Wearing Fun Glasses at Work

fun glasses at workDo you wear “fun glasses” to the office, either as a hipster statement or geek chic? Would you consider a bright and wacky pair of glasses for work, or do you try to stick to brown, gray, or metal frames? Do you judge colleagues if they’re obviously wearing Warby Parkers or “cool kid” glasses? Some readers used to joke that thicker-framed, geek-chic frames were birth control glasses — do you still think of certain styles like that? Do you switch glasses up based on your mood and outfit (treating them as jewelry or an accessory), or do you have functional pairs, like “important meeting” glasses or “working alone at office at night” glasses?

We’ve talked about some of my favorite spots for buying glasses online — I’m still addicted; I just got my first pair of Warby Parkers and another two pairs from GlassesUSA — but we haven’t talked about the propriety of geek chic glasses at the office in years. So let’s discuss.

I still wear contacts for meetings, events, nights out, etc. — but after my cornea issues a few years ago I’ve pretty much been wearing glasses the rest of the time. Because I tend to wear a lot of neutral colors (black, navy, gray), and have pretty blah coloring (brown hair, brown eyes), I tend to gravitate to fun glasses that bring some color to my face. At any given moment I like to have 3-4 pairs of eyeglasses to switch around; I started viewing them as disposable things after my kids destroyed a few pairs. (It’s soooo cute when a baby starts playing with your glasses — until they break ’em.) I’ve had some hits and I’ve had some misses ordering glasses online — once, I got two very similar glasses at the same time from the same store, and one was great, and the second pair gave me a headache every time I wore them — but I’d say it’s about 80% success, which keeps me going back because I like the price, convenience, and variety. Plus, like I mentioned in my roundup of online eyeglass shops a few years ago, almost all of them have a solid return policy.

The pros to switching frames: It’s easy! It’s fun! There are varying levels of comfort to glasses, too — I always have a set of metal frames that I call my “grandpa glasses” and are perfect for, say, falling asleep on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. My favorite pair of fun glasses is a blue plastic pair that keeps falling off my face; those are generally my “I didn’t have time to put contacts in but want to look nice” glasses. I just got a pair of flexible frames from GlassesUSA (this pair) that are nice and tight on my head, so those will probably be my more active glasses. If you have a dog (or, hey, a kid) at home, it can be helpful to keep your “good pair” at the office — a girlfriend once bought a pair of very expensive glasses from Morgenthal Frederics that, if I recall, had bone frames — and her dog ate them within a week.

The cons to switching frames: The downside to wearing different glasses styles is that you can lose a certain element of predictability with your look; it can be disconcerting to some people  if you switch them up often because, unlike jewelry, they are a huge part of your appearance. (I know I’ve worked with a few older gentlemen who — particularly when interns come or a flood of new associates — would get totally confused if the same person wore different glasses or otherwise made big changes to their appearance on the regular.) So if I were working with a big group of people whom I didn’t necessarily see a lot (like a multi-hundred person firm) or a group of older people (like, say, partners in my old firm), I probably would choose more conservative eyewear rather than fun glasses, at least in the beginning.

What about you, ladies? Obviously this is a “know your office” situation, but I’m curious — how do you approach eyeglasses? Where are your favorite spots to find them, how do you feel about “fun” colors? For those of you who wear readers occasionally, is it a different equation for you for your readers?  (And, I suppose, as summer and outside work events come closer, what are your thoughts on some of the more fashionable/alien sunglasses (e.g., Dior or Linda Farrow) — unprofessional? too personality-statement-y?) 


  1. Considering I have to go $500-600 out of pocket for a pair of glasses (I need the super-thin lens material), I have one pair at a time and it is always neutral (I’ve gone from black-wire-rims, to black plastic, to now tortoiseshell plastic). My next pair may well be navy considering how much I wear it. (Side note – why are vision plans so universally useless? I guess the *exam* is covered, but what good is an exam without the glasses themselves? I’d happily skip having an exam every year, as my prescription doesn’t change that much, in exchange for better coverage of the actual glasses/contacts.)

    Anyway, “fun” glasses (I’m not counting Warby Parkers and similar as “fun,” as the plastic “nerd” styles have now been popular for so long that I wouldn’t think twice about wearing them to work) aren’t really worn by the attorneys I’ve worked with — thinking back through my colleagues, it seems more common for the self-proclaimed “wacky” HR person, assistant, etc. to have funky glasses that are purple, pink, red, cat-eye, etc.

    • Anonymous2 :

      On Vision insurance plans – most are by calendar year. In that case I do an exam on 12/31/16 (or closest to that) and then buy the glasses on 1/2/17 the next year so they are different calendar years. Then you can put off the next exam until the next January. Not a perfect solution obvs.

      Also, I invariably use my pre-tax flexible spending account for costs above what insurance pays.

