How to Build an Eyeglasses Wardrobe on a Budget

Owning more than one pair of glasses doesn’t have to be a splurge. Here’s how to get more for your money.

Building an eyeglasses wardrobe doesn't have to break the bank. Woman in stylish frames.

Decisions. Decisions. With so many styles to choose from, it’s not easy to settle on just one pair of prescription eyeglasses. 

So don’t. Think of your eyewear as an accessory—like jewelry or shoes. After all, you wouldn’t wear stilettos to a sporting event or slippers to a business meeting. So why limit your eyewear to just one pair? 

“Glasses are more than a style statement,” says Heather Klatt, director of retail operations for America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses. “As we multitask through our days, it’s not always possible to rely on just one pair. Your vision needs may warrant owning multiple pairs.”

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Whether you want to switch up your look or need different frames for different activities and tasks, we have the tips you need to build an eyeglass wardrobe—without breaking the bank.

Tip #1: Make Sure Your Prescription Is Up-to-Date

If yours is more than a year old, you’ll want to book an eye exam. An up-to-date Rx, one that takes into account any changes to your vision in the past 12 months, will ensure you don’t spend money on a frame and lens combination that no longer works for you. 

Vision changes can occur at any age. For example, if you’re over 50 and struggling to read the fine print, your eye doctor may encourage you to try a progressive lens or give you a new prescription for reading glasses

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Tip #2: Think Function, Not Just Form

Think strategically and prioritize frame selection based on your immediate needs. Include styles that make you feel good when you are wearing them but are also designed to help you see better during specific tasks and activities.

Let’s say you’re a college student cranking out research papers. You might want to choose one pair for getting around campus and hanging out with friends and a second pair for computer work

If you don’t need glasses for different tasks, consider picking up one plastic and one metal frame so you have a couple of different looks to swap throughout the week. 

Another common place to start your eyewear wardrobe is to grab a pair of prescription sunglasses. Even if you opt for a UV lens coating on your daily pair, Klatt says, prescription sunglasses are great for those days when you’re spending a lot of time outside. 

Tip #3: Put Quality Before Quantity

It’s fun to think of your eyewear as an accessory for your face, something that highlights your features and enhances your look, but it also has an important functional purpose, and that is to help you see better. 

You may be drawn in by a bold color or rhinestone detailing on a frame’s temple design, but it’s also important to consider the overall durability of a pair of eyeglasses. 

“Good-quality ophthalmic eyewear doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Klatt. But it does have to fit properly, be comfortable to wear, and hold up to everyday use. 

Look for hinges that open and close smoothly, frames that feel sturdy and well made, and lens treatments, such as an anti-reflective coating, that will enhance your view—no matter what your budget may be.

Tip #4: Pace Yourself

Reality check: You’re not going to be able to build a killer eyewear wardrobe overnight.

“Start with what you need most and then build up from there,” suggests Klatt. 

Once you have your basics covered, save up your pennies, and in a few months come back to the shop and have fun with your choices of shape, color, and materials. 

“A well-rounded eyewear wardrobe should include frames you pull out to express a different side of your personality,” she says.