Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fact: Not Everyone Can Wear Pince-Nez


Perhaps my favorite comedian of all time is Redd Foxx. He passed away about five years ago or so, but his comic routines are legendary. In one of his less risque acts, he talked about eyeglasses. The following is as I remember it: "If we didn't have this piece of meat right here [pointing to his ears], we'd be wearing goggles." Obviously, Mr. Foxx wasn't familiar with pince-nez.

Regrettably, not everyone is suited for wearing pince-nez.

What is the important factor in determining suitability for wearing pince-nez? One must have some depth or prominence to the bridge of the nose. This is necessary for the nose guards to be securely held in place.

The good news is that most people, both men and women, can probably wear this style. At the peak of its popularity from 1885 to 1919 pince-nez accounted for roughly sixty to seventy percent of all eyeglasses worn in the US. A survey of the 1911 Brown University yearbook was consistent with this figure. Of those students who wore glasses, seventy percent of them wore pince-nez. Clearly the indication was that most people could wear it. It is also probably true today.

[student circa 1906]

[Ohio student circa 1913]


That covers the physical aspects of the topic.

Then there is the mental side. It takes a strong, individualist spirit to wear this style as it is differs markedly from mainstream eyewear. My guess is that if you found this column, you have that spirit.

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