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What Are the Best Eyeglasses for Women?

Street Style - Day 3 - New York Fashion Week February 2020
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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Like wispy bangs or a cherry-colored pout, a different pair of eyeglasses can dramatically change your entire look. For example, frames in fun hues can add personality to an otherwise staid outfit, while tortoiseshell specs might impart something of a dark academia air. And wire-rimmed glasses are must-haves for the mustachioed men of Brooklyn. For eye-catching and face-framing frames, we turned to bespectacled women for their favorites. And if you’re looking for even more glasses, here’s all of the best eyewear we’ve written about.

Best eyeglasses under $150

Warby Parker was the most-mentioned brand from our bespectacled women, who either own pairs from the brand or wish they did. If you love the look of metal and acetate combined, but want to spend less, consider this pink-tinted, round cat-eyed pair from the company. They’re very similar to the (now sold out) pair that Strategist writer Dominique Pariso bought from the brand’s collaboration with Chloë Sevigny. As Pariso wrote, “As a person who’s worn glasses for 15 years, I can say with some certainty that finding a pair with this particular look that fits my wide face is a rare and precious thing. So when I saw that they were back in stock, I quickly scooped up a second pair for when (not if) I break my first one.” Though the exact pair is no longer available, the Warby Parker Faye frames also have a wide fit, and are available in a rosy finish.

Clear-framed eyeglasses are now considered classics, spotted on everyone from Gigi Hadid to Robert Downey Jr. Photographer Mei Tao wears this Warby Parker acetate-frame pair, which she loves for their low bridge fit and traditional rectangular shape. “The crystal color makes it easy to go with anything I am wearing — and they’re not too overwhelming during a Zoom meeting,” she says. Consistent contact wearer Hailey Rizzo, founder of the blog Feeling Good As Hail, opts for the Chamberlain whenever her eyes need a break. She similarly calls them “subtly bold.” But most importantly, Rizzo appreciates how the frames don’t slide down her nose (especially as her skin is on the oilier side). “My older pair used to leave harsh indents on my nose after wearing them for a bit, but these don’t,” she says.

There was a point in Strategist history where three out of the then-four editors wore wire-rimmed frames — and since then, the style has remained a favorite of Strategist staffers, including former deals writer Leah Muncy. For her, the appeal is as practical as it is aesthetic: “I prefer wire frames over acetate ones because they’re much, much lighter on your face, especially if you require thick lenses like I do,” she says. “Most wire frames are too round or aviator-like for me, but these are slightly squared off, making them more flattering and just plain cool.” Plus, they’ve held up: even with daily wear, there’s not a scratch on them, Muncy says.

I’ve been wearing glasses that slip down my nose all my life — until I tried Covry, which designs eyewear with an elevated fit to accommodate low nose bridges. I love the look of these transparent cat-eye frames accented with tortoiseshell laminate at the corners — they’re outfitted with taller nose pads so they sit high on my face without sliding down or resting on my cheeks, and have held up remarkably well through several years of daily wear. Plus, I’ve lost count of the amount of times strangers have complimented me on them or asked me where they’re from.

Style coach Kim Hancher bought readers off Amazon at the start of the pandemic — when everything was closed — needing something light and inexpensive. She admits that they were pretty ugly, so she went and found this pair from Caddis IRL once stores started to open back up. Hancher got compliments on them right away on Zoom calls. “I think on Zoom calls, less is more, so I try to wear one impact item and keep everything else simple and clean,” she says. “These glasses are my impact item.” Hancher describes them as “kind of bookish, but in a good way — like a sexy nerd.” She bought them in green, her favorite color, but they’re also available in colors like “raw honey” and “gloss minor blues.”

If you’re eyeing readers with blue-light-blocking power, consider Ryan Simkhai, which comes recommended by Jenny Monbouquette, founder of jewelry design studio Monbouquette. She wears glasses daily, and though her exact frames aren’t available, she says the Shea is comparable, with a similar pale salmon shade, square shape, studs on the side, and more matte finish. Monbouquette has a habit of scattering her readers around her house, car, and studio, and says these are easy to find because of their can’t-miss color.

