It’s time I did a fashion post again, and what better topic for me to tackle than glasses? Being a bespectacled gal myself, I am often annoyed by the sentiment that glasses make a girl look ugly or unfeminine simply because she wears them.
The fact of the matter is that is far from true. Our perception that women with glasses are ugly ducklings who will transform as soon as they ditch the glasses is mostly created by the media. We see it in movies like the Sabrina remake or the first Princess Diaries movie. We see the male version of this in the Superman franchise. But let’s stop to think about this for a minute, what do those glasses all have in common? Big, thick, dark rims and giant, face-distorting lenses. It’s not the glasses, it is the style of glasses.
Different styles of glasses communicate different things, which again, we mostly get from media. The media gets it from various unconscious associations between shapes and dispositions.
First, my cardinal rule about glasses: Glasses should not distort, disguise, or distract, but should enhance your face.
Second, if you are hoping I will justify women wearing hipster glasses, leave now because I will disappoint you.
With that, we shall now talk about rims.
Particular rims styles carry some specific associations. Obviously ones that were popular in certain times periods will evoke that time period.
But what do thick rims, the ones typically shown in these movies evoke? These women are shown as nerdy, unfeminine, clumsy, childish, and potentially as workaholics. Why? Well, think about it, these days the main reason a woman has thick rims on her glasses is because she might break them or is not aware of what looks good on her face. Thick rims disguise and distract from a woman’s face. Especially if they are a bright, garish color. Thick rims add too much weight to the face and can interfere with expressiveness. Note how in the picture above, the girl wearing glasses looks angrier than she is probably meant to, because the rims block her eyebrows and replace them. Thick rims add a lot of harshness to the face, you can’t not notice them. They distract from the wearer’s actual features by painting big windowsills around the person’s eyes, dividing them from the rest of the face. The thicker and more attention grabbing your rims are, the less people will remember your actual face.
Thicker rims can create a sense of childlike curiosity, but this only really works if the lenses also make the wearer’s eyes look larger. However, with that childlike look will come the inevitable assumption that the wearer is clumsy. This is because thick rims help keep glasses from getting broken, which a child is more likely to accidentally do.
Thinner rims are far more suited to the female face, because they contribute a daintier feel and don’t interfere so much with expressions. They direct an onlooker towards the wearer’s eyes without boxing the eyes in. Thinner rims act more like eyeliner, especially when paired with the right color and lens shape,
Lens shape is another important aspect to consider when one selects a pair of glasses.
At one end of the spectrum we have round glasses.
Round glasses are closely associated with John Lennon and Harry Potter fans, or Modern architects if they have really thick rims. The circular shape is strongly associated with hippies and pseudo-intellectuals (Ones that are especially large are associated with hapless maids). They will make you seem easygoing and self important all at once. They will also draw attention to (but not exaggerate) any bags you have under your eyes, and may suggest you got them from smoking too much of something. Those with rounder faces may want to avoid them, since they will reinforce the roundness of one’s features. All that said, rounder glasses do add a gentler, more well meaning look, being more feminine of a shape overall.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have square glasses. Okay, rectangular, I don’t think legitimately square glasses have ever been worn by anyone.
Undeniably masculine and very harsh, unless paired with very thin rims or no rims at all, rectangular glasses will not look good on a feminine face. If the wearer has no squareish features, the glasses will clash and stand out too much. If the wearer does have squarish features, such as Carl up there, they will reinforce them, making the wearer look more masculine. Rectangular glasses are usually associated with stricter, more authoritarian intellectuals. They add an air of humorlessness and exactness. This shape is not for the fainthearted, a permanent, cheerful smile is needed to offset the shape.
In the middle is the much easier to wear, squarish oval.
This shape looks good on most faces, and manages to cultivate the best aspects of rectangular glasses without so much of the stigma. It still evokes the intelligence and a certain measure of the strictness, but leaves behind the majority of the humorlessness. However, a good smile will still be needed to accompany these, because they still do evoke the slightest hint of annoyance. In anime these are often worn by the studious sidekick of an ever so slightly annoying hero. The annoyance normally coming from the hero not listening to their intelligent suggestions. These glasses will enhance the eyes better than rectangular glasses, being closer to the actual eye shape. They add a little respectability and sophistication to the face and are good for women who look a bit younger than they are.
Towards the more circular side, we have the highly wearable and feminine oval.
A much kinder and gentler shape, these are my personal suggestion for most women (the shape, not the brand). Oval glasses are highly successful due to the fact that they closely mimic the shape of the eye and the eye socket. It makes the glasses seem extremely natural on the face. They add the intelligent look that glasses generally have, and add a friendliness due to the bottom half of the rim being shaped similarly to a smile. The top half of the rims imitate the curve of the resting eyebrow, bringing in that easy-going aspect of the round glasses. Overall they are cheerful and feminine, keep the rims thin and you probably have a winner.
There are also aviator glasses, but unless you have bifocals or trifocals and therefore need them, I would not suggest them. All they do is exaggerate the bags under your eyes and make you look old.
Determining what size your glasses should be is easy. Keep them close to the size of your eye socket and try to avoid having them extend too far beyond the edges of your face.
Color is more difficult and highly subjective. A more neutral, metallic color tends to be the best bet. However, if you wear a particular accent color a lot I would suggest trying to match that.
This character’s red glasses work because they go with her tie and shoes, otherwise they would be a bit too bright. Bright colors can suggest an outgoing and vivacious personality, or can make it seem like you are trying too hard. Neutral colors are more reserved and serious. Colors of course have their own symbolism, which you need to pay at least a little attention to. Primarily you should consider whether the the color looks good on you personally.
That is my guide for selecting glasses that will look good. If anyone has suggestions I’d be glad to hear them, and if you have questions I’ll be glad to answer them.
Not all men like a woman with glasses, but if anime has taught me anything, it is that there is a subset of men who like glasses very much.