Glasses make a fashion comeback

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Specs are back in style, apparently – good news for the over-40s.

Alexa ChungSpectacles are the new black, according to an article I read in the Guardian the other day. Alexa Chung (left) is apparently the latest celeb to be seen out and about in her specs and the article describes her as the pin-up girl for the new trend.

If specs are back, it’s good news for those of us over 40, given how many of us need them once presbyopia rears its ugly head. 

Not that I associate glasses with ageing, incidentally. Maybe specs are an ‘issue’ for women who wear them for the first time in mid-life, but I’ve worn mine since I did my O-levels, age 16 and to me, they’re just part of my face. All that close-quarter poring over books as I revised for my exams made my eyes deteriorate shedloads in a very short time. Enter the Deidre Barlow look (this remark will mean nothing to Americans) – my huge pink and blue specs that took over most of my face throughout my teenage years. 

I like my glasses and I enjoy hiding behind them so it always rather surprises me that there are people who don’t find glasses sexy. But then, I suppose, there are people who find fake boobs and bleached teeth attractive. Horses for courses.

I’ve always fancied men in glasses, because it lends that air of intellectualism, and I could never EVER bring myself to sleep with someone stupid. Stupidity has got to be the biggest turnoff of the lot: intelligence, conversely, is very sexy. The second that Matthew Parry as Chandler in Friends put on glasses, he instantly became more attractive, and it was when I saw my (not-yet) husband in new frames that I first looked at him differently.

Grace KellyIt’s harder, though, to think of sexy women in specs. Many famous beauties who were blind as bats in real life, like Grace Kelly, hated to be photographed in theirs – shadows of that old chestnut: men never make passes at girls that wear glasses. 

It’s nonsense, of course, just like the idea that blondes have more fun. My old friend Mike discouraged his girlfriend Rosie from wearing contact lenses because he liked the idea that her naked face was a private matter – the world saw her with her specs on but only he saw her without them. And those who don’t wear them are missing a trick too because, in effect, they’re one more piece of clothing to remove, as tantalisingly as you like. 

Glasses can also lend some strength and structure to your face and make you look a little bit different. I always imagined Anastacia, for instance, must be very beautiful without her glasses, and so she is, but sadly once she removed them she looked less individual. I have trouble recognising her now (see below). This is a flattering shot of her, as she actually has quite a heavy chin that is more obvious now that it’s not balanced by the weight of her glasses. 

Anastacia with glassesAnastaciaThere are times I’ve not wanted to wear mine, of course – my wedding day, for instance – but that wasn’t vanity so much as not wanting my photographs to date. Having gone for a vintage dress and a vintage Rolls-Royce, it seemed rather a shame to lock the pictures permanently into the 1990s by wearing datable frames. 

I will not be giving my specs up any time soon, though, and for one very good reason – an emergency operation at the age of four has left me with one eyelid twice the size of the other. Very few people who’ve seen me only in glasses know that I have this quirk, which has the effect of making me look permanently surprised. Without glasses, it’s immediately noticeable. The specs make that easier to hide because I always pick frames that are directly in line with the top edge of my right eyelid.

The trend now in spectacles is for quite bold, narrow, oblong frames that have considerable presence and I was intrigued to read that many fashion retailers are now selling such frames with clear lenses. Very nice, and the position most of us spec wearers would secretly like to be in – able to wear them whenever we like, and not have to fiddle-arse about with lenses the rest of the time. 

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