Embracing The Geekiness Of Wire-Rim Glasses

As a forever-wearer of glasses, the idea of specs turning into such a fashion accessory bewilders me. I get pangs of jealousy whenever I see a woman who looks really good in glasses in that super-casual, “I woke up like this” kind of way, because I personally have a hard time embracing that kind of moxie. I have a nearsighted prescription of -10.50 in both eyes (plus a dash of astigmatism), which means that no matter how chic the frames are, the extreme thickness of my lenses will always give my eyes that inevitable Coke-bottle effect, making them look set back and small. And hell knows I can’t see well enough to put on eye makeup. Wearing glasses, when I absolutely need to, makes me feel frumpy and unpresentable; so looking stylish and confident in glasses can be a struggle.
Photo: Courtesy of Jinnie Lee.
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Though I wear contacts in my day-to-day, I will always be a glasses girl at heart — my identity is forever associated with wearing thick lenses. I’ve worn glasses since I was 4 years old. It was around that age I developed amblyopia, also known as the lazy eye, in both eyes. My eyeballs were always out of focus and I even wore an eye patch for several years in an effort to correct the problem. It wouldn’t be until I was 15, after a too-long childhood of getting made fun of, that I would get surgery to fix the laziness.

Until that point, I had always worn wire-rim glasses. It wasn’t so much a choice as there weren’t good options out there. (The kid's glasses market is slim pickings.) Harry Potter may have been my early kindred spirit, but my priority as a high school freshman was to look as cool as possible. So, I ditched the thin wiry stuff for the more substantial, nerd-rock acetate frames, à la Weezer. I had also started wearing contacts, which was surely life-altering, but when you have as terrible vision as I do, glasses are never far from reach. Naturally, my glasses-wearing identity crisis continued to evolve into my 20s.
Photo: Courtesy of Jinnie Lee.
As the years passed and I graduated from college, the glasses market exploded with thick, acetate frames. The “cool” frames kept getting bigger and bigger, more oversized and bug-eyed. I cycled from small rectangular tortoiseshell to circular ones, to modern clear frames, to two-toned hipster acetates, to retro red frames.

I was deep in the vintage-granny look during a bout of eye infection when it uncomfortably dawned on me one day that I was staring into the eyes of someone who wasn’t even into “statement glasses.” It was as though I had been wearing an ironic disguise the entire time. All my life, I wanted to avoid any attention brought to my googly Igor eyes. Yet, there I was, even post-surgery, still self-conscious about my poor vision while also wearing bold frames that directly showcased the biggest pain point from my life.

This look wasn’t working for me. At least, not anymore. For starters, thick lenses in big-ass frames literally get heavy on the face. Secondly, acetate frames were always resting on my cheeks — I have a shallow nose bridge (shoutout to my fellow Asians) and I never realized how radically imperative nose pads are. Lastly, the idea of wearing glasses primarily as a fashion accessory was backwards-thinking for me, as someone who can barely make out her own reflection in the mirror. Sure, I had loved my stylish frames when they served their sartorial purpose, but at the end (and beginning, ha) of the day, I need practical glasses that I can see out of. So, with that, I went old school again, ditching acetate in favor of subtle, basic wire-rim glasses.

Lucky for me, geeked-out wire-rim frames are making quite the comeback, so it doesn’t take much effort to score a solid pair. I enjoy the plethora of style options available and it makes me wish I had this wide of a selection growing up. The only downside is that thin wire frames aren’t very conducive to concealing the extreme thickness of -10.50 prescription lenses, but whatever. I can still make these my own. Even if you'll never see me rocking glasses as a finishing touch to an #OOTD, I do feel a certain comfort knowing that I have, at the very least, found glasses that are intended to help me see with such clarity. Yes, this is my look.
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