glasses, like underwear, were just something you had to wear. (The main difference being glasses are worn on the face, while underwear isn’t… most of the time.)
Then I started noticing something. Tina Fey wore her glasses on SNL, Sarah Palin wore hers on FOX News, and Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin in glasses became a YouTube sensation. Spectacles had ceased to be something celebrities were ashamed of and soon others began ‘coming out’ as their true bespectacled selves.
Even animals got in on it. T-shirts appeared with anthropomorphic creatures like Kermit the Frog and Hello Kitty wearing chunky horn-rimmed glasses. But the most telling phenomenon of all: the availability of hip frames with no lenses, so that even those with 20/20 vision can look cool (or should I say nerdy?).
We were having a glasses moment and I, with my old nondescript frames, was missing it. When I decided to get new ones, my first step was to ask advice from my friend and coworker Nando. His cute frames always seem to enhance (not detract from) his handsomeness. Although I wanted cool glasses, I still wanted people to see me through the lenses.
Nando recommended a place on Queen Street with a two-for-one deal. While the idea of having more than one pair of glasses seemed indulgent and a tad “Court of Versailles,” I gleefully pictured trying on a myriad of pairs reflecting different aspects of my personality. It would be like those movie scenes where characters try on an absurd number of silly hats just because they can.
I invited Nando to accompany me to the frame store, but our work schedules conflicted so I went solo. The two witty sales associates played a game similar to Good Cop/Bad Cop. One would offer a pair (“How do you feel about tortoise shell?”) while the other, acting like the tough-love friend, would rule them out.
I went through almost every style mentioned in WORN’s Issue 11 glasses glossary, but when I put on a modern reworking of the classic brow-line frame we knew we had found choice number one. For my second pair, I decided on thick, black horn-rimmed frames. I knew they were a hipster cliché (if you google search “hipster glasses,” there they are) but I thought they made me look geek-chic cute.
When I first wore them in front of Nando, I was worried that my bespectacled role model would disapprove of my choice.
“Aww, Max, those are so good!” was the general consensus at work. Then Nando noticed them.
“Yeah, um, they look very familiar,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I have the exact same pair.”
“Do they have the little stars on the corners?”
“This is why you should have come with me.”
If Nando has two pairs and I have two pairs, my understanding of probability tells me that there’s only a one in four chances of us wearing the same frames on the same day. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? So I’m working on another theory to help me sleep at night. What’s so wrong with owning the same pair of glasses? Why can’t we both take it as mutual flattery? Our whole ‘who wore it better’ culture is too competitive as it is. I like the frames on him and I like the frames on me.
Personal style is not in an item itself, but how you wear it.
Sometimes you need a new pair of glasses to see things clearly.
text by Max Mosher
photo by Samantha Walton