If you wear specs every day they have to be the best pair for your eyes and face that you can afford. End of story. Specs are the first thing that people see when they look at your face. They have the power to make an instantly fab or drab impression no matter what you’re wearing. Much like your hairstyle, specs can make or break your look.

So when I have clients who wear their specs all day every day, I start the journey of their style renewal by shopping for frames. There is little point updating a wardrobe and hairstyle when the most important accessory that you own is neither current nor flattering.

As a fashion stylist who wears glasses, I have spent many, many hours seeking out killer specs for myself, friends, family members and clients. It is all about experimentation, but over the years I’ve also developed the following guidelines:

  • Find a handful of reputable eyeglasses stores: Do the homework of finding stores that have skilled sales assistants and sell a wide assortment of eyewear from all over the world (Japanese, French and Danish frames are my favourites at the moment). You’re after stores that sell it all, from classic and modern looks to retro and completely over-the-top vibes. That way you’ll maximize your chances of finding a killer pair.
  • Try on many styles: Do not go into the process with a preconceived notion of what you think might work unless you know for sure from previous experiences. Try as many different shapes, styles and colours as possible. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the cherries stand out. In some instances certain style features are a must because of comfort issues. For example, I find nose pads uncomfortable so my frames have to be plastic.
  • Bring along a style savvy friend: Often, you can’t adequately judge the frames you’re fitting because you have to remove your current specs to try them on (wearing contacts during the process helps). Sales assistants are not created equal so it’s imperative to bring along as extra set of stylish eyes. For me, Greg is hands down the best person to assess a new pair of specs and I trust his aesthetic judgment implicitly.
  • Frames MUST LIFT: I cannot stress this point enough. Specs look best when they lift the cheek and eye area at the bottom outside corners of the frames upwards. If they don’t, your facial features look like they’re drooping which is unattractive. So be wary of the vertical height of the style. It’s awfully unflattering if it’s too high or sags downwards.
  • Your eyes should be centered within the frames: They don’t need to be absolutely dead center, but thereabouts is good.
  • Match the scale of the frames with your facial proportions: Bold, oversized frames are dramatic and fabulous, but that doesn’t mean they will work for you. A small person with dainty facial features is overwhelmed in thick, chunky frames. But that person can still wear bold frames if they choose a refined version of a chunky style.
  • Follow the line of your brows: Choose a frame shape that mirrors the arch of your eyebrows.
  • Don’t be scared of extra width: Many people wear specs that are too narrow for their face. Their eyes may be centered and the style “lifts upwards”, but the narrow width of the frames constricts the face. You want a shape that “opens up” the face, so add a little width to the top outside corners of the frames. It makes a world of difference, often balancing out a pear shaped face.
  • Think in three dimensions: You see your frames from the front, but everyone else sees them from all angles. They also catch glimpses of the inside of the frame. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to temple and inside colour detailing. Often, if the colour on the inside of the frames and the temples is different, the overall look is softer and more interesting. My favourite specs are black and white, but they are bright turquoise on the inside which softens the harsh contrast against my pale skin and soft features.
  • Choose a color that complements your skin tone and eye colour: The operative word is “complement”, not “match”. Bright blue-eyed people shouldn’t wear bright blue specs. But wearing brown specs with blue detailing might be ideal. Do not confine your choice to neutral tones either. Eyewear does not have to match what you’re wearing, but rather go with everything because it compliments your face, not your clothes. You don’t change your face to match an outfit – it’s the same with eyewear. You can absolutely wear an orange or pink top if you wear red specs.
  • Create the right amount of contrast: If the contrast between the colour of your skin tone and the frames is too strong, you’ll look severe. If it’s not strong enough you’ll look blah. This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally, choose a colour that is different to the colour of your hair and eyes. There are brown-eyed people with brown hair who get away with wearing brown specs, but this is not the norm.

Remember that specs can be adjusted to fit so don’t worry if they are a little too tight or too loose when you try them on. Also remember that you’re not bound to wearing one pair of specs all the time. I continually swap out three pairs and I’m on the hunt for a fourth.

My guidelines are from the perspective of someone who wears specs herself, but many of the people who appreciate your choice of frames won’t be in this category. Sally from Already Pretty will offer this equally important perspective in her blog entry today. It’s well worth a look.

Readers and their Killer Specs

Meet some of our fabulous forum members and their specs. Clockwise from the top left: Cathy, Ana, Kari, Maya, Kristen and Sandy. Their specs are perfectly interesting, ageless, current and above all very flattering. Take the time to look at the details on their eyewear and compare them to the guidelines above. Note how the subtle and overt details on the temples and frames themselves contribute greatly to an overall look. The devil is always in the detail! I went specs shopping with Cathy and Sandy, Ana and Maya received loads of forum guidance during their specs selection process, and Kari and Kristen did a great job on their own. See this thread for more examples of forum lasses sporting their stylish specs.