Sunday, 17 July 2011

LIFE THROUGH A LENS


'When was the last time you read a book?' asks Mr Trefusis one evening, 'You used to read all the time.'

'I do read.' I say indignantly, but I know Mr Trefusis is right - I was once a book bulimic, devouring novel after novel, forever on holiday in someone else's imagination. But lately I've found it tiring to read more than a few pages at a time: it's started to take weeks rather than days to finish even a thriller. I've blamed work (too much of), twitter (distraction), Angry Birds (ditto), but really the truth of the matter is as plain as the lines that are springing up all over my forehead: I can't do without my reading glasses. If I try to, even reading Harper's Bazaar becomes too much of an effort, which seems a shame considering it's the magazine I work on.

'Presbyte' says Mr Trefusis, somewhat eliptically, 'that's what the French call you, from the Greek for Old Man.'

And so it is: as confirmed by my optician, I have the kind of long-sightedness that's inevitable after forty, and, although it's helpful of Mr T to contribute to my education by offering me the French for long-sight, presbyte makes me feel as if I ought to come over all Calvinist and start railing disapprovingly about the sin of vanity.

It's no good though: presbyte or not, I still want to look good. I want my reading specs to be fabulous face-furniture, rather than just something practical: I want glasses of distinction. What's more, I want glasses that scream an elegant protest against the presbyte diagnosis - I might be old enough to need them, but I am not so old that I want to entirely relinquish looking vaguely hip and moderately sexy.

The first glasses I bought were the insanely expensive Bulgari pair you see sitting on the laptop in the holding shot of this blog. It's to my shame that I immediately went off them - they're fine, but - you know - they're a bit dull. Realising that it's deeply inconvenient only having one pair of reading glasses, I had some lenses put in a pair of Emporio Armani frames that were discovered unclaimed at the back of the fashion cupboard, but they're also a bit ordinaire. I mean, obviously I'm too grown-up to suddenly go all Hoxton, and sport statement frames like a self-consciously trendy architect or  app developer, but there is a middle ground, surely, and one which doesn't necessitate eating baked beans for a month to afford the bill.

Reader, I think I have the answer - London Retro is a new range of vintage-inspired frames, seemingly designed with me in mind. Ok, that's a little solipsistic, especially when there's enough edge in the range to please my imaginary Hoxton dwelling architect, but really, all boxes ticked - cool and interesting frames and they come complete with single vision lenses for £99 with a second pair free, which seems astonishingly cheap in the context of the Bulgaris. I have Carnaby in red, which have a wonderfully 1980's ad agency feel to them and Camden with a tinted lens for reading outside (have previously felt very foolish wearing sunglasses on top of reading glasses).

London Retro Carnaby in red £99

London Retro Camden in tortoiseshell with a tinted lens-
there's an agreeably Wayfarer feel about them, which kind of reminds me of my yoof, and of the first time I read Money and Brideshead Revisited.


London Retro specs are only available online, but all you do is imput the details of your prescription into the right box and a couple of days later they arrive on your desk, all gleaming and fabulous - kind of like a net-a-porter for spectacles - and despite the price-tag, the quality is at least as good as my existing Bulgari and Armani pairs.


I'm slightly worried now that specs are going to replace shoes as my guilty pleasure - I love the Carnabys, and they definitely suit me, but I do also rather fancy something a bit edgier: these below are next on my acquisition list, just as soon as I've finished all 974pp of Belle du Seigneur to prove that I've really earned them.


 Shoreditch - what do you think? Too cool for school, or could I get away with it, despite my advancing years? Being a bit bookish, I really wanted Fitzrovia, but my face is entirely the wrong shape for that kind of frame.


Of course, what I'd really like now that I've discovered trendy specs is a pair of bifocals - my reading prescription in the bottom so I can see what I'm doing, and plain glass in the top half so I don't fall over when I walk around still wearing them. 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alternatively, you could get a kindle and enlarge the print...

Blighty said...

i am always thrilled to see a new post from you Mrs T and this one was so relevant to me - I am also presbyte, my eyesight was perfect until about 45 and now I am helpless without my reading glasses, and I am never in the same room as the damn things whenever I need them, despite having 3 pairs - they are like buses, they stick together I think. i have a quite trendy Paul Costelloe pair with pink arms but my favourite are the cheapies which I can just stick on the top of my head and pull down without hair entanglement...I recommend the thrillers of SJ Bolton to get your reading mojo back Blightyxx

That's Not My Age said...

I need to get my eyes tested - though I don't have a problem with reading, I can't see the numbers on buses until they get quite close or the electronic signs at Tube stations unless I'm standing right underneath! The Shoreditch glasses would look very fine with blonde hair - I do like that colour frame. I don't read as much as I used to but Mr TNMA is an avid reader and quite old-fashioned when it comes to books - he prefers a hardback! Though he seems to quite like the Kindle I bought for his birthday.

David said...

I've worn glasses all my life - well, since I was 8 or 9 or so, when the only ones available were NHS specs - (I am shortsighted but age now means that is actually reducing, maybe I won't need them at all in a few years). It's really amused me over the last few years to see glasses suddenly discovered as a device of fashion. (Makes it a pain though as there's suddenly too much choice). I'm really not sure that works though. I just want them to be as nearly invisible as they can, so I'm baffled by the trend for thick sides, strong colours and oblong shapes. I see so many people around who vaguely remind me of the Lone Ranger in his mask. Oh well.

