Buying Eyeglasses

Choosing eyeglasses that suit your personality and lifestyle

selection of glasses

Because people generally recognize you by your face, the eyeglasses you choose to wear are a very real part of your identity.

Whether you want to appear sophisticated, fun-loving, youthful, conservative or style-conscious, the right eyewear can help you shape how you are perceived. And if you choose to wear only one pair of eyeglasses for everything you do, that says something about you, too!

What Do Your Eyeglasses Say About You?

Eyeglasses can help people see the real you, or they can help create the image you want. The key is to find the right eyeglass frames to match your personality and lifestyle.

The first step, according to eyewear styling experts, is to consider the different aspects of your life. "What do you really want your eyewear for?" asks Robert Marc, eyewear designer and president of Robert Marc Opticians, a chain of upscale optical stores in New York City. "What are the different activities you participate in? What type of work do you do?"

For different looks to suit the occasion, most people can benefit from more than one pair of eyeglasses, just as they need more than one pair of shoes.

"The same pair of shoes won't take you from a cocktail party to the volleyball court to the beach to the office," says Marc.

Are you a fast-paced businessperson, an active outdoor enthusiast, a busy mom, a retired senior or a student? Are you a creative person, such as an artist or writer?

Or, like most people, do you have a lifestyle that encompasses a number of different activities, interests and personality traits?

To narrow down your choices, consider what eyewear experts suggest in terms of styling, color, material and size for various lifestyles.

Eyeglasses For Serious Business

To help instill trust and confidence among a wide variety of your business clients and colleagues, it's usually best to stay with conservative frame shapes and colors. Consider these choices to enhance your professional image:

  • Classic shapes such as ovals, rectangles and almonds.
  • Traditional colors of gold, silver, brown, gray and black.
  • In plastic frames, no bright colors or unusual shapes.

"Titanium and stainless steel are also good choices, as are rimless and three-piece mountings," says Richard Morgenthal, owner of New York City eyewear boutique Morgenthal-Frederics.

Silver, gunmetal, brown and black are recommended for men because these are easy, conservative tones to wear and match with business suits. Brown, golden tones, silver, burgundy, black and espresso are good selections for women.

Classic tortoise patterns also work well with business attire. For examples of business-oriented frames, please watch the slideshow.

Eyeglasses That Showcase Your Creativity And Fashion Savvy

One way to show your creative, fashionista side is with modern shapes, such as geometric designs in thicker and larger plastic frames. Many modern metal frames also can be creative in appearance.

Today's more fashionable, larger-sized eyeglasses also are an option, as are more unusual colors — such as blue, green and purple.

Multi-colored laminates are another possibility, as are flower patterns and animal prints.

Morgenthal also recommends laser-cut details and finishes for this style of frame because these touches are unusual and very modern.

Another big fashion trend lately is retro or vintage styling. Look for exaggerated takes on frame styles from the '70s and '80s — such as oversized cat-eye and aviator shapes, as well as mod looks from the '60s. For examples of frames that appeal to creative or fashion-minded people, please watch the slideshow.

Glasses For The Modern Baby Boomer Or Senior

Just because you're eligible for an AARP card doesn't mean you have to wear stodgy, old-fashioned glasses. And men: get rid of those giant metal frames that dominate your face!

"Everyone wants to look young and modern," says Marc. He recommends frame shapes that are uplifting for the face, such as upswept rectangles for men and soft cat-eye shapes for women.

Certain colors also can make you look younger. Marc suggests gunmetal, deep browns and burgundy for men and lighter, shinier hues for women.

"Shine adds life to the face for women," he says. He also suggests avoiding silver, black and dark, dull colors, just as hairstylists recommend lighter hair coloring for mature women. For examples of frames that flatter mature sophisticates, please watch the slideshow.

Eyeglasses For Students

Whether you're studying engineering or art, business or French literature, college is a time to develop your own identity — and show off your style.

Without the constraints of a conservative office environment, you have a lot more leeway in terms of eyewear styling, including eye-catching colors and shapes.

Unusual shapes, bright colors, larger sizes and interesting details such as color laminations, all are readily available in a variety of prices and brand names.

Maybe you're interested in a geeky, retro look? A modern frame with lots of color? A sober, intellectual style?

Don't be afraid to express yourself. For examples of frames for college students and other young adults, please watch the slideshow.

Eyewear For The Busy Mom Or Dad

For the busy mom (or dad) on-the-go with little time to worry about the latest trends in eyewear, a basic yet stylish pair of glasses might work best.

Ovals, upswept rectangles and soft cat-eye shapes are very functional and still look great.

Depending on your personal style, you could choose to amplify the fashion effect of a basic shape with details such as jewelry-like metal accents or recognizable designer logos.

Interesting colors such as plum, deep red, soft green and black can also add a fashion edge to a basic frame. For examples of no-nonsense frames with timeless style, please watch the slideshow.

Glasses For The Weekend Warrior

Most adults live dual lives — their "normal" 9-to-5 weekday life and their (usually) more active life on the weekends.

Just as dress shoes are the wrong attire for the gym, your regular 9-to-5 eyeglasses may be the wrong choice for sports and active wear.

For the best comfort, performance and safety during "weekend warrior" hours, choose at least one pair of sport sunglasses, sport eyeglasses or even just a more casual, sports-suggestive eyeglass frame.

Styling can range from wraparounds to more conventionally shaped eyeglasses and sunglasses. Sporty looks can include bright or neon colors, stripes and modern combinations of metal and plastic materials.

An important factor in sports eyewear is the lens:

A knowledgeable optician can help you choose the best eyewear for your sports vision needs. For examples of sporty frames, please watch the slideshow.

Contrary To Popular Belief, One Size Does NOT Fit All

We all like convenience. But the truth is, there are many aspects to your life and personality. And to complement your multi-dimensional lifestyle, you need more than one pair of eyeglasses.

As the fashion-savvy Marc says: "Our customers really wardrobe their eyewear — for the beach and work, as well as for sports and fashion. New eyeglasses are a great way to update your look without buying a whole new wardrobe."

Special thanks to The Vision Council for providing many of the current eyeglass frame photos shown in the slide shows.

A Few Notes About Eyeglass Lenses

Though this discussion has been about frames, here are a few important notes about your eyeglass lenses:

  1. Always choose anti-reflective coating for your lenses. This clear coating eliminates annoying reflections, improves night vision and enables people to see your eyes more clearly.
  2. For thinner, lighter, more attractive lenses, choose polycarbonate or high-index plastic lenses with an aspheric design.
  3. Photochromic lenses that automatically darken in sunlight are a great choice if you spend time outdoors and don't want to always carry a pair of sunglasses with you.
  4. If you're over age 40, why advertise your age with bifocals or trifocals? Line-free progressive lenses provide clear vision at all distances and give older adults a more youthful appearance.

Finally, be aware that you have many choices in eyewear and it can get confusing. Seek the advice of a skilled optician or use one of the many online frame finders  to the find frames and lenses that will help you look and see your best.

Gary Heiting, OD also contributed to this article.

Page updated August 2017