The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Looking Great and Saving Money: Picking the Best, Most Attractive Eyeglass Frames for You

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Marilyn Monroe wearing glasses in 1953 film How to Marry a Millionaire

Marilyn Monroe wearing glasses in 1953 film 'How to Marry a Millionaire'

Investing in a pair or two of eyeglasses can be wincingly pricey. No longer are eyeglasses expected to merely improve vision. They are now considered a fashion accessory, often with high-priced designer price tags. Picking the frames that are most attractive for you has nothing to do with the price or whose name is etched on the earpieces.

Knowing what style and shape frames work best for you—based on your face shape, your eye color, your skin tone, and your hair color—will help you make an informed decision that you'll be happy with for years to come. Eyeglasses are not only a blessing for those who need corrective vision, but an accessory that makes a statement as a part of your face every day.

Picking the perfect frames can make a huge difference in your self-esteem. A pair of glasses that complements your face shape and coloring helps you feel sophisticated, polished, youthful, and even sexy about how your face looks. Most people appear "smarter" when wearing glasses. However, wearing an ill-suited pair of frames can have the opposite effect, making you feel and look dowdy, cloddish, and/or older.

Frugality is always important, but not to the point that you feel compelled to suffer "Eyeglass Frame Hell" with ugly glasses. It's a delicate balance.

Here are some valuable tips to help you pick the right glasses and avoid making costly mistakes.


Cost of Eyeglass Frames

Designer frames can cost $400 or more. Simple non-designer frames can cost less than $50. What's going on here?

Remember, many opticians are doctors who also happen to sell eyeglasses, and may or may not care how much you spend on your frames, as long as you're happy with your choice. However, others understand the profit margin in selling high-end frames, which can bring in double or triple the amount of the eye exam and lenses. Ask for advice from the optician or his or her assistant on frames, but it's wise to also bring a candid friend or family member with you when you're selecting frames if you're insecure about making your decision.

Some opticians may carry a larger selection of expensive frames and a small selection of modestly priced frames. If you don't see a pair that suits you and is within your price range, go somewhere else to buy your frames. Online frame purchases are becoming more popular, as they can be cheaper. Inventory can be limited, but shopping late at night in your jammies makes the hunt less painful.

Before you ever head off to the mall, or boot up the computer, to find and buy your perfect pair of glasses, determine your budget and stick to it. Granted, designer frames tend to be more fashionable and often use more expensive materials, but non-designer frames can be attractive and work well for you. The markup on designer frames is in proportion to the name recognition of the designer, and has less to do with the actual cost of producing the frames.

Some frugal information from Bub Hangra USA... How to Purchase Cheap Eyeglasses Online:

It is now a trend that more and more vendors are starting to operate and sell their goods online. More and more consumers are also likely to purchase online. Cheap eyeglasses are among the goods that are most popular. is the best site online where you can find Lowest Price Progressive Glasses. According to Eric’s Review of Zenni Optical, is the The #1 online Rx glasses store.


Celebrities Wearing Glasses

From L to R: Actor Kevin Harris ('Glee'), actor Eddie Murphy ('Beverly Hills Cop'), actor Simon Baker ('The Mentalist')
From L to R: Actor Kevin Harris ('Glee'), actor Eddie Murphy ('Beverly Hills Cop'), actor Simon Baker ('The Mentalist')


From L to R: Actress Jennifer Garner ('Alias'), singer Alicia Keys, actress Rachel Harris ('The Hangover')
From L to R: Actress Jennifer Garner ('Alias'), singer Alicia Keys, actress Rachel Harris ('The Hangover')


Composer/singer John Lennon, three different photos of him wearing his famous round wire-rim glasses
Composer/singer John Lennon, three different photos of him wearing his famous round wire-rim glasses


Composer/singer Elton John, over the years with his distinctive, flamboyant array of eyeglass frames
Composer/singer Elton John, over the years with his distinctive, flamboyant array of eyeglass frames


Frame Shapes for Your Face Shape

Eyeglass frames should complement your face, not overpower it. Choose frames that are the same width as the widest part of your face, or slightly longer than that.

Frames with shapes different from the shape of your face are the most flattering. That may not seem logical, but it works. If your face is square, for example, round or oval frames will look best; if your face is round, those that are square or rectangular will be more attractive. Also, look for frames that match the size of your face. Don't wear large frames if you have a very small face and vice versa.

Basic face shapes include oval, round, oblong, diamond, base-down triangle, heart (base-up triangle), and square.

Optical illusions can be created to downplay or emphasize facial features. For instance, a dark-toned bridge will make a wide nose look narrower. Frames with light tones in the center that darken at the edges will make close-set eyes appear wider, as will decorations on the outer edges of frames. Round frames in lighter colors tend to balance and soften a wide forehead. Diamond-shaped faces look best when frames have detailing or distinctive brow lines to soften the cheekbones or the frames are rimless in oval and cat-eye shapes.


Face Shapes & Eyeglass Frame Shapes
Face Shape Description Frame Shape Suggestion
Oval Oval faces are easy to balance out and look good in most styles of eyeglass frames. Mostly balanced proportions of all face shapes, with chin slightly narrower than forehead and high cheekbones. Typically, frames that are as wide or wider than the widest part of your face look best. Square, rectangular, and geometric shapes are good choices; avoid frames that are too large.
Round A rounder face has an equal width and length and is characterized by soft curves with few angles and usually a rounded chin. A round face looks thinner and longer when you wear eyeglasses that help lengthen and narrow the face. Look for frames that are wider than deep. Rectangle style frames often look the best. Avoid round frames.


