22 hours ago
Sarah Vine: Specs appeal
February 28th 2013
Sarah Vine's eyesight isn't quite what it used to be but she's not letting that get in the way of good style
Is it just me, I thought to myself the other day as I surveyed a new tube of super-miracle-de-wrinkle-double-helix-glow-sexy whatever, or are the labels on these wretched things getting smaller? And harder to read. And why can't they print the instructions in clear black type instead of shiny silver? Then a horrible thought occurred to me: perhaps it's not the labels.
One appointment with the optician later, and my fears were confirmed: I am long-sighted. Optometrically speaking, decrepit. It's only a matter of time before I become one of those batty old dears with blusher on the end of their nose. Plus, of course, I now need reading glasses.
The question of how to "work" a pair of reading spectacles is not one I have ever given much thought to. Owing to my extreme myopia, I ditched my Mrs Mole specs as soon as I could in favour of contact lenses. Rather naively, I assumed that when the time came for me to be long-sighted, it would simply cancel out the short-sightedness. Wrong. I just have both now.
So specs it is. On the plus side, it's a prime style opportunity. There are so many decisions to make. Do I go for one of those "snazzy" pairs, in a jaunty rainbow or animal print in order to show that while I might be old enough to need reading glasses I'm still young enough to do groovy? Perhaps not. Better to go vintage, and have my magnifiers set in fabulous fifties frames, all ironic Miss Marple.
The magnificently named website Dead Men's Spex has all the answers. Here you can buy original frames, mostly from the fifties and sixties, at relatively reasonable prices (around the £40-50 mark). They come in all different colours, and many have wonderful little flourishes; rhinestones, mother-of-pearl or gold detailing, stylised arms. If there is such a thing as a sexy pair of reading glasses, the kind you might wear around your neck at dinner or a night at the opera, they are to be found here. They have some rather fabulous sunglasses too (don't get distracted).
What I love about this site is that Darren, who runs it, was a dispensing optician for 20 years, so he understands eyes as well as style. The frames are all originals, bought up over the years, and he makes the lenses in his workshop from your own optician's prescription.
I opted for a half-moon cats-eye model, which allows me to look down at my knitting (did I say knitting? I meant something much cooler) while occasionally shooting a glance in the direction of the kids or the dogs (whichever happen to be making the most noise) and issuing stern reprimands, Jenni Murray style, over the top of my specs.
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