Sure, the right shirt counts and decent shoes are crucial to a good first impression; but seeing as people talk to your face more than your chest or feet (we’d hope), the importance of solid eyewear shouldn’t be overlooked.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, it’s time to take care of the flower boxes out front with our crystal-clear guide to corrective specs and stylish shades.
Choosing A Frame To Fit Your Face
There are five main shapes that all faces fall into when it comes to glasses, and around twice as many styles of frames. While this means there is bound to be at least one that suits you, this broad range also opens up plenty of scope for getting it wrong.
To omit any ocular errors, we tapped up eyewear experts at high-end opticians David Clulow to compile a failsafe guide.
We’re sure you love your round face; heck, you’re even in the same category as Justin Timberlake, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig, but that doesn’t mean you want to accentuate it. Eyewear 101 states that “you should always look for a frame that goes against the face shape,” according to Tessa Forde, a senior optometrist at David Clulow. “[Therefore,] if you have a round face, go for square frames.”
Narrow, rectangular frames with a strong bridge give the illusion of a longer face, while also providing soft, round faces with definition and structure.
One of the most common shapes, men with oval faces are fortunate enough to have won the genetic jackpot and suit a range of styles. To add balance to the mix of both rounded and defined elements within your face, opt for frames that are as wide the broadest part (usually the forehead).
The David Clulow team encourage experimentation with softer angles and less of a pronounced nose bridge.
A chiselled jaw and angular features sounds like the face shape any man would trade his right kidney for. However, like all shapes, it still requires offsetting, in this case with more circular styles.
As Forde points out, round frames often cover a larger surface area, meaning care must be taken to avoid Gatsby-esque Owl-Eyes syndrome: “Depending on the style of the frame, you don’t want them to come too high above your eyebrows, or too low down on your cheeks.” Tread lightly.
In the same way oval faces are a less severe version of round faces, rectangular mugs are more easy-going than those that are square. If you see slim features and a superhero jawline looking back at you in the mirror, adding width is essential.
The David Clulow team recommend opting for softer curves on frames, combined with thick temples to draw attention to the sides of the face, making a long face look shorter.
Top-heavy inverted triangle faces are typically working with a broad forehead that narrows to a small chin. Therefore, the goal is to choose a pair of glasses that will minimise the width of the top of the face, while adding bulk to the bottom half.
Try light metal, clear plastic or rimless frames that are broader at the bottom or have an accent colour on the lower half to draw attention down the face.
Just as the fit of a suit isn’t enough to make it look good (though it certainly helps), when it comes to frames, there are other factors to consider in addition to shape.
Further balance can be added to the face by choosing a frame colour that works with your skin tone. For example, chunky black or similarly dark frames will contrast harshly against pale complexions. In this case, the David Clulow style team recommend a less stark tortoiseshell instead.
The opposite is true for medium and darker skin tones. While it’s tempting to play it safe, as with clothing, darker skin opens up the entire colour spectrum, and therefore frames can be used to add interest or act as a statement piece.
Choosing The Right Fit
By now it should be crushingly obvious that opticals are not a one-size-fits-all piece of facial furniture. When buying glasses for the first time, it’s best to visit a retailer to try models on for size.
If you’re due an upgrade, however, it’s easy to pick a size that cleaves closest to your existing pair. If the frames are fairly modern, look on the undersides of each arm or on the bridge of the nose – you should find three separate numbers stamped. In order, these represent:
Eye Size: A two-digit number in the 40-62 range. This is the width of the lens from the edge of the frame to the bridge.
Bridge Size: A two-digit number in the 14-24 range, which is the length of the bridge.
Temple Size: A measure in mm of the length of the arms.
These are usually accompanied by a series of capital letters and numbers, which you can simply ignore as they denote the model and make of the frames.
Eye size is going to be the key variable, as depending on the style of frame, angular and wide frames are likely to have a bigger eye size than round ones. Base your choice on comfort and practicality. If you find a pair of glasses that fit you perfectly, it may be worth making a note of the measurements on these to make any future buys easier.
When it comes to corrective glasses, higher prescriptions typically require thicker lenses – think more Milhouse than #menswear. Fortunately, these can be thinned (often at an extra cost) to make the overall glasses lighter and more attractive.
Key Terms – Frames And Lenses
With glasses now as much an everyday style accessory as backpacks and belts, it’s likely you’ll come across several familiar names, including Calvin Klein, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren. But you’re just as likely to see many confusing terms that’ll cause you to squint; especially when it comes to frames and lens type. Here are some of the most need-to-know.
Acetate: One of the most common frame materials, Acetate is a high-quality plastic known for being strong, lightweight and long-lasting. As well as being available in a range of colours, some glasses brands manufacture their own, resulting in unique takes on styles such as tortoiseshell.
Metal: Metal frames can come from a range of materials, and sometimes a combination of several. The most common two are titanium and stainless steel. In addition to being high-strength and lightweight, metal frames usually offer a more sleek, professional finish; making them perfect for work.
Wood: Wooden frames are growing in popularity thanks to use by the likes of Ray-Ban, Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani. The textured material offers a fresh take on traditional frames, though is more common in handmade styles as its harder to adjust than metal or plastic.
Handmade: A growing number of brands and retailers are giving the Savile Row treatment to specs, offering bespoke handmade versions that are customised to your face. Key brands include Oliver Peoples, Cubitts and Ace & Tate.
Single-Vision: Single-vision lenses have one prescription throughout the lens and can be for either near- or far-sighted use.
Varifocals: Varifocal lenses are made up of three seamless parts within one clear lens. The different sections allow the wearer to see near, far and mid-range distances comfortably.
Transitions: Also known as photochromic lenses, transitions react to ultraviolet light, essentially switching from glasses to sunglasses. However, they have a habit of getting stuck on the awkward in-between, so were last seen on Will Smith in 2015.
Coatings: Opticians will often offer optional extra coatings that are worth considering. Most lenses include scratch resistance as standard, but anti-reflective, anti-smudge and even UV coatings that don’t change the lens colour are also available.
A Word On Sunglasses
Great news for anyone whose favourite style was ruled out by the above, while many of the same principles apply, Forde says the rules relax slightly when it comes to sunglasses.
“The wider surface area associated with round frames is less of an issue with sunglasses, as they’re stylistically designed to be larger than their optical counterparts.”
Sunglasses allow you to showcase a more playful side to yourself, so don’t be afraid to break the mould set out above.