Through the Looking Glass: How to Buy Eyewear That Will Make A Lasting Impression
Take a look back through history and you may notice that some of the world’s most iconic faces, both on and off the silver screen, have been due, in part, to their signature eyewear. It’s hard to deny the influence that these killer specs and sunglasses have had on culture through the ages. Tom Cruise in Risky Business, Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s — a small example of icons that have been forever immortalized in their eyewear. And those off screen are no different: John Lennon, Bono, Woody Allen, Malcom X. The point is, when it comes to your eyeglasses and sunglasses, what you decide to don can make an impression that lasts much longer than you think. As such, it would only make sense to invest in a pair that does you justice, no?
Not surprisingly, it turns out that there’s still a lot of confusion when it comes to selecting the right eyewear. If it’s anyone that knows this, it’s Ali Badreddine. An award-winning optician, Badreddine takes his craft seriously. Owner of Kaltenbock Opticians, he prides himself on the fact that everything they do is done in-house — as opposed to outsourcing to a central lab like so many others — in order to keep quality control tight and clients happy. Here, he lays down the law on everything you should know before investing in your next pair.
What determines quality when it comes to eyewear?
There are a couple of things. The material that they use is one. For the popular brands, if they’re plastic frames, many of them are injection molded. This means that they make a mold where plastic is then injected into them, and then the frame pops out. Conversely, a better quality plastic frame is actually made from being carved out of a block of acetate.
When it comes to metal, it’s the same thing. A lot of people will ask why their frames are turning green and that’s because they’re made of a copper base, which is not good. The better quality ones use titanium or stainless steel, which are hypoallergenic and won’t oxidize.
What are some questions that a customer should be asking an eyewear expert?
First, the prescription and how well it fits in the frame. If someone comes with a weak prescription, then we can prioritize what suits their face because those lenses can usually fit into anything. Some people have fairly high prescriptions, which will dictate the frame. The quality of the frame and what suits your face are other important factors, as well.
Speaking of face shape, what determines the right fit?
The pupils of the eyes should be fairly close to the centre of the frame and a little bit inward. That is a good fit. Also, the way it sits on your face is important. Flatter bridges will require nose pads while a keyhole would be appropriate for a higher bridge because it provides extra space for the nose to sit in. From an aesthetic point of view, if you have a very short nose, having a keyhole will create the illusion of making it look longer.
Describe some of the new innovations that you are currently seeing from both a design and technological standpoint?
There is always new innovation happening in eyewear. What we’re seeing more and more of now is simplicity in terms of the mechanics of the frame. You won’t see too many hinges or screws. One thing about having them is that the more you have mechanical moving parts, the more things can go wrong. Simplicity is an indicator of things not going as wrong.
What is the general rule when it comes to choosing a frame for your face?
You are trying to offset whatever facial features you have with your frame so that it doesn’t accentuate your face shape. A round face should have a rectangular shaped frame so that it looks narrower than it really is. A more vertical shape will need a round or deeper square.
When is it ok to deviate from this general principle? (this looks awkward on the page. Can you move it to the next?)
When you have more than one pair of glasses. Once you’ve built your general foundation, you can build on top of that and do whatever you want.
Sunglasses are usually discussed in the context of summer, but for winter they’re also important. Is there a difference between those made for the summer or winter?
There’s no difference, really. The most important thing is a good pair of lenses. They should be polarized and be the proper colour for you. For example, if you have fairly dark eyes, you can wear a nice amber brown that enhances everything, which is fine because brown eyes are not as sensitive to light. Conversely, for people with light blue eyes, they would find a pair of amber lenses not dark enough. Instead, a pair of grey shades would be better suited because it really dims down the light.
If anything, it’s more important to get a proper pair of sunglasses in the winter than in the summer. The sun is more harmful during the colder months because of its proximity to earth and the snow, which is why we have such short days. So, the sun is more bothersome and harmful.
Are there any lenses specifically made to help with the effects of technology?
There are coatings that now have a process where the blue light is reflected from our devices. You’ll know when people are wearing them because they have a bit of a blue reflection on them. The biggest problem with monitors is staring at them for a long amount of time, at that one distance. When you look away from it, your eyes get strained and take a few seconds to adjust.
Are people aware that this technology exists?
I don’t think people are, so it’s really up to us to let them know and educate them. Which is where we ask about their lifestyle and what they do for a living.
What are some technical terms that everyone should know?
Polarization is in sunglasses. It’s a true filter that’s laminated between two lenses. What that filter does is it stops all the UV and infrared rays from entering your eyes. It also stops the reflection off of a flat surface towards your eyes. The other term is anti-reflection for eyeglasses where, as you might guess, there are no reflections. It’s like looking through nothing.
What are some unique brands that you would recommend?
Jacques Marie Mage is by far one of our favourite brands because of their quality and design. No one has made these kind of eyeglasses in eighty years. They use a ten millimeter acetate to carve into glasses, seven barrel hinges and sterling silver motifs. It’s quality that I haven’t seen in a very long time.
Shamballa is another brand we just brought in, as well. They’re more towards a rock and roll look with sterling silver motifs, some with gold and others with diamonds. The quality is out of this world. Karl Lagerfeld is a fan.