After work one day, I took a taxi to the Old City section of Philadelphia and instructed the driver to stop in front of Margot & Camille Optique. Upon entering the cozy boutique, I was warmly greeted by Valerie Vittu, Optician and Eyewear Image Consultant, formerly of Alain Mikli on Madison Avenue in New York City. Her boutique has an upscale feel, with artistic flourishes – like its saffron-hued walls and artfully displayed merchandise.
What I expected to be a 20-25 minute conversation turned out to be an hour and a half tutorial. In a frenetic French accent, Valerie schooled me on how to choose the right pair of sunglasses. It isn’t an exact science, she explained. A certain face shape plus a particular frame shape does not necessarily equal your perfect pair of shades. If I learned anything from this former sculptor turned optician, it’s that choosing a flattering pair of sunglasses is an art.
Obviously, the process involves a good deal of trial and error. It can be as confusing and frustrating as finding a pair of jeans or the elusive “perfect” swimsuit. But with a few tips, you can narrow the scope of your search and make the process much easier – and fun!
When shopping for sunglasses, consider the following factors:
When it comes to sunglasses, one size does not fit all. Oversized shades may be very on-trend right now – but what’s seriously stylish is wearing a pair that works with the proportions of your face and body. Sunglasses that are too big will swallow you up, and make it look as though they’re wearing you…too small, and people will think you beat up some poor little girl and stole her shades. You wouldn’t squeeze your size 10 derriere into size 2 daisy dukes. The same idea applies to your eyewear. But on the flip side, sunglasses that offer more coverage do a better job of protecting the delicate skin around your eye area.
Sunglasses should fit comfortably on the face. If they pinch the temples or pull on the ears, put ’em back on the shelf. An ill-fitting pair, no matter how cute, is just going to give you a headache. If you have a low nose bridge or none at all, you should probably gravitate toward glasses with nose pads. How can you tell if you fall into this category? If there is a gap where the glasses sit on your nose, you’re a candidate for nose pads. I fall into this category.
Stay in the same color family as your complexion and hair, and the effect will be neutral. You can also play with color to accentuate certain features or downplay imperfections. To highlight lips, for example, choose a frame or lens with rose tones. If you have olive skin or visible veins, stay away from green tints. If you have a ruddy complexion, counteract the red with blue tints.
If you’re going to get prescription sunglasses, don’t concern yourself with the lenses – because they will be removed. Otherwise, you might want to ask the optician or salesperson about different lens features. I have a personal prefence for polarized lenses, which help to reduce the glare created when light bounces off of some objects, such as water, highways and other similar surfaces. Here’s a cool trick that Valerie taught me: to see if lenses are polarized, hold sunglasses in front of a computer screen. Then tilt them sideways, on a 45 degree angle. The lenses will appear opaque black. Pretty cool stuff, right?
Don’t be misled into thinking that dark lenses offer higher UV protection. The UV coating on lenses is clear, so tint has nothing to do with UV. What is especially dangerous, Valerie warned, is to buy darkly tinted sunglasses that offer no UV protection – because the pupils are wide open and especially susceptible to damage. The FDA recommends you purchase sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation. The sticker should read either UV 400 or 100% UV protection.
You might be tempted to go cheap, but a quality pair of shades is actually a sound investment. When you buy inexpensive sunglasses, you treat them like inexpensive sunglasses. You haphazardly toss them into your purse without a case, accidentally sit on them and warp the frames, or flat-out lose them. When you invest in a good pair of glasses, you handle them with care and keep tabs on their whereabouts. Valerie asked me, “How many Bic pens do you own and where are they?” She added, “You don’t know and you probably don’t care. But if you have a Montblanc pen, you know where it’s at at all times.” Valerie speaks the truth, y’all.
Finally, it’s important to take your personality into account. If you are athletic, you might want to look for sportier styles. Glamour girls might want to consult magazines before buying. As an optician, Valerie is committed to helping a customer select frames that reflect her identity and the way she wants to be perceived. And it’s always a good idea to take a family member or girlfriend with you – someone who will tell you the truth. “Make sure she’s honest, and not jealous,” Valerie joked.
This week, Margot & Camille Optique schools us in art of sunglasses…and they’re also spoiling you pretty with two fabulous giveaways!!!
One grand prize winner will receive these limited-edition Etnia Barcelona N°00 sunglasses* – these babies retail for $295! And two readers from the Philadelphia area will win a $50 gift certificate* to Margot & Camille Optique!!!
To enter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name – and local gals, make sure to indicate that you live in the Philadelphia area. The subject line should read “Sunglasses Giveaway.” The contest ends at midnight (EST) on Sunday, July 6th. One winner and two runners-up will be chosen at random from among the entrants. On Monday, July 7th, I’ll announce the winners names. Please, only one entry per person; duplicate entries will not increase your chances of winning. Contest is open to U.S. & Canadian residents only.
*No returns and no exchanges on the sunglasses or gift certificates.