Best eyeglasses under $250

Writer and Call Your Girlfriend podcast host Aminatou Sow was one of the first people that came to mind when we started thinking about cool-glasses wearers — and luckily, Sow was willing to fill us in on her bold round frames’ origin. It turns out that Sow’s are from Valley Eyewear, and she got them during a trip to Melbourne, in a moment of panic after losing her original eyeglasses on the flight. Her hunt to find a glasses store led her to an independent optometrist with a “no-frills” store, where a pair of sunglasses from Valley Eyewear caught her eye. “They were dusty and had probably been there forever but I knew they were the ones. That’s the secret honestly: turn cool sunglasses into regular eyeglasses.” Sow has been wearing that pair ever since, and is hoping to buy a backup sometime: “I love these glasses so much, I email the manufacturer once a year to ask if they’ll make them again because they’re sold out online,” says Sow. Though her exact pair is no longer available online, these Valley Eyewear frames have a similarly mod look.

Cheerie Lane founder Kate Greer says she reaches for these Le Specs frames as an “everyday warrior,” thanks to their neutral color and classic silhouette. They’re “almost affordable enough to buy a backup, but you won’t need one because this French brand has somehow nailed the combo of style, comfort, and durability,” she says.

These frames from Japanese eyewear brand Jins saved me from the rigmarole of buying (and losing) prescription sunglasses. The eyeglasses are equipped with two little magnets embedded at the temples that allow a polarized plate to snap right on over the lenses. I love the subtly flattering pink tint (they come in gray and tortoiseshell as well) and adjustable nose pads that allow them to sit comfortably. But the best feature, in my opinion, is the ultra-lightweight construction — I often forget that I’m wearing anything on my face at all.

Jessy Klein Fofana, founder and CEO of LaRue PR, saw these glasses on Instagram and knew immediately that she needed them. “There is nothing subtle about them, which is what I like,” she tells us. Fofana opted for the two-toned “bullet coffee” colorway — a sort of chocolate shade on top of a caramel hue — which she describes as a modern spin on tortoiseshell. But the glasses also come in understated tones, including a cloudy transparent and glossy black.

Illustrator Alexandra Citrin-Safadi tipped us to this pair that her husband owns from Ottica Urbani. The two found these frames on a trip to Venice a few years back. “Ottica Urbani, as I understand it, is both fairly well known and very much a Venetian thing, but they also have a comprehensive online shop that ships free worldwide,” she explains. He bought them in green, but the glasses also come in a bright red, bordeaux burgundy, and sunshine yellow. “He wears thinner, black-framed glasses every day, so the green ones are his party glasses,” she says. Citrin-Safadi recommends these for those who are “ambivalent about vintage but want something a little more offbeat.”

[Editor’s note: Ottica Urbani lists all its prices in euros, so this is an approximation to U.S. dollars.] 

Once it was clear that Citrin-Safadi needed to wear glasses more often than not (rather when she just felt like putting on a pair), she went to Fabulous Fanny’s in the East Village. There, she spotted a vintage pair from Polo Ralph Lauren with silverish wire frames and tortoiseshell temple tips. The glasses “feel like a spiritual successor to Meg Ryan’s glasses in When Harry Met Sally,” she says. Her exact eyeglasses are listed on eBay, but this updated version is available in both rose gold and silver at Lenscrafters. “The frames themselves are more oval than the squared-off look that was trendy with wire frames a few years back, so they feel a bit more timeless to me,” Citrin-Safadi says.

Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo says that the only place she’ll go for eyeglasses is SEE. “Without glasses or contact lenses I cannot see anything clearly until it is about an inch away from my face, which means my choice of glasses is frustratingly limited,” she says. When Corsillo looks for a new pair of frames, she has to find ones that can support the thicker lenses that come with her prescription — so going frameless or with a delicate frame is largely out of the question. Her current pair, which have clear frames with tortoiseshell stems, are no longer available on SEE’s website, but this pair — sans tortoiseshell stems —has the same shape and comes in a “crystal” shade. “I love them both for style (they aren’t boring, but they go with everything) and wearability (they kinda disappear so I feel less like I am wearing blinders),” Corsillo says.

