How To Choose Your Next Pair Of Glasses

Bullies who made fun of their peers who needed glasses was one of those things that always felt so nonsensical to me. Who wouldn’t want to get to wear such a cool accessory on your face?! Lucky for us, glasses are trendy these days. Even luckier, with the advent of the interwebs, any spectacle style you desire can be at your door with your prescription in days. What a time to be alive!

Classic frames might work for some, but I like that you can show off your beautiful personality on the outside with any number of unique shapes, colors, and styles. If buying mass-produced looks isn’t your thing, scouring for vintage frames is as easy as buying new ones: Many optometry shops will hand cut lenses for you. Yes, you read that right! If you can find a shop that cuts lenses, your prescription can be put in any pair of glasses or sunglasses. Even better: You can turn glasses into sunglasses, or vice versa, vintage or not.

With this flood of options, you don’t need to choose from the expensive options in the store, which is especially helpful if you don’t have vision insurance. It can be manageable to purchase frames on your own, and easier to avoid the expensive designer options in the case. Here are some tips for buying the perfect pair I've picked up from being something of a glasses connoisseur.

To start, here's my photographer Maria and I wearing our favorite classic black frames.

And here's how we mixed them up!

1. Try Tortoiseshell For A Softer Look

If big black frames feel too dramatic for your taste, try a similarly bold look with a tortoiseshell finish. James Dean Eyewear makes round unisex frames in both light and dark tortoiseshell. It's one of the most OG frame styles you can wear, and these are modeled by Allure eyewear after James Dean’s bookish bad boy appeal. The round lens style is very in vogue right now, as vintage-inspired styles have come back into fashion.

These frames bring out our cheekbones and skin tones, and as you can see this darker tortoiseshell has a universal appeal for brunettes, which can range from midnight espresso to warm cocoa. Compared to the black frames, we both look miles softer and our hair color seems richer.

2. Don't Be Scared Of Vintage

Mia found these babies in a garage sale in LA, and I can’t wait to put in some tinted lenses and get my Penny Lane on. They have a grandma chic appeal that would go fabulous with more adventurous outfits. Though I wouldn’t want to wear these every day, I could see both Mia and me rocking these with a leather jacket or a floral button down to get extra '70s.

The second vintage pair started life as dollar store sunglasses with violet lenses. After many years and no less than one Bob Dylan Halloween costume, I swapped them for clear lenses with my prescription and haven’t looked back. The shape is completely unique and the marbled blue gives an '80s Molly Ringwald vibe. If you like to stand out from the crowd, vintage is your best bet!

3. Shop Sites With Virtual Try-Ons is the easiest place to get affordable glasses online at nearly any budget. For example, the Purple Acetate Full Frame model Maria and I are wearing is only 25 dollars! That’s pretty affordable, especially when you consider they come with your prescription filled. Maria and I agree it’s best to try stuff on IRL for optimal decision making, but Zenni lets you upload a photo and kind of see what you’re in for, which is a great option for anyone who doesn't have many in-store options nearby.

4. Test Out Plenty Unexpected Colors

Take advantage of online and at-home try on services by testing colors you'd never normally think to try! These Blue Classic Colorful Eyeglasses are even cheaper than their violet counterparts at 15 dollars. They look very close to everyone’s favorite Wayfarer-style glasses and are spot on for Pantone’s Limpet Shell, the number five color for 2016. A light blue might seem hard to pull off, but Maria and I found that they made our lipsticks look brighter and blushes more frisky.

4. Pick Up Interchangeable Frames

If you're someone whose tastes change on a daily basis, Carrera's Interchangeable Frames are an excellent option. There are eight options, and they come in square or round. Mia and I enjoyed changing the clip-on frames to test our favorite colors.

Though these come as sunglasses, you can easily have optical frames installed. This concept is terribly brilliant, since having a full wardrobe of frames makes accenting your style an effortless touch. Our favs were the multi-pattern and the basic red, blue and yellow frames.

I used to get so bummed when I saw not only how scant choices of frames were at the optometrist, but also how pricey they are. Now thanks to the web you can have frames modeled after your favorite celebrity or any color of the rainbow, and get them usually within 10 days. Store bought or vintage, you too can be a super individualist with the right pair.

So don’t settle for limited selections! Like Biggie’s mom always told him: The Sky Is The Limit.

Photos: Maria Penaloza