      • Yeah, I use my FSA funds to purchase my glasses, but it’s still a lot! Sadly the plans at both current employer and past employer covered an exam annually, but it wasn’t a choice of exam vs. lenses so I couldn’t pull the calendar year trick you are able to do — I think I get maybe $100/year for a combination of frames and lenses (and contacts), which of course is only a fraction of my costs!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      My insurance covers the exam, most of the cost of the lenses, and a very limited selection of frames. Of course I hate all the free frames. My insurance comes through my husband’s union and we don’t pay for the coverage outright. I don’t think I’d bother getting it if we had to pay premiums.

    • lucy stone :

      My employer recently started offering VSP vision insurance. It’s great! I think I pay about $8/month for myself and my husband, the employer pays nothing, and I’m saving tons on glasses. I am legally blind without correction and obtained two pairs of Furla frames that I love from Costco for about $400. I was previously paying close to $1000 per pair from Lenscrafters so I was super happy with this.

    • Anonymous :

      My VSP insurance pays for the exam and part of the cost of contacts or glasses. I think I get $150 or $200 per year for glasses/contacts. Since that’s already more than I pay for the plan, I consider it a win

    • Why not get warby parkers? Their prescription lenses are like $99 bucks. I took my HSA money and went buck wild (a conservative pair and a trendy pair)

  2. I recently replaced my dark frames with a cranberry/multi-color pair. They seemed like a wild choice when I ordered them, but now they just seem fun and flattering. I was planning to wear the old pair on “serious” days (meetings, etc.) but I’ve gotten so many compliments that I just wear the fun pair all the time.

    • In the Pink :

      I got a Tiffany pair and they have turquoise inside … very pretty, very pricey, but to switch out from my rimless, very nice. Wish they didn’t day “Tiffany” on the earpieces, no matter how discretely done …

      It’s just too expensive to buy frames AND my pricey progressive, lightweight lenses as my eyes still change yearly … le sigh, I often wish I could though.

    • Anonymous2 :

      I got pair that look like studious black frames from the front but have metallic pink on the back of the frame, so the pink only flashes occasionally – love them a lot.

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    I guess my glasses are considered geek chic. I’ve worn dark plastic frames for years. At this point anything less obvious makes me feel like I look weird.

    I find glasses to be the most difficult thing to buy. It can take me hours to pick frames. I should have bought extras of my old favorites because they aren’t made anymore. I’d do that for my current pair if they weren’t so expensive. If I could pick frames easier I might switch it up day to day. That’s just not workable for me though.

  4. I’ve been wearing my reading glasses more and more so can see buying more fun pairs in the future.

  5. Marshmallow :

    I have three pairs of Warby Parker frames, which I rotate along with my contacts depending on outfit/mood/formality of my schedule for that day. One is dark purple in the front with dark green sides; second is kind of a navy marbled swirl; and third is a dramatic tortoiseshell, very light colored. The first two I only wear for casual days, but I have worn the tortoiseshell for all manner of client meetings, depositions, whatever. They do make a statement but I think with neutral makeup it’s professional. I would not wear the purple frames to something like that.

  6. Diana Barry :

    My glasses are also $$$$ and the cheap ones aren’t made as well (my Warby Parker rx was never quite right!) so I just pick what I think I will like to wear for 1.5-2 years.

    • The manageing partner has me wear these granny glasses to court b/c he wants me to look older in front of the judge, even tho I told him that the judge does NOT like me to wear my hair in a bun, and tells me how and where to stand when addresing the BENCH. So b/c there is only clear glass in the lens, I made the manageing partner go with me to pick out and pay for these glasses, which I ONLEY put on inside the court. I never wear them anywhere b/c they are useless and make me look older. FOOEY! I think there will be plenty of times when I do get older that I will have to wear glasses, so why now? Just b/c the judge likes it? DOUBEL FOOEY!

      • Every single one of your comments is either annoying, offensive, or creepy.

        • Yeah, I hate the whole Ellen persona. It always surprises me when people think it’s funny.

          • It’s not. It reads like disgustingly awful Daddy/daughter erotica with a side of being extraordinarily offensive.

  7. For years I had thin framed glasses and I just hated the way they looked so I never wore them in public – they were strictly a contacts out at night straight to bed thing (probably didn’t help that I would never get the prescription updated because I never wore them because I didn’t like them, so I never got the prescription updated…you can see how it would be cyclic). But the most recent pair I bought, about a year ago, are black plastic and I just like the way look on my face so much better and actually wear them now. I don’t know that I’d buy multiple pairs to go between just because I don’t want to pay for them, but I might consider a second pair in a “funkier” style now that I actually wear my glasses more.