Oblong If your face is long and thin, with angular features, high cheekbones, a longer nose, and/or a tall forehead, your face is oblong. Frames that provide more depth from the top to the bottom can balance things out. Broad frames that add width to your face, perhaps using decorative features, may also work well for balancing your face shape. Avoid short frames that accentuate face length.


Diamond Diamond-shaped faces are narrow at the eye line and jawline, and have broad cheekbones that may be high and dramatic. This is the rarest of all face shapes. To highlight your eyes and soften the cheekbones, try frames that have detailing or distinctive brow lines, or choose rimless frames with oval or "cat-eye" shaped lenses.


Base-down triangle A base-down triangular face has a narrow forehead and wider cheek and chin areas. To add width and to emphasize the narrow upper third of the face, frames that are heavily accented with color and detailing on the top half or "cat-eye" or "butterfly" frame shapes are good choices.


Heart (base-up triangle) A heart-shaped face is characterized by a wide forehead, narrower jaw line, high cheekbones, and a narrow chin. If you have a heart-shaped face, you should look for rimless frames or those frames with "cat eye" or "butterfly" features. These shapes help balance your jaw line and cheeks and provide an interesting and dynamic contrast to your face. Some frames can exaggerate the widest point of a heart-shaped face, so try to avoid frames that are decorative at the top or that are wider at the top than the bottom.


Square A square face typically has a strong, deep forehead and prominent jaw line that are about equally wide. Narrowing your features using narrow frames will tone down the sharp lines of the face. Round frames are perfect for creating curves and softening square or angular faces. Narrow, oval shaped lenses or those that are wider than they are tall are excellent choices for a square face. Frames should be more horizontal than vertical.



Frame Colors That Are Best for You

Chanel gold-topped glasses, distinctive retro-look frames for the more adventurous wearer who has $400 to spend


Chanel gold-topped glasses, distinctive retro-look frames for the more adventurous wearer who has $400 to spend

There are so many colors in eyeglass frames from which to choose these days, the dizzying array of choices can be overwhelming. What looks best on you?

Different colors complement different hair and skin tones, as well as eye color. Colors are broken down in "warm" and "cool" tones. Blond hair, if pale, is "cool", if more golden, is warm. Strawberry blond, platinum, blue-black, white, salt-and-pepper, and "dishwater" blond or brown fall into the "cool" region. Warm hair colors include golden blond, flat black, brown-gold, "carrot" and "dirty" gray. What looks best on a blue-eyed, olive-toned skinned person with brown hair is different for a brown-eyed, tawney-toned skinned person with platinum hair. A person could have a combination of warm and cool tones, especially if hair is dyed. I knew a fashion-minded woman a few years back who loved wearing a variety of differently colored wigs. Carol varied her makeup tones and had three different colors/styles of eyeglass frames to wear, depending on which wig she chose that day. It was a mood thing. For most people, though, owning one or two pairs of glasses are more than enough.

Eye color must also be considered when selecting frames. There are many variations of eye color. For example, blue eyes can range from a deep nearly-violet shade, which is cool, to a pale blue-gray, which is warm. Brown eyes can vary from a light cider shade (warm) through a medium-brown to a cool almost-black. Hazel eyes can be predominantly green (cool) or gold/brown (warm).

Also, to a lesser degree, you should also consider the palette of colors and tones you tend to wear the most often in clothing. More than likely, you are pretty consistent with your preferences. These are the colors that you favor, instinctively feeling your best in them. These are likely your best colors.

You want your eyeglasses to blend in and be a part of your overall look. If you lean toward the conservative side, choose a style and color(s) of frames that coordinate or enhance, don't clash, with your normal style.

If you're a wilder, bolder personality type, chunky, colorful, non-mainstream frames in geometric or free-form shapes may be a preferred signature fashion statement for you. However, you may tire of the look after a few weeks. So I'm cautioning you about investing your limited dollars in an expensive fad that you could end up hating long before you can afford to replace your frames.

As a rule of thumb, basic metal frames (gold, copper, pewter, silver) are unobtrusive and tend to look good with all hair colors and skin tones.

Consult the chart below as a starting point for your best colors for frames. Many more combinations are possible, since eye color isn't included and many frames aren't just a solid single color anymore (duo or tri-tones), but this will help get you started on focusing on those colors that will look best on you.


Eye Glass Frame Color Chart
FRAME COLOR Blond Hair, Pale Skin Brown Hair, Olive Skin Red Hair, Tawny or Ruddy Skin Black Hair, Black Skin Silver or White Hair, Pale Skin
Rose X X X X
Blue X X X
Green/jade X X
Tortoise X X
Plum X X
Brown X X
Gold/Copper X X X X X
Silver/Pewter X X X X X
Coral/Orange X
Amber X X
Purple X
Black X X X
White X

When selecting your eyeglass frames, be aware that fluorescent lighting alters the appearance of skin tones. What looks satisfactory under fluorescent may look terrible in natural light. If the optical store doesn't have a viewing area that has lighting that adjusts for natural or daylight, ask if you can wear the frames outside to see how they look against your coloring. It's a good idea, if possible, for you to bring a friend or relative to help you in analyzing how the frames' shape and color look on you.

Tinted lenses are another option, although you usually pay more for this. If this is something you want, stick with the cool or warm tones that coordinate with the color of the frames. Other options that you may or may not need (and which drive up the cost) include anti-scratch coating, full UV protection, quality hard eyeglass case, lens cleaner, microfiber lens cleaning cloth, etc.




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Sources:, "Eyeglass Frames: Buying Frames That Match Your Personality, Style and Interests," (
Morgan, Erinn, All About Vision, "Eyeglass Frames That Match," (
Reader's Digest Great Health Hints & Handy Tips, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1994.