Your 5-Step Plan for Finding the Perfect Frames
The pair you choose will define your look. All the more reason to be a smart shopper
Choosing new frames is a stressful sort of fun. There’s a lot to consider—color, style, price. Do they fit your lifestyle? How about your personality? There’s a lot at stake.
It’s hard to know what to prioritize.
For help, enter frame guru Preston Fassel, a former optician who’s currently the eyewear historian at 20/20 magazine. He has foolproof advice that can help even the toughest to please among us find the perfect pair.
Step #1: Do Your Prep Work
You show your hairstylist pictures of haircuts and colors you admire, right? Eyeglasses are no different.
Flip through some ads and Pinterest boards to get some ideas. Just be aware that frames that look great as sunglasses may not work so well as eyeglasses. And vice-versa.
Step #2: Talk Up the Optician
The staff at America’s Best are pros who know their frames. Go ahead, test them.
Ask questions. Let them know if you need new eyeglasses for work, play, or special occasions. If you already wear specs, tell them what you like and don’t like about your current pair. Need to stick to a budget? Now’s the time to speak up.
Most important, share your lens prescription. “Not all frame sizes fit all prescriptions,” says Fassel.
Some prescriptions, like for those who are extremely near- or farsighted, require the edges of the lenses to be thinner or thicker, which may not fit certain frame shapes.
Ditto for those who wear progressive lenses, which allow for near, middle, and distance viewing all in one lens. Such lenses have to be big enough to accommodate each of those vision gradients, which means you can’t go with frames with small lenses.
Step #3: Pick a Side—Plastic or Metal?
Just as certain prescriptions can dictate frame choices, for some customers it may also be important to consider the frame’s material.
For example, if you have sensitive skin and are allergic to nickel, you’ll want a hypoallergenic frame made of stainless steel, titanium, or plastic.
Live near the beach or where it’s often humid? Frames made of beryllium (a steel-gray metal that’s cheaper than titanium) are great at resisting corrosion. Titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum are also good.
If you play sports or are buying glasses for an active kid, frames made of the titanium-based alloy that is more flexible are super-hardy and spring back into shape after getting knocked around.
Step #4: Consider Your Face
Staring at a wall of frames can be a little overwhelming, especially if this is your first time buying eyeglasses. The choices all start to blend together.
Don’t be intimidated. Move in closer and pull the first few pairs that stand out to you. These early favorites say a lot about what looks appeal to you—and will help the optician make informed suggestions.
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to zero in on frame shapes that contrast with the shape of your face. For example, the more angular your features are, the rounder your frames should be. Alternately, the rounder your face, the more angular the frame.
This rule isn’t etched in stone (if you have your heart set on cat eyes, go for it), but many eyeglass wearers do find it helpful and swear by it, says Fassel. Hey, can’t hurt!
Once you’ve found a handful of top choices, pull one or two frame styles that are completely different from the others. While you’re at it, go ahead and grab a pair that seems too “out there” for you (red frames, we’re talking about you).
Why? Because you just never know what’s going to look good on you until you try them on.
“If the optician shares a frame they think might look good on you,” says Fassel, “give it a chance.”
Step #5: Find a Perfect Fit
Sounds obvious, but Fassel says customers rarely factor a comfortable fit into their buying decision.
Before you commit to the one, here’s how to make sure it’s a good fit:
- First, frames should sit on the nose properly. “If it’s a plastic frame, there should be no gap between the bridge of the nose and the glasses,” Fassel says. “If there’s a gap, there’s a higher chance of it sliding down and putting pressure on certain nerves in the nose.”
Metal frames come with nose pads made of plastic or silicone that are easy to adjust and can therefore fit a wider range of faces.
- Second, check for adequate space between the sides of your head and the temples of the frame. A pencil’s width is ideal. Your body, including your head, tends to swell over the course of a day. A snug fit in the a.m. can often turn into an uncomfortable fit by evening.
- Third, the frame should reach a quarter to halfway down the ear. This will allow for just the slightest gap between the nose bridge of the eyeglass frame and your forehead.
- Finally, put the glasses on and smile. You want the frames to stay put.
Your optician knows all of these fit tips, of course, but Fassel says it’s important for you to be aware of what goes into the most comfortable fit. That way you’re completely happy with your final choice before you leave the shop.
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