  8. I currently wear one contact — so I use that eye for distance and the other for reading — one of the best decisions I ever made. I don’t get headaches all the time and don’t constantly look for my glasses. I love the Rachel Maddow hipster glasses look but can’t pull it off and have worn small, square wire rims on my round face. My favorite pair — which I’ve lost, sadly — were a very dark purple. I wore them for formal work things; I think the color was flattering but muted enough not to be too attention-getting or crazy.

    (After I started wearing the contact, a hearing officer at a federal agency I deal with all the time commented that I wasn’t wearing glasses any more, and I mentioned the mono-vision thing and how well it’s working for me. He said that’s good, but that he thought the cute little purple glasses I used to were were great. This was said in a non-creepy,non-offensive way, and I have always found him more attractive than an HO should be, so, hey, it was nice to know someone was noticing.)

  9. Meg Murry :

    I think you can get away with a lot more “fun” on the frames if the frames themselves are thin and the lenses aren’t overwhelming. For instance, I almost always stuck with plain black, gold, silver, tortoiseshell, etc. Then one year I went to pick out new frames and forgot my contact lenses, so I relied heavily on the advise of the person doing the fitting (the assistant optometrist? not sure of title – someone who knew what they were doing but wasn’t an optometrist herself). She helped me pick out a pair I thought I liked, and when I actually picked them up I was surprised to discover they were pinkish toned, leopard print and had little sparkles – but all of these were so subtle and the frames were so thin that unless you were close enough to my face to kiss me, none of these things were noticeable – from a normal standing distance away they just looked like a slightly rose-gold toned metallic.

    Ever since then I’ve gone for frames that have details that just kind of blur into “neutral” when held at an arms length away, but have subtle fun details when held up close that only I would notice – like the inside of my current frames is a light purple and my previous ones were had a turquoise layer, but anyone looking at me can’t really see that. I also have one of those prescriptions that are $600 just for the lenses before you even get into the frames, so I don’t even consider how much the frames cost (the $50 vs the $200 ones) for the most part since that isn’t the expensive part of the equation. I do try to avoid overly trendy frames though, because I know that if my current pair get broken I’m back to wearing my previous (now 2-4 year old) pair for at least a few weeks to months.

    Relatedly – has anyone ever been able to have previous lenses repaired? My old glasses frames are in fine shape, but the lens is super scratched up (I think it’s the anti-glare coating). I am curious if there is a way to fix those scratches so I could have my old glasses as a backup pair in case my current ones get broken.

    • lucy stone :

      My husband had lenses replaced for maybe $100 in his old glasses for exactly this reason.

    • I doubt you would be able to get the coating repaired but you can just get the frames reglazed.

  10. I like the way that fun frames look when it’s the right pair, but my husband (who is totally neutral/supportive of things related to my appearance) hates them on me. Whe I’m wearing them, he says that all he sees is GLASSES and not my face (and he’s asked me to please take this as a compliment that he really likes my face and wants to see it). Also, does anyone else find that they look horrible in big geek-chic type glasses? I’m petite and have a roundish face, and unless it’s exactly the right pair, fun glasses can look like they’re eating me alive. I now have an innocuously sized, thin metal framed pair with a cool lens shape.

    Finally, a gripe…why are glasses so branded? I struggled to find a pair that didn’t have a really prominent brand or logo on the side, and super thin frames seemed to be the only solution. Since I wear glasses almost daily, I hate that a brand essentially would become part of my face.

  11. My prescription is hefty enough, but not so bad that I can’t get a whole pile of different frames from Zenni. I think I’ve got about a dozen at the moment, plus my insurance assisted Marc Jacobs pair. (Which is a perfectly bland and acceptable tortoiseshell, although definitely in the geek chic style.) And with Zenni, I can get a selection of different RX sunglasses, which is utterly lovely. If I want to look like a real professional, I’ll wear the nice ones, but if I want to put some interest into my outfit, I’ve got a whole selection of colors and styles. And they’re cheap enough that I don’t feel at all bad if they break.

  12. I consider myself in “glasses training” now. I’ve always been slightly nearsighted, but not enough to correct. Now in my 40’s, it’s getting worse, so I got cute glasses and wear them 2-3 days/week to get used to the feeling.

    The frames I chose are definitely geek chic – black plastic cat eyes – but I like to think they work well on my coloring and face shape. I get a lot of compliments on them, and have started making a point of wearing them for big meetings. I don’t wear makeup, but the glasses add a layer of polish and intention to my look.

  13. Red is a neutral when it comes to glasses.

  14. I get my reading glasses from readers.com . I tend towards cats eyes, in bright colors, with rhinestones. I am a financial software consultant and dress in a very conservative fashion.

    I’ve had glasses since kindergarten, and contacts since the age of 15. I’m 49, and have been wearing reading glasses for several years. I refuse to ‘suffer in silence’!