Celebrity style: Why glasses are the latest 'it' accessory

It was a big surprise when Lupita Nyong'o

It was a big surprise when Lupita Nyong'o whipped out a pair of glasses to get a better look at the clothes at the Calvin Klein Show during New York Fashion week. (Credit: BFAnyc.com / Billy Farrell)

If you had to choose the celebrity accessory of the moment would it be: a) "It" bag, b) Deluxe gel mani, c) Stack of bangles, d) Miniature dog.

If you picked any of the above, you're wrong. This moment belongs to eyeglasses -- not sunglasses, but big, obvious, need-'em-to-see specs.

At the Golden Globes, Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep sported them on the red carpet. Debra Messing and fashion darling of the moment Lupita Nyong'o donned them front row at New York Fashion Week. Gwen Stefani, a forerunner of the trend, has been wearing them for years. And "House of Cards" political wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, uses them to define her high-fashion, ice queen look. Safe to say, glasses have arrived in the fashion world.

"I think for those people who needed glasses, it was always a trauma," says Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar who has a big, bold wardrobe of reading glasses. "Today it's literally the accessory du jour, and the point is that you can be fashionable in every area."

At Minneapolis-based eyeglass manufacturer Eyebobs, bold styles abound, including a series of looks worn by Katie Couric.

"Eyewear is not to be hidden anymore," says Jason Engelman, one of the company's certified opticians who works with the design team. "Everybody used to call it 'geek chic' but now it's just your glasses -- you put them on and go and I don't see the trend ending anytime soon."

"It's another area where you can project your own sense of self and style," Graham says. As for the old Dorothy Parker adage, "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" -- "now they do," Graham says.

Eyeglasses on the cheap

Designer and name brand frames can cost a pretty penny, but if you're willing to forgo the logo, you can get the look on the cheap from online resource Zenni Optical (zennioptical.com), where prices start at $6.95 and go to $45 for pure titanium frames.

Depending on the season, the company has 2,750-5,000 different styles. Dilyara Breyer, a senior visual designer at Zenni, says the company watches the latest trends in eyewear, as well as choices celebrities make.

Among the company's current hits are translucent frames, popular in the 1940s to '60s, Breyer says. "Everything old is new again," she notes, pointing to other vintage looks such as cat-eyes, rounder glasses and keyhole bridges.

How to find a perfect pair

"How do I look in these?"

We've asked that question dozens of times, pretty much depending on the kindness of strangers to tell us we look good, bad or ugly in a given pair of glasses or shades.

Now, makeup maven Bobbi Brown is here to save the day.

This spring, Brown, partnering with eyewear company Safilo, launched an eponymous collection of optical frames, sunglasses, priced from $68-$220.

How does she know what looks good? "Being a beauty expert, I've always been aware of how glasses can transform the face and I wanted to take the mystery out of how to choose the right glasses," says Brown, who has worn eyeglasses since she was 16.

Brown developed a three-step system to help women find the perfect pair based on style, color and face shape. The 33-piece collection ranges from retro to sporty, from black to a blushy rose. Brown has lusted after trendy big, dark oversized frames, but says with her petite face, "I quickly look like Swifty Lazar or like I'm in biology class." For the record (and other petite faces) there is a "Bobbi" style.

Since we can't take Bobbi Brown with us when we shop, here's a little guidance: "Don't wear glasses that are so big you can't see your eyebrows or so small that if you look straight you see just your eye through the glasses. And if you're going for less of a statement, play with nude colors. They blend beautifully into hair and skin, are incredibly hip and you can still wear a strong frame."

Face shape helps dictate frame:

1 Round: Go for angular, narrow frames, specifically rectangles. "A round face and round glasses, that is a no," Brown says.

2 Heart-shaped: Choose styles that are wider at the bottom with rounded temples.

3 Square: Wider styles, such as round frames.

4 Oval: Almost anything works.

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