Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Selection Process

I was very fortunate to receive this fantastic group of pince-nez. Now the tough part is selecting one to be fitted with prescription lenses. This is my first experience with pince-nez so you are getting my perspective as a newcomer to this style of eyewear. After several days of wearing all eight mountings, I can tell you this is an experience completely different from purchasing standard eyeglasses.

Most people, including myself, usually spend less than an hour selecting conventional eyewear. It is a quick and usually painless process. "One size fits all" works for virtually everyone who buy standard frames with temples. A optician or sales clerk can make adjustments in less than five minutes. Let me state there is nothing wrong with standard eyewear. But if you are reading this blog, chances are that you appreciate the beauty of the pince-nez and would like to wear it. There is much more legwork involved with getting pince-nez but it is definitely worth the effort.

Of the eight mountings above, two fit incredibly well. The matte silver at the top left (a "Fits-U") and the gold mounting without lenses at the top right are a remarkable fit. It will be a tough choice between these two. I'm leaning towards the gold one now.

I was really amazed at how all eight mountings varied in fit on me. If you want to wear the fingerpiece, I strongly suggest trying on a number of different mountings before deciding on one. Since virtually all of us wear standard frames, it takes a while to gauge the feel of a pince-nez. Plan on spending some time with a number of mountings before making your pick. It helps greatly to try on mountings which don't fit. This gives you more perspective on the process and highlights critical areas.

Purchasing a pince-nez in the old days was much easier. A friend of mine succinctly described the process as follows:

Interesting that in the 1905 to 1920 era opticians would have sample sets of rimless fingerpiece pince-nez from companies like American Optical. Their line of fingerpiece pince-nez was called "Fits U." A sample set contained about a dozen pince-nez with sample lenses on mountings of various widths etc. They had at least 2 or perhaps 3 sets which varied as to nose bridge depth as well. With a choice of 24 or 36 pince-nez an optician was able to easily make a perfect fit. All had nose guards were of identical design.

Pince-nez is definitely not a "one size fits all."

The two vital factors in determining a proper fit are comfort and security. You must have both elements, otherwise the pince-nez will sit in a drawer. Keep these two elements in mind while putting on various pince-nez.

Oh yes, silicone nose pads. These are a virtual necessity for both comfort and security. It is possible to wear a pince-nez without nose pads, but in almost all cases it is a great aid to overall comfort. These pads slide easily over nose guards.

Lots more to write on fit so I'll put that in future posts.


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