Through the Looking Glasses | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
June 25, 2014

Through the Looking Glasses

Text by Viseshika Sharma

For a long time using them meant you had a physical failing and wearers felt obliged to hide their dependence. Verve builds a case for spectacles as a power accessory and discovers how to wear them with make-up

You’ve heard the ditty before – guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. And you’ve seen the ad for contact lenses, where a girl is overlooked when she has on her glasses, and crowned beauty queen the moment she ditches them. The early 19th century made weak eyesight seem such a shortcoming that women would wander around blindly rather than expose their ‘failing’. Adolf Hitler hid his use of reading glasses because he believed they would undermine his authority, making sure that his documents were printed on a special typewriter with large fonts and more line spacing.

My sister was one of those people who needed glasses since she was five and switched to contact lenses the moment she could. Lately though, her collection of glasses rivals my collection of sunglasses. Is wearing glasses no longer a flaw? Isha Bhansali, a fashion editor who retails repurposed vintage frames under her label Periwinkle believes it may have to do with how being a ‘geek’ went mainstream. “Earlier only people who needed to have thick lenses because of their prescription would wear thick frames, and now everyone is wearing them because they’re so cool,” she says, referencing John Lennon, the fictional Harry Potter and Meryl Streep among her most memorable spectacle sporters. “Glasses have always denoted intelligence and a woman wearing them projects the message that she’s not to be taken for a piece of fluff,” she adds. And this isn’t limited to women – I remarked to an acquaintance that his rimless glasses made him look a lot older than his years and he confessed that it was intentional – he handled a lot of responsibility at his investment firm and felt that seeming older made a positive impression. Celluloid too builds on this perception, making characters serious and powerful, even imbuing them with authority, with the addition of a pair of glasses – professors, politicians and merchant princes all often have terrible eyesight! For many seasons Sabyasachi Mukherjee projected the intellectual side of his ideal woman by kitting out the models in distinctive frames during his shows.

Even actresses who are in the business of serious glamour have been known to peer out from behind acetate frames, making the taunt ‘four-eyes’ not quite so painful any more. Zoe Saldana, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Aniston and Cate Blanchett have all been spotted out and about, and even on the red carpet, in their spectacles. Bollywood actresses aren’t too far behind – Deepika Padukone and Sonakshi Sinha both sport glasses, albeit only on casual occasions. It helps that almost every luxury fashion house you’d care to name-check has a line of superbly stylish frames that seduce even those blessed with perfect eyesight.

As a make-up artist who has worn glasses for over 20 years, Bobbi Brown is uniquely qualified to provide guidance on how to dress up a face while wearing spectacles, and does so in her book Everything Eyes, which hasn’t released in India yet, but is available via online bookstores. “Wearing glasses draws plenty of attention to your eyes, so it’s best to keep your eye make-up simple. If you overdo your eye make-up, it will just clash with your frames and end up looking garish. Stick to neutral eye shadows and liners, and save the bright, bold colours for your lips.Also, always define your brows with a shadow that is the same shade as your hair colour. This will ensure that your glasses don’t overpower your face,”she advises, as we scramble to commit her words to memory. “Eyeliner is key; it really adds definition from behind your lenses,” adds Brown, going on to give a few tips on using shadow. “The colour of your eye shadow shouldn’t compete with the colour of your glasses. If you want to do the same colour as your frames on your eyelids,try a base hue that’s a shade lighter,and go a few shades darker for the crease colour. Finish the look with black liner and mascara.”

If finding the right frames has you stymied, Brown can help with that too.“The secret to finding perfect glasses is to buy the ones you love. Finding the right glasses is not unlike choosing the best haircut for your face. First decide what style you like: simple, quirky,cool – there are endless options. It helps to find frames you love on a face with a shape and colouring similar to yours. After locating the right style and shape, think about colour. Black and tortoiseshell traditionally look good on everyone, but you shouldn’t stop there. Bold colour can work to brighten up your skin,” she says, making it sound like an achievable task. We can’t wait for her line of frames, launched by Safilo, to hit shores further than North America,but till then, we’re armed for our next foray into the opticians’.


The perfect pair of frames – shape and colour – depends on a variety of factors. To find the best frame shape, I’d suggest choosing a pair based on your face shape. Here is how:

1. Eyes should be centred in each lens.

2. The top of your frames should follow the line of your brows. Avoid having your eyebrows too far above, or below, the frames.

3. Frame shapes that contrast with your face shape are most flattering. You don’t want your glasses to be the same shape as your face. If you’re not sure of your face shape, take a look in the mirror with your hair pulled back.

4. If you have an oval face, the most important thing is to focus on frames that reflect the size of your features and face shape as a whole. So if you have small features, avoid thick, large frames. If you have larger features, avoid rimless frames that will get lost. It’s all about balance.

5. For a heart-shaped face, choose frames that are stronger on the bottom, to add the appearance of width to the lower, narrower part of your face. Both thick and thin frames work as long as they are in proportion with your features.

6. If you have a round face, choose options with more angular lines. Square and rectangular frames are great choices.

7. If you have a square face, frames with curved or rounded corners are a great option – they soften features. Also, make sure to choose a pair of glasses that you feel confident wearing – they should match your personality.


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