VISUALEYES MAGAZINE, 2000
Eyeglass Styles for Seniors
By Susan Kelly
It's difficult to believe that Sophia Loren is 64 years old. With the signature upswept hairdo, low-cut gowns, and dramatic eye makeup, she remains eternally glamorous. But in recent years her look has changed -- and in a major way: Whether at home or emerging from a limousine at Cannes, recent photographs show her wearing eyeglasses.
Of course, everyone experiences vision changes as the years pass. By the time they reach retirement age, most seniors possess at least one pair of glasses, if only for reading. Beyond necessity, as more seniors wear eyeglasses, more people in this age group now consider it a stylish accessory.
A stylist's eye view
Diana Kilgour runs her own image consulting and personal shopping service in Vancouver. Over the past 19 years, she's guided many seniors in changing or enhancing their look.
According to Kilgour, the old stereotypes about seniors as less active, less affluent, and adhering to conservative styles simply aren't justified. Most may not opt for Ms. Loren's all-out glamour approach, but they do demand a lot of style in their eyewear.
"In fact, we can't even assume seniors are retired. I've had clients in their seventies who were starting up third or fourth businesses. One could generalize and say many seniors need a more updated look, but I can say the same thing about many far younger people."
Kilgour first conducts a lifestyle assessment with a client. With younger clients, asking about their profession gives the quickest take on the style they need for everyday. However, retired people are a different story. For them, Kilgour finds colour is a good tip-off. In general, she finds there are three basic categories:
Soft Classic - These people are usually dressed in muted or classic shades, such as grey, camel, and navy. You can tell right away this person will prefer the sophisticated, conservative end of your line, perhaps with a designer name. They might have to be reminded that classics do change over time.
Earthy - These people prefer natural fabrics like wool, cotton, and homespun tweeds. Earthy browns and greens, or muted shades of other colours are preferred. Point them towards a matte metallic or tortoiseshell plastic frame, and keep the shape rounder and softer.
Bright - A woman wearing hot pink or vibrant turquoise, or a man sporting a lavender golf shirt denotes a more adventurous spirit. This client will probably choose a more colourful frame and experiment with a newer, youthful shape.
If you have any doubts about your own assessment of which category a client belongs to, Kilgour suggests a simple solution -- ask them. When given these three options, she finds most people know which they fall under.
As time passes, hair colour undergoes some change, and both men and women tend to lose some skin tone. Kilgour suggests many Golden Agers would benefit from adding a touch of colour to the frame. "As their hair takes on a bright silver cast, many seniors find they can now wear brighter colours than during their hard-working middle years."
However, she cautions that: "Glasses should never be the very first thing you notice. If the woman is conservatively dressed in muted colours and little or no makeup, a very trendy or colourful pair of glasses will be too much the focal point."
One style faux pas observed in many seniors is a tendency to opt for dressy,
jewelry-type glasses, in highly polished gold or silver. While these styles
might be perfect for a party night or the theatre, they clash with the more
casual wardrobe most people, especially retirees, now prefer. "Frames with inlaid
jewels at the temple in particular clash with the kind of loose-fitting, sports-inspired
styles of today," says Kilgour.
With seniors as with everyone, the old formalized rules for eyewear fit simply don't apply with today's styles. For instance, smaller, angular frames do not follow the brow, something that used to be a must. According to Kilgour, the only rules that still apply are: If your face is very round, you should have a frame with a bit of angle, perhaps even geometric in design; and vice versa, angular faces should have rounder styles.
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