Blame the hipsters, or if you are a hipster, blame Buddy Holly (the original hipster). Or, if you're me, blame that damn Zooey Deschanel, whose adorableness makes me want to run out and get bangs, a ukelele and geek glasses, knowing full well that I'll probably look more Ugly Betty than New Girl.
And yet I still try.
Fortunately, it's become easier than ever to rock the librarian-chic look thanks to a new crop of online eyewear shops that specializes in affordable, vintage-inspired specs. There's the cult favorite Warby Parker (www.warbyparker.com), as well as Classic Specs (www.classicspecs.com), Mezzmer (www.mezzmer.com) and Eyefly (www.eyefly.com), a spinoff of discount e-tailer Bluefly. All offer frames and prescription lenses for less than a Benjamin (with even lower prices for bandwagonners with perfect vision), plus free shipping and returns, so you can try on various styles at home, risk-free. No more having to walk into a sterile optometry office to peruse the glass shelves while praying you don't knock down the displays. Instead, Instagram sesh!
In my recent search for a new pair, I checked out Los Angeles-based Lookmatic, formerly known as Spexclub. On its mod site (www.lookmatic.com), shopping for glasses is as straightforward as perusing for shoes—and just as addicting. There's a virtual try-on feature, for which you upload a photo of yourself to see how different frames fit your face. For style inspiration, a blog offers photos of bespectacled celebs.
"Eyewear is a necessity, but it can be so much more," says Joe Cole, Lookmatic's creative director. "Why not buy a pair that goes with this outfit or that one?"
I visited Lookmatic's pop-up shop at LA's TenOverSix boutique and tried on handful of pairs, including the Rivers Cuomo-esque "Vesper," the cat-eyed "Kat"and the "Jesse" in a rockin' shade of red. Design-y types would swoon over the "Apprentice" in a brown, wood-like pattern. After posing in a mirror for a while, the clear winner was "Hobbes," a super-thick-rimmed rectangular style that screamed 1950s nerd. While lightweight and comfy, the specs were so wonderfully geeky I wanted to go read books and solve calculus equations. You know, if I knew anything about calculus. They were adorable.