Nothing is so telling of a sartorial period in time than glasses, both sunglasses and spectacles.
From the round shapes of the thirties, to the cat eyes of the fifties and the brightly coloured sports glasses of the nineties, your choice of eyewear marks your personal style quicker than you can say Tom Cruise in Risky Business (black Ray Ban Wayfarers).
Very different of course to Tom Cruise in Top Gun (mirrored Ray Ban aviators) or in Cocktail (Vintage Persol).
The above styles are quintessential 80s benchmarks, but each pair sends a very different message.
But before I begin my list of massive generalisations, first let me put on my oversized tortoiseshell cat eye reading glasses that say: “I work in fashion and my first pair were by Tom Ford, but I lost them, so these are a cheaper version I found online”.
You’re hiding something dark, but in some type of strange juxtaposition, you are supremely confident, macho, outgoing, probably a bit annoying and very pleased with yourself.
You don’t see the humour in Top Gun.
You may be a bounty hunter.
An NYC brand started in 1915 that has a slightly retro feel, specialising in redux styles such as amber frames with green tinted lenses.
You’re cool. You’re elegant, understated and you appreciate quality.
You’re older, and don’t fall for fads. You have a bit of cash and you’re drinking espresso.
We are being specific to women here as you don’t see many men rocking the cat eye. You are fun, sexy, glamorous, smart, you like old Hollywood films, and lipstick.
The oversized ones are very on trend at the moment (Australian fashion designer Kim Ellery has just released a great new collection for Specsavers, photographed on Gemma Ward).
You’re intelligent enough to know that you don’t have to take them off to be drop dead gorgeous.
Black glasses with dark, opaque lens
The fashion crowd’s favourite. Pure unadulterated glamour mixed with a high dose of existential ennui. Think of an unhappy and tormented Anouk Aimee and Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, the beatniks of the sixties, Bob Dylan in his heavy drug period, punks, spies, movie stars, celebrities, Anna Wintour trying to mask her despair at the idea of watching one more fashion show.
They say: I’m a bit above all this, I’m slightly bored, I have no real interest in you, and I may leave this trivial existence and spiral into a pit of nothingness. Or go shopping.
Ultimately though, without bling, they’re the coolest. For confirmation, just see Obama’s sunglasses.
Apparently at 53, he doesn’t even need readers.
Coloured, wraparound, reflective lenses, perhaps with an elastic strap, maybe by Oakley.
They could indicate a sportsperson, a yachtie, surfie, waterskier, hanglider, all fine.
Or they could be at a racetrack at about 3.30pm, with a suit that pools at the ankles.
That conversation’s not going to go well.
Round, small John Lennon/Gandhi glasses
These tend to say, “I’m very smart, maybe poetic. I am not going to force my opinions on you.
“I’m a thinker. I’m humble. I’m cool, but I’m not making a big deal about it because I respect your intelligence. I’m potentially broke”.
Red or pink frames
Often associated with red or pink hair, this person will not go unnoticed.
They are bright, bubbly and hard to impress. They are probably in the arts, may also wear boxy asymmetric Japanese designer clothing, such as Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please and wedge sandals.
If male, they may be French, have always bought their frames from Alain Mikli, and are still doing that sexy, intellectual thing at age 75.
Heavy black Clark Kent frames
Male or female: “I’m really really hot and nothing, no matter how dorky, can hide it”.
I’ve never seen the attraction, as they have a slightly unnerving serial killer vibe about them.
Either that, or you bought them at the $2 shop.