Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cheap Eye Candy

I have very poor vision. This is the result of faulty genetics and many childhood evenings spent straining to read The Babysitters Club after lights out. I've been wearing glasses since I was about seven years old and since then, have never gone a day without a pair of frames perched upon my nose. My vision's so bad I couldn't leave the house if I were glassesless, and I've never worn contacts.

Last year, I decided to invest in a pair of designer specs for the first time, eschewing my family's regular glasses guy for Spectacle, a boutique lenswear store on Queen St. W. That place is like a candy store for the poor-visioned—row upon row of colourful designer and vintage frames, set upon brightly lit shelves, and a staff of helpful and trendy glasses-wearing assistants. I had a ball trying on pairs, squinting at myself in the mirror, and finally settling on these, my yellow and brown Cutler and Gross beauties. Handmade perfection, a pair to frame this mug.

Good quality comes with a high price tag though, and while my Cutler and Gross frames are totally, utterly beloved, sometimes your budget is too sparse to spare $800 for a pair of glasses. THIS IS THE POST FOR YOU, moth-walleted and bespectacled brethren!

I've lusted over Warby Parker frames for a while—their designs have a smart, retro appeal in a huge variety of shapes and colours, and they're dirt cheap at $95 USD a pair (including prescription lenses unless you're super-blind like me, in which case it's just an extra $30). They've also recently started shipping to Canada (yay!), but if you live in the States, you can even order try-on pairs to see which you like best. Plus, WP is partnered with vision non-profits worldwide to donate a pair of glasses for every pair sold. Good for your eyes, good for someone else's too.

Winston in Old Fashioned Fade from Warby Parker

Tenley in Burgundy Fade from Warby Parker

Fillmore in Light Tortoise from Warby Parker

Another online retailer I've been scoping on the regular is BonLook. They carry frames in a few different materials (plastic, metal and wood/bamboo), and prices seem to vary from about $45-95 USD per pair. They have some pretty good guidelines on how to measure your frames and what shape will suit your face best. They also send every pair out worldwide with Green Shipping, which buys carbon offsets so your specs' travel time isn't adding to your carbon footprint.

Barbarella from BonLook (on sale for only $45!)

Happy Tuesday in Horn from BonLook ($55)

Creme Caramel from BonLook ($55)

If you're living in the States, there's another great online shop to try called Classic Specs. Sadly, they don't ship to Canada yet, but they do have really awesome looking glasses, priced at $89 USD including shipping. They do home try-ons too, and have a pretty slick-looking website—not bad, for the squinty set.
Freeway in Crystal from Classic Specs

Amherst in Gunmetal Fade from Classic Specs

Falmouth in St. Tropez from Classic Specs

"But," you say, "what about frames for the irreverent and slightly jaded?" Never fear, dear reader! Eyebobs caters to you most especially (or so they say). These guys sell reading glasses and sunglasses at $75 USD a pop, so if you've only got a slight prescription, these chic shades might be right for you. Their frames can also be turned into prescription glasses by your local optician.

Kimball frames from Eyebobs

Nudnik frames from Eyebobs

Another online retailer that I have a bit more experience with is Clearly Contacts. I got a pair of Joseph Marc glasses through them a few months ago for super cheap. Like, bought a Living Social deal for half price and waited until the frames were on sale kind of cheap. They are cute, but ended up being way bigger than I had been expecting (but I didn't measure, like they recommend). Oh well—I love them and they'll be perfect for my Twin Peaks Log Lady costume next Halloween.

The shipping was lightening fast at about a week's turnaround, and they sent me all sorts of extras, like a tiny screwdriver kit. Prices range from about $38 CAD to $200+ for some of the designer frames, including Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Persol, Dior and many more. And apparently, if you wear contacts, their prices are some of the best available. I'm partial to their Derek Cardigan line of frames.

Derek Cardigan Cateye frames from Clearly Contacts

Sorry I've rambled on so long, but I really love the glasses hunt! What is your favourite retailer for glasses?


  1. This is perfect! The arm of my 15-month old DKNY frames snapped in half 2 weeks ago, and I've been wearing my spare glasses since. I honestly did not know you could buy prescription glasses online, let alone that they'd be so cheap. I paid $600 for this piece of junk!

  2. I think the new clear glasses are cute and you should wear them more often!!!

  3. Could you tell me the style # of your Cuter and Gross frames?

  4. Sure Debb, they are M:0773 C:GBRG. Can't say enough good things about Cutler & Gross, these are easily the best frames I've ever had.

  5. Thanks for this post. My $700 Ray Bans snapped and the design is discontinued (after only one year!!) so I can't even have them fixed/replaced. What a waste of money. I live in Canada, so Warby Parker all the way.

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