I really can’t stand the new trend in eyewear. Fashion is cyclical; it seems the cycle is about twenty-five or thirty years. I was in college back then, or thereabouts, and everyone wore those Blues Brothers style frames – the classic Ray Ban look. I know, I had a pair myself – in fact they had pink lenses, and I loved them for many years. But now, I just can’t go there. Especially because the current interpretation of the look has the frames a bit larger than they were back in the day. Personally, I think the sunglasses that people are wearing these days look ridiculous. Just plain ugly. I don’t friggin care how goddam in they are – I cannot be made to participate in such a look. I do, however, remember feeling the same a few years back at the resurrection of the Jackie O-esque oversized frames, yet I did end up buying several pairs, and found them aesthetically quite acceptable. But to be fair, I chose a more moderate interpretation of the style. There really seems to be no such counterpart in today’s look. Plus the trend is for bright, neon colors. Ich. Everyone’s walking around looking like an extra from Pretty in Pink.
Ok. So that’s my take on the sunglasses. The frames of eyeglasses themselves have me feeling a bit more conflicted. One’s frames – or one’s everyday glasses – are something of a small investment. They can cost many hundreds of dollars, they are intended to last a few years, and so one makes that choice with greater care than when purchasing a pair of sunglasses at the drugstore. So of course some careful consideration goes into the decision. My own ‘everyday’ glasses were once exceedingly hip. A few years ago when the trend was about horizontally-oriented shapes, narrow, trim lenses with an angular feel – I found myself a pair issued by Nascar. (I’d previously had a pair by Harley Davidson – and so thought it was kinda cute that my next pair followed the all-American, motor-driven vehicle theme.) My glasses were – and still are – beautiful. Many have admired them over the years. But I’m afraid they are finally played out. I see myself as outdated as the clerks at Walmart wearing similar shapes themselves. It offers me little consolation to know that at least I’m not wearing some clumsily oversized, un-ironic, low-end frames from twenty years ago. Because I do see a good share of folks out in the world who are clearly still wearing the same glasses they did a quarter of a century ago. And while I admit my snobbery at their seeming cluelessness, I secretly wonder if it’s not simply a matter of economics, as it is with me. Might I also find myself one day in twenty-year-old frames? I suppose that’s all well and good if you cease to care. Part of me really wishes I could just cease caring. But sadly, I can’t. No matter how country and cutoff my life may be, I still wish to represent myself as a relevant, participating member of society. And the glasses have so very much to do with that message. Sigh.
I myself am suddenly feeling quite out of it – and have quite a bit of ambivalence about taking action. Firstly, I can hardly afford glasses. Elihu and I live on about a thousand dollars a month, and there is simply no room for such a purchase. Secondly, I don’t at all like the new style and will go so far as to say I think the look that’s popping up everywhere makes people look kinda silly. I see the rounder, more retro shapes showing up all over – on news anchors, artists, restaurant staff, shop owners and moneyed folks. Even though it looks pretentious and slightly wacky to me, I have to admit that I’m beginning to soften to it. I have a pair of my grandfather’s glasses from the ’30s (yes, my grandfather would be well over one hundred if he were still alive today) and they are classics. Tortoiseshell (probably actual tortoise!) and round, they are one of the original shapes that the new trend refers to. So that gives me a new tenderness for it, and this perspective opens my mind. But regardless of whether I like the look personally or not, I am now beginning to feel the pressure. How long can I wear my current glasses and not feel like an average joe? I don’t so much see the new frame styles in the lower economic strata – and I can guess that’s for reasons much like my own. We need to make sure that’s the direction things are going in for a while before we can make a financial commitment to the look. I wish there were some way for me to make a nod to the rounder, larger lense look, while still keeping to a more reserved size and shape. (Am I thinking about this too much? I don’t think so. It just takes so many words to convey the thought process which happens in the blink of an eye.) And so it seems I’m toying with the idea of making this happen, lest I appear to the world an ignorant dolt.
I’m not dwelling on this for hours each day, but I have spent some time lately thinking about what this means in the larger picture of my life. I’ve seen how the aging process works; I’ve seen people become increasingly oblivious to trends as they grow older. I’ve seen people frozen in a look for decades. As I’ve said before – I wish I could relieve myself of the burden of caring how I appear to others – but I can’t. I don’t want to care, but I do. I want somehow to join in the trend, but I want to do it in a way that represents the uniqueness of me along the way. I just spent a crazy couple hundred dollars on new contacts a few months ago – that was my tactic to relieve myself of the frame dilemma. Turns out I really don’t like the feel of this new brand, plus my need for readers while wearing contacts has become undeniable – and so I end up wearing my once-hip-but-now-not-so-much glasses all over again.
I think the easy solution here is to find some cheapie readers with that new look. There. That should do it. Because I’m not quite ready to look like Sally Jesse Raphael. Not just yet.