Once Google Glass hit the streets, we knew it was only a matter of time before monocles experienced a resurgence. It's Newton's Third Law of Fashion: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.
So when some people start wearing computers on their faces, others will move in the opposite direction, donning crippled glasses. Inevitably, the monocle is having a moment. According to the New York Times, the one-lensed eyepiece is a certified "mini-trend."
Is this particular fashion moment one you should take part in? On the one hand, the monocle is archaic, Anglophilic, and even when providing vision correction, characterized by a senseless lack of utility. On the other hand, it's an extreme affectation, a facial prop for men who don't think bow ties are fussy enough.
To help clarify where we ultimately come down on the issue, we've created a new decider.
Welcome to the 4rd Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
THE CHALLENGE: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) or a $125 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's up to you.
To enter simply fill out the form below with the names of the men pictured, and, in the unlikely event of a tie, what they all have in common. One entry per person. USA only. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is Monday, March 31 at midnight CDT.
Q: Hi. You listed some of the American Hustle actors and the sunglasses they wore. Please, if you are able, add the make, model and size of Robert De Niro's glasses to the list. They are fantastic! —William
A: Robert De Niro is wearing Ray Ban Wayfarers in American Hustle. You may have blanked on IDing this iconic frame because:
a. They're not immediately recognizable when used as eyeglasses, somewhat similar to how Christian Bale was as a fat, bald guy, and
b. Since Luxottica purchased Ray-Ban from Bausch & Lomb in 1999, they junked them up with logos on both temples and the right lens, as shown in the middle image above. This frame is the eyewear equivalent of a NASCAR vehicle.
The vintage models, like De Niro's and Tom Cruise's in Risky Business are clean. Get these. And don't hesitate to use them as eyeglasses. The only clear eyewear role reversal failure we've seen is GQ Style Editor Jim Moore putting clear lenses in a wire aviator.
Q: Hey MB: I'm looking for the spectacles Marcello Mastroianni is wearing in the movie 8 ½. Can't find them anywhere, neither the name of the brand. Any clue? Or any look-alikes? Thx in advance.
A: Trying to identify the eyeglasses Marcello Mastroianni wore in 8 ½ is as challenging and inconclusive as the movie itself. The eyewear fetishists at styleforum have been trying to answer this question since 2008 and not only couldn't come to a satisfactory conclusion, they couldn't find a suitable substitute.
And what's with that? At a time when scientists are routinely cloning sheep and exploring the possibilities of bringing back the Pyrenean ibex, you'd think it'd be easy enough to resurrect a pair of extinct glasses, especially when the market is demanding it.
But we digress. Our best guess — with the help of Allyn Scura — is that MM's glasses are a Safilo frame from the early '60s. AS sometimes has it in stock, but unfortunately now is not one of those times. The closest they have at the moment is this French frame from the same era. Contact them if you're interested. And if we get more definitive info on this 50 year-old mystery, we'll post it here.
Welcome to the 3rd Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
The challenge: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) — like The Legend favored by reigning People "Sexiest Man Alive" Bradley Cooper — or a $100 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's entirely up to you.
To enter simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of the men pictured, and in the unlikely event of a tie — this is the hardest contest yet — what they all have in common. One entry per email address. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is next Friday, March 9th.
After bombing at the Oscars, is Anne Hathaway planning to bomb Kuwait?
We ask because, well, look at the glasses she was wearing when she showed up at the Rio premiere earlier this week. They're dead ringers for the infamous "Birth Control Glasses" the U.S. military forced Saddam Hussein to wear after digging him out of his spider-hole.
While we applaud Anne's decision to make a statement with bold, oversized frames, we think she probably should have gone with something a little less war criminal.The second-to-last thing we want to be thinking of when we look at Anne Hathaway is swarthy genocidal dictators. (The last thing? Anne hosting another Oscars, of course.)
Q: I'm a 19-year-old girl looking for the perfect pair of eyeglasses. I generally prefer angular frames to round ones. What would you suggest to be worthy of magnificent bastards? I'm currently wearing these from Elizabeth Arden. Don't judge too harshly, they were affordable. --Kate
A: Kate, we recommend a fuller frame vs. the narrow style like your Elizabeth Ardens; the latter is a little too common and expected. Full, angular frames coupled with a dash of artful dishevelment — as demonstrated by MB crush Suzy Kendall in 1967's To Sir, With Love — make you unpredictable, and possibly irresistible. Dorothy Parker was wrong.
