How Do I Pick A Pair Of Glasses That Work Everywhere?

“I’m looking to buy some new glasses and want to know, what’s going to be in style for the next couple of years? I mainly wear them at work, where I wear tans and browns, so thought a tortoiseshell would be good. But what about shapes and sizes?”

Jonny, via contact form

It’s a peculiarly British affliction to have wardrobes deep enough to wear a different ensemble every day of the year, but treat accessories as an afterthought. We try to make one bag work with everything, so it winds up working with nothing. Or invest in a pair of smart shoes, then wear them to work every day even as the suit above them rotates.

Glasses are the same. Our continental cousins know that just as swapping out your shirt can take an outfit from the office to after-hours, having a pair of glasses for business and pleasure is one of the simplest ways to refresh your look. So rather than invest in one pair, I’d split your budget over two – a sober tortoiseshell for work and something with a bit more flair for when you’re off-duty. Clear acetate frames are particularly on-point at the moment, but if that’s a touch too Shoreditch architect then I’d advise a pair that combine different materials – Shwood’s Prescott model (€399) teams titanium frames with wooden legs, for glasses that are super-light and bridge that modern-artisan aesthetic.


As far as shape goes, round styles are trending, although a perfect circle makes most faces look like equally spherical. Instead, pick a style with a slight taper at the bottom, like Glints’ Gresham (£143). The brand’s wares are all handmade in Japan, in factories whose glasses ordinarily wouldn’t leave much change from £500. But because they’re sold direct online, you get luxury frames at high street prices. Which leaves some leftover for that second pair.

Glints' Gresham

If your budget won’t stretch to three figures, then Bailey Nelson is one of the most cost-effective places to buy glasses in Britain. All the brand’s hand-crafted frames cost just £98, with treatments like anti-scratch and anti-glare, which most opticians try to upsell you on, thrown in free. Our pick is the two-tone Joyce (£98), which features a half-brown, half-colourless frame. The perfect mix of business and pleasure.

Bailey Nelson

Similar Articles