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Shopping: Best Eyewear

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Forget plastic surgery -- a great pair of specs can do as much for your face, and you can reverse the metamorphosis whenever you like. "I buy glasses like I buy shoes," says the actress Betty Buckley. "Funny ones, studious ones, eccentric, pretty, athletic, and an elegant pair or two for the evening." Buckley is partial to Robert Marc (five locations in Manhattan), the exclusive New York distributor of such designer frames as Lunor, Frédéric Beausoleil, and Kirei Titan as well as its own Robi-brand buffalo-horn designs. And for classic cool, it's the only place to find Retrospecs, a line of reconditioned antique eyewear from the 1890s through the 1940s. Acutely aware of the difficulty of deciding on frames, the Robert Marc staff considers it unconscionable to allow you to purchase any that don't suit your face. In fact, it's the one place the actor Peter Gallagher is allowed to shop without his wife: "The people there help me avoid very costly errors," he says.

The smart, understated designs of Oliver Peoples have created something of a cult over the past decade, and the store that opened here last year (366 West Broadway; 925-5400) is the only place outside L.A. to see the grand collection in its entirety ($175-$335). Helen Hunt has certainly earned a prominent position at the Peoples clay table with her 30-plus pairs. "I'm obsessed," she explains unnecessarily.


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