Under $350

Co-founder and CEO of skin-care label Facile Danielle Nadick Levy says her favorites are these from Garrett Leight, which can be made with blue-light lenses. Levy says she wears the glasses when she works on her computer or phone, “which is now most of the day,” and that the glasses are so lightweight she forgets they’re on her face until she sees herself on a Zoom call. “I think it’s such a timeless style, so I feel good about investing in something that’s going to evolve with me,” she says. “Plus, they’re feminine and kind of sexy.”

When Strategist junior writer Brenley Goertzen was living in the Lower East Side, she would often pop down to Moscot’s brick-and-mortar store to browse the wares. The friendly employees helped her pick out this stylish green pair that she’s been wearing for the past two and a half years. “They feel comfortable over my ears and I love the chunky design. The metal rivets on the upper rims is a nice detail,” Goertzen says, adding that the soft sage color accentuates her green eyes.

Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla, a longtime glasses wearer, has worn all kinds of frames, all of which have been rectangular. But a few years ago, she finally switched it up with these hexagonal Gucci frames, and she says they’re “probably the best glasses [she’s] ever owned. ” The oversize silhouette gives her more space to see, she says; the “oddball” hexagonal wiring is face-framing; and the designer logo isn’t too in-your-face. “They’re the glasses that I feel most myself in,” she says. She loves them so much, in fact, that when she accidentally broke off a nose pad that couldn’t be fixed, she bought a second pair because she couldn’t live without them.

$350 and over

After years of wearing rimless glasses, former Strategist writer Hilary Reid bought these Tom Ford glasses and couldn’t be happier that she made the switch. The rounded cat-eye is a classic shape Reid won’t get sick of in a year, and the tortoiseshell adds a lightness to the dark acetate of the frames. But more than that, Reid loves how she can toss them on her nightstand without worrying too much about breaking or scratching them (something she always worries about with rimless pairs).

Neel van Lierop, founder of Inner Compass, is a wire-frames fan, and says she has this style from Garrett Leight’s collaboration with Ulla Johnson in three different colors. “They’re my all-time favorites; they make me feel confident,” says van Lierop. “They’re classy, obviously present, and accentuate the shape of my face.”

Thanks to Lasik, stylist Jessica Cadmus of The Wardrobe Whisperer doesn’t wear glasses herself. But she does often help her clients pick out their frames, considering their eye color, skin tone, and face shape. Her current go-to recommendation is this Oliver Peoples pair. They’re almost universally flattering, she says, with a not-quite-square-but-fully-oval shape: “There’s something about the modified round shape of these lenses which works with many different face shapes.” She likes them in the transparent shade for most, but mentions that the tortoiseshell will go with almost any outfit, too.

Cadmus also appreciates these frames that feature filigreed metal and acetate. “I love how they evoke the Machine Age but still feel very modern,” she says. “The delicate details like filigree speak to craftsmanship. It also lends a vintage feel, which marries really well with the modernity of the acetate.”

Greer says she chooses these boxy black frames when she’s looking to project “serious person” status. The made-in-Japan acetate is sturdy yet lightweight, and the squared lenses and keyhole bridge will never go out of style. Plus, the “slight tint to the lens ensures that you don’t have to put on makeup,” Greer adds — an extra perk for anyone facing a jam-packed schedule.

Jewelry designer Pamela Love put us on to this subtly cat-eyed pair from Japanese brand Matsuda, which she owns in multiple colors. (They’re only available in dark brown at the moment.) These frames are balanced with titanium stems plated in 22-karat gold, giving the glasses a bit more texture. “They are the absolute best in quality and are the most flattering,” Love says.

Additional reporting by Hilary Reid

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What Are the Best Eyeglasses for Women?