Menswear

Cheap and Chic Reading Glasses

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For a long time, I thought I’d be able to get away without needing glasses. All my friends and family members eventually needed them, whether just to read or to see clearly altogether. But not me. Then I turned 45. 

One day, about five years ago, I remember trying to thread a needle so I could replace a button on a coat. I couldn’t seem to get a clear focus on the needle’s eye so I could slip the thread through it. It was really frustrating. That same day, I was trying to read the instructions for a new device I had bought. Again, I couldn’t get a clear focus on the microscopic text. 

Then it hit me. Oh, shit. Is it happening? Do I need glasses now?

After a brief panic attack about my new ocular fallibility and cursed middle age, I swallowed a bitter pill of pride and marched across the street to CVS to peruse a dispiriting rack of Foster Grants, cringing at the fact that I was now condemned to reading assistance with one of these tragically designed accessories.

Once I determined the optimum lens strength, I settled on the least offensive pair. I used them freely in the privacy of my apartment and only when absolutely necessary in public. 

I’m not opposed to the idea of glasses at all. Quite the contrary, actually. I think a well-chosen design can be a game changing accent to one’s overall presentation and visual personality. Look at Robert Evans, Swifty Lazar, George Romero, Carrie Donovan… Glasses are fabulous. But I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of money on something I would be repeatedly taking on and off and, therefore, subjecting to loss, like many sunglasses and umbrellas over the years.

One night, when I was out with a group of friends for dinner in Chelsea, a friend pulled out a rather handsome pair of glasses when we got the menus. They looked expensive. When I asked him about them, he told me he they were from A.J. Morgan, a company that specializes in great looking and extremely affordable frames, sunglasses and readers. 

When I went to their website that night, I was blown away at all the handsome and VERY affordable choices. (The very pair of readers I’m wearing as I write this post is the pair I ordered that night.) Over the years since then, I’ve glanced back at the site and noticed that they rotate their collections fairly often, which means my original pair is no longer available. But they keep up the good work with more and more great designs at an extremely accessible price point that ranges from $20 to $50. They’re bookmarked in my favorites.

“Guzman” readers from A.J. Morgan
“Remarkable” readers from A.J. Morgan

Another great resource for not-as-cheap but very chic and well-made readers is Eyebobs. I learned about Eyebobs in a piece Glenn O’Brien had written about this very subject. His approach to readers was like mine in that he’d blown a lot of money on expensive Persol optical frames over the years, converting the lenses to readers, only to lose them in cabs or sit on them:

Then I discovered Eyebobs. They are top quality, sturdy, handsome, and priced so that loss is not heartbreaking. I have many pairs, all the same, saving minutes a day in search time.”

Eyebobs are more expensive than A.J. Morgan, but the quality is truly tip-top as Glenn said, and they come in a broader range of lens options, like plain readers, progressive “All-Day” readers and sunglass readers. They range from $60 on sale to $129 for All-Day sun readers, and several tiers and options in between.

“Waylaid” readers from Eyebobs
“Kvetcher” readers from Eyebobs

Had I known about these handsome, affordable and well-made options for readers when I was trying to thread that needle on that fateful day a few years ago, I could have postponed the gray hairs I earned between my apartment and that depressing rack at CVS. Oh, well. Now I know. 

2 Comments

  1. Welcome to the world of buying shirts and tees with pockets!

    My husband has an assortment of reading glasses, from expensive prescription ones to drugstore finds. He keeps a pair in every vehicle and has extras at work. What I love is that even if we’re in public, like at a restaurant (pre-trumppandemic, of course) and needs glasses but forgot his own, he will use mine with no problem, even though mine range from turquoise-to-leopard-to-rhinestones, sometimes all at once, and generally in some form of cat-eye. Love that man!

  2. And I’m sporting my AJ Morgans as I read this. So.
    Inexpensive enough for me to have left them on planes, in taxis and in handbags I may have long since donated, and sturdy AF! Must check out those Eyebobs. I want to be the Elton John of reading glass owners.

    Xo!

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