As usual, we recommend starting off at allynscura.com's vintage section and poking around. They just don't make 'em like they used to. If you don't find what you're looking for try Warby Parker's women's frames like the Roosevelt or the Pierce. Warby Parker's frames + lenses are $95 (just 2 bucks more than the EA frames you're wearing now).
Q: I recently found out that I no longer need glasses, but whereas my vision is perfect in one eye, the other could use a +1.5 reader; in other words, I could legitimately wear a monocle. Now ordinarily I'm a big fan of unusual accessories, but is this going too far? --Peter
A: Quick, name two monocle wearers that immediately come to mind. That's right, Mr. Peanut and Colonel Klink. What this says to us is that in the best-case scenario, people might associate you with a jaunty legume if you start wearing a monocle. And in the worst case, they'll look at you and think "Bumbling Nazi!" Our best advice to you? Squint.
"Preston, meet Huxley! Sinclair, meet Wiloughby! Griffin, meet Digby!" No, we're not imagining the whitest dinner party in history. We're imagining the 14 new styles of Warby Parker frames meeting the 19 original ones. Which is an event that's far more likely to happen at, say, Kanye West's house than the whitest dinner party in history. Yes, they're that WASPy.
But if the look is classic midcentury, the sales policy is contemporary Internet retailing at its finest. Pick up to five frames you like and Warby Parker will send them to you free of charge to try on in the comfort of your own home. If you're ready to commit, you can have them made into full-fledged glasses for $95. If you're not, return them to Warby Parker at no charge. What an amazing time to be alive and astigmatic!
One thing we forgot to mention when we launched the contest is that non-Rx lenses are part of the deal. So if you are a recent Lasik patient and just need a pair of shades, you can turn the AS Legend frame into a pair of sunglasses, like Bradley Cooper has done here.
How sharp is your eye? Identify these nine bespectacled MBs and tell us what they all have in common. If you win, your eye -- eyes, actually -- will be looking sharper than ever. That's because we're giving you a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value). Or a $100 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. Play now!
Q: I am looking to find a pair of frames exactly like the style Jack Benny used to wear. I have pretty good eyes but my prescription is for 1.5 progressives as I am a reader and would wear them regularly every day. I see you show him with glasses on your site. Can you help me? --Alex
A: We're not sure of the exact make/model Jack Benny is wearing, but all the major American eyewear companies made a slightly cat eye style like the one shown during that time. The Zyloware Invincible is close, as is the Criss Apollo. Both would work for progressive lenses, and are made of nylon, which is a big deal for daily wearers because they're significantly lighter than plastic acetate. We're big fans of Criss for this reason, and the fact that they're standard-issue U.S. Penitentiary eyewear.
Q: I've been rambling through the web for months now hoping I could find a name and model of the black horn-rimmed glasses the late wonderful Mr. Cary Grant wore. They were so plain yet held their own level of style among the simplicity. What can you all tell me? --T.R.
To our eye, Roccos look not so much like glasses as the theatrical prop version of glasses -- glasses that even the folks in the last aisle of the balcony can see. This isn't to say we don't like them -- just that the degree of difficulty in pulling them off is high. Unless your face is a leading man type itself, they will steal the scene from it every time. And who wants to be upstaged by their glasses?
Q: You seem to really like the aviator style for sunglasses. Do you consider them MB for eyeglasses as well? --John
A: Aviator frames without tinted lenses are like non-alcoholic beer or vegetarian Beefaroni -- they're missing the thing that makes the thing the thing! To illustrate our point, look at Bradley Cooper in tinted aviators (top) and GQ Style Editor Jim Moore in aviators with clear lenses. The former displays classic MB style. The latter, as we've observed in the past, looks like our high school algebra teacher. If you want to stay on the winning side of this equation, leave the clear aviators to Moore and Lumberg, mmm'kay?
Q: I've been trying to find sunglasses like the ones John Lennon wore in this photo. Any suggestions? (Feel free to comment on how great they are as well.) --Zach
A: Imagine there are no designer sunglasses, Zach. It isn't hard to do...
In such a world, even millionaire rockstars wear "P3" frames issued by the government's nationalized healthcare program. And when it's sunny out, they slap on a pair "P4" clip-ons. This, at least, is what our glasses expert tells us Lennon is doing in that pic. While we're dubious about the common-man pretensions underlying the gesture, we can't argue with the aesthetic results. Done right, eyewear layering equals artful dishevelment. The key is to make sure your glasses don't match your clip-ons too closely. If you need more inspiration, see Woody Allen circa 1968.