Wildernesschic said...

I too discovered that I needed reading glasses exactly the same way.. I was skim reading and my haircuts were not great... Which was not good for repeat business. I also went for expensive designer frames at first but if you are anything like me you tend to put them on your head or leave them lying around and they get damaged. I like the look of these London retro I will check them out.. I have also been known to buy off the peg when I have arrived in London without them.. as price labels are very small xx

Mrs Jones said...

I am SO getting myself a pair of specs from here - http://www.deadmensspex.com/default/vintage-spectacles-by-gender/ladies-vintage-spectacles.html - all genuine vintage specs, all utterly fabulous!

Helena Halme said...

I am passionate about glasses because I've worn them since the age of 18. I have never really got on with lenses, though I occasionally wear to do sport etc. My very, very favourite make is Selima Optique which I used to get from NYC when the pound was still strong against the dollar. Now they stock the frames at Net-a-Porter and they cost a fortune, but I really believe that my glasses are my identity (as shown on my blog picture)...that's what I tell myself anyway.

Helena xx

PS. Being short-sighted doesn't preclude you from also being presbyte (this was a huge disappointment to me) so I now have to wear - shh- varifocals. The shame of it...

MTFF said...

I knew I could rely on you to make reading glasses seem glamorous and aspirational instead of depressing and shameful. These days I mostly hold books at the end of an outstretched arm or do as your first commenter suggested which is not as satisfactory as it might seem - I either feel slightly guilty and embarrassed, like I'm cheating at cards, or as if I'm actually reading a large-print Mills&Boon from the Granny section (maybe I AM!).
Now that you've paved the stylish path I might actually be brave enough to get that eye test and order a few pairs of spectacles. Still slightly concerned I might end up looking like a blonde Sarah Palin or Sue Pollard but I am going to go for it.
xo

Little Brown Bird said...

I had to endure the pain of wearing glasses from the age of 10 when the only choice was NHS or horrible unfashionable frames.

Now I can't wait to buy my new specs. Having let vanity get the better of me in my youth, I love my current Dolce & Gabanna frame.

Dorothy Parker was so so so very wrong.

LBB xx

Margarita said...

The shoreditch pair is fabulous! I wish I could order a pair as well (they don't have international shipping :( )

My eyesight is a thing of constant annoyance as well. Contacts are bothersome, I'm short-sighted but lately have noticed that I have trouble even reading the laptop without glasses.

I have three pairs of eyeglasses and am always looking for more.

Hugh Wright said...

Oh Mrs T THANK YOU, I have for ages now wanted a pair of fab, stylish specs like this at a price compatible with my seeming inability to not lose/break/leave on a train any type of spectacles or sunglasses. My only reservation is the one I have always, Ludd-like had with buying anything online, namely that I can't try it on. But for £99 I may just get over that soon enough!

jongleuse said...

These are lovely. Though presbyopia approaches, I fear (somewhat redundant) vanity may force me to take the Kindle option....

Thea said...

I think we are about the same age. I am still (just) at the "Why is everything in such small print?" and "Why are all lights so dim these days?" stage, but I think I have a matter of months before I succumb.

I think I shall emulate my grandmother, who had a magnificent range of eyewear - "my cooking/gardening/reading/flower arranging glasses", or my great aunt, who has both grand and upright piano glasses.

Minx Marple said...

Lovely Mrs Trefusis, I suspect that the reading glass is imminent in my life. Recently, reading seems a little blurry-edged, and I've begun to detect hesitations at work when focusing my cameras. It's horribly disappointing, as though I've turned to dust before I've actually bloomed.

Herschelian said...

ONE or TWO pairs of reading glasses? oh dear me no, I have a pair by my bed, a pair on my desk, a pair in the loo (for contemplative reading), a pair in the car glove compartment, a pair in the kitchen....and still find myself guddling about saying 'where are my bl**dy specs'. My sight history, like many of your commenters, is poor. Specs from age of four, hard contacts from 15 onwards, severely myopic with astigmatism, then detatched retina, followed by cataracts. Lots of ops at Moorfields, still wear contacts with reading glasses on top. Because I need to have so many pairs vanity has gone right out the window vis a vis frames - too expensive otherwise - and blessings on Costco where I can buy in bulk and not break the exchequer. Ability to read is more important than how they look as far as I am concerned!

Lady Jennie said...

They have the cutest glasses in France - all sorts of colors and designs. I almost wish I wore glasses.

Erica said...

The shoreditch pair is fabulous!

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3limes said...

Totally know how you feel. My readimg only happens when I have pretty glasses perched on my nose. Thanks for the frames tips.

Greedy Diva said...

I DREAM of having glasses to match every outfit, mood and whim. I adore the Shoreditch ones, although they would look horrendous on me. Maybe if I changed my hair....

Get Well Soon Flowers said...

The Kindles are excellent..I loved mine so much I bought my mum one and she loves it, not just for enlarging the print but she has all her fav books stored on it and can take them all with her.