Look sharp with a pair of statement glasses – here’s how to find the best ones to suit your face

christopher reeve clark kent
'Christopher Reeve was far more appealing as the bespectacled Clark Kent than he was as Superman', writes Abraham - Alamy

What makes someone ‘cool’? Contrary to what many seem to believe, it’s not a slavish devotion to fashion trends, or an arsenal of designer handbags. In 2024, a cool-factor indicator that rarely misses is bold optical eyewear.

It’s telling because those who need specs wear them a lot of the time - all the time if they’re near-sighted and can’t or won’t wear contact lenses. If you can carry off a pair that’s rather out-there, it suggests you have taste in other aesthetic matters too.

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett is regularly seen in different optical eyewear - Getty

Perhaps that’s why we associate statement specs with ‘serious creatives’: architects, gallery directors, power players in the fashion industry. There’s Anya Hindmarch, who proves that dark frames look just as good on blondes as they do brunettes; Cate Blanchett who is regularly seen in different optical eyewear; Iris Apfel, the 102-year-old American textile designer whose image is inextricable from her signature round specs; Tom Ford, Ryan Reynolds, I could go on… They’re on the catwalk, too, at Miu Miu, Kenzo and Paul & Joe. All of this is an enthusiastic two fingers to any bullies who taunted, “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”.


Murdoch in olive, £135, Finlay & Co.; The Prophet in marigold, from £99, Bloobloom

Stylist Sarah Corbett-Winder, who wears several statement styles in the visuals for her new suiting label Kipper, believes in the idea of a glasses wardrobe. “I could get contact lenses but I have actually chosen not to because I really love glasses. I’ve got about 20 pairs. It’s like deciding on my jewellery, it’s a part of my outfit,” she says. “I know I’m extravagant, but I think lots of people put pressure on finding ‘The One’ frame. Maybe take that pressure off and have two pairs.”

Stylist Sarah Corbett-Winder - Kipper

Gail Steele, co-founder of London optician Auerbach & Steele, agrees: “It is the most visible accessory. It’s in the middle of your face and changes how you look and how you are perceived. Yet nearly everybody only has one pair and they make them last about two and a half years. In 40 years in practice, I’ve never got my head around that. The reply is usually that they’re so expensive. And they’ll have a Gucci handbag, they’ll be wearing Prada shoes, they’ll have a chic coat…”

Going bold comes with benefits, too. You don’t need much makeup to look ‘done’. Or wear anything too outlandish - a white shirt will suffice. You won’t look like you’re trying too hard to look cool, and that, in itself, is pretty damn cool.

Michael Caine - Alamy

Grimaldi in khaki, from £150, Cubitts; Cannonball in two tone brown, £197, Black Eyewear

Then there’s the age-old association that specs make you look, at least on a superficial level, clever, and that’s hot; Christopher Reeve was far more appealing as the bespectacled Clark Kent than he was as Superman.

Of course, buying eyewear can be daunting. Prepare yourself for a lot of trying-on. “Ask a professional to help you,” says Steele. “A wall of specs can all look very similar, and a professional can see the subtle differences. After somebody’s tried one or two frames on, we know exactly how they’re going to fit, so we can guide you towards things that sit in the right place.”

ali wong
Golden Globe winner Ali Wong - Alamy

Steele doesn’t subscribe to any ‘rules’, but it’s worth taking in the following advice: “A frame will look more balanced if the top rim follows the eyebrow,” she explains. “It looks better if your eyes are somewhere towards the centre of the frame than if your eyes are right at the top. Men have straighter eyebrows than women, so a flat rim is more masculine, although there are some women who can really carry it off. With colour, it’s like trying on clothes; some work with some skin tones and others don’t.”

If your local high street options are limited, Bloobloom will send you five pairs to try on at home, free of charge. Virtual try-on tools have also come a long way in the past couple of years - they’re not perfect, but they will help you narrow down options. Cutler & Gross, Jimmy Fairly and Specsavers’ websites all offer this facility online.


Bassano in gold, £240, Monc; Lazer in gold, £315, Moscot

Corbett-Winder actually prefers buying eyewear online and gets her prescription added by her optician later: “I’ve very rarely bought a pair of glasses online that haven’t worked. I won’t buy 10 pairs and send a load back, I just normally know what I like.” If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world to send it back.

One final word of wisdom: bold eyewear is fabulous, and can fill you with joy and confidence - but not if you feel silly wearing them. If you feel like you’re in fancy dress, leave them on the shelf.

Shop more specs...


The Posy, £129, Jimmy Fairly; Cat eye in black on crystal, £380, Cutler & Gross

statement specs
Paul and Jo - Getty
statement specs
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada - Alamy

Londell in buff, £294, Oliver Peoples; Mila in fizz, £140, Ace & Tate

statement specs
statement specs
Zooey Deschanel in TV series New Girl - Getty
statement specs
Miu Miu - Getty

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