Q: What's up with Warby Parker? There has been lots of love for them in a few big name fashion magazines, and after crunching my last pair of glasses on a treadmill I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to some of the $250 designer frames at Lenscrafters. Trust me, I felt it in my wallet when the pair or Burberrys I was wearing went underfoot. Anyway to the point, are they MB? Are they quality? Is it a better option than Lenscrafters? --Dennis
A: Dennis, we were tipped off to Warby Parker last month and remain intrigued. Deadstock from Allyn Scura is still our recommendation. Why get vintage-inspired when you can have real vintage? But WP's "home try-on" is irresistable: They'll send you up to five pairs of glasses for a week with a pre-paid return shipping label. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.
Q: Does your 2009 endorsement of retro frames still hold for 2010, because I am looking into buying a pair by Oliver Peoples. --Max
A: Eyewear is the most personal of accessories, so buy what you like. But yes, we're still on the retro frames bandwagon (glasses and especially sunglasses) and always will be, simply because they almost always offer superior styling and value. In fact, the only pair of glasses made this century seen 'round the office are these $49 Criss nylon frames, typically issued to penitentiary inmates because they cannot easily be weaponized. But for those of us on the outside they're both super light and surprisingly stylish.
Q: Around a month ago I watched GQ Rules: How to dress better in 15 days. What caught my attention was Jim Moore's tie and collar buttons.
Is it MB to tie your tie a bit loose just like Jim Moore? Also, I know you are not supposed to wear a tie with a shirt with button collars. What do you guys think? I uploaded a picture here http://i34.tinypic.com/4h3w3m.jpg of Jim Moore just in case you guys haven't watched it yet. --Franco
A: First, it's certainly OK to wear a tie with a button-down collar. Second, this is Jim Moore's version of artful dishevelment and it's definitely endorsable (though the tie width and knot size is not). Finally, one thing we don't get about Jim Moore's look is the eyewear. We're pretty sure he got those at our high school algebra teacher's garage sale.
Q: I really like the glasses Brad Pitt wears in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and was wondering if you knew where to get a pair of similar looking specs. --Michael
A: Pitt's character is wearing an old P3 wire frame (a.k.a. Marshwood). It was at peak popularity in the 1930s and 40s. All the big american frame companies had a version during that time (American Optical, Artcraft, Bausch & Lomb, Shuron), so you will easily be able to find them on eBay or your local antique store. Besides Benjamin Button, Lennon and Truman are among past prominent wearers of this style.
There was enough interest in a recent MB eyewear post that we thought it would be fun to turn it into a contest. See if you can identify the 9 MBs above. Send your entry to email@example.com, and don't forget to answer the tiebreaker question: Besides being dead, what do they all have in common?
The correct answers were provided by Nicholas Swisher, and he even got the tiebreaker question right (they are all born under the sign of Aquarius), and noted the disputed birthdate of Humphrey Bogart. Well done, sir. Enjoy your new eyewear.
Top: James Dean, Paul Newman, Juan Garcia Esquivel Middle: Humphrey Bogart, S. J. Perelman, Clark Gable Bottom: Jack Benny, James Joyce, William S. Burroughs
Q: What's your take on glasses? I'm nearsighted and I wear contacts most of the time, but occasionally I do like to wear my glasses (for the sake of the "look"). Do you have any recommendations on things like frame (metal/plastic), shape (round, oval, square), color (black, brown, etc...), rimless or rimmed, and size? Or should I just stick to contacts? --4Eyes
A: We strongly endorse eyeglasses. They are a great way to accessorize stylishly, or to achieve "the look" as you say. This "look" may even end up defining you, as they have for many MBs throughout history. As far as material and shape and rims, experiment and see what you like and don't like. We almost always end up with vintage eyewear, which you can find at antique stores or our favorite (and we reckon the best) online dealer for new old stock: allyn scura. Tell Scott (the owner) we sent you.
See if you can identify these MBs before looking at the answers below.
Top Row: Salvador Allende, Arthur Ashe, William S. Burroughs, Michael Caine Middle Row: Elvis Costello, Sammy Davis Jr., James Dean, Johnny Depp Bottom Row: J. William Fulbright, Mahatma Gandhi, Philip Johnson, Le Corbusier
She's clearly not a candidate for either bare midriff or jeans tucked into boots. However, Britney Spears makes a strong case for the potential IQ-increasing power of appropriate eyewear. In her case, those frames represent about a 20-point swing.