Last week I received a great letter from Thomas, a pince-nez enthusiast in South Africa. It is a very thoughtful letter and he has some interesting points.
"I have had the pleasure of wearing glasses from the tender age of 4, back when some frames were still made from what felt like cast iron. Having lived my whole life with glasses, contact lenses have always made me feel naked and vulnerable to some extent. I still remember the first time wearing them, feeling like I was walking around in my underwear!!
At any rate, I have been thinking about trying pince nez for a long time - but I had no idea as to where to start looking or even if they would be comfortable to wear. Once the desire to try them was intense enough, I threw myself on the net and found copious pairs of them, but again, I still had no idea what these glasses were about, how comfortable they were, and if you could even wear them as replacements to regular glasses. (let alone what the width of my bridge was or how to attempt to measure it!?)
And then I came across your site, a true treasure chest of information. With so much dubious and really bad sales info out there, it is truly a discovery to come across a page like yours: devoted to offering real information free, on top of which offering advice and personal experience. WOW! There is so much on your blog about all aspects of pince nez, you really helped me to find my way around, evaluate the pairs I found, and most of all, helping me to realize that I had to try them on and not just order them off the net (I live in South Africa, so return policies would have killed my pocket!).
After searching all local antiques stores, I found a perfectly fitting pair (fixed bridge). Then I had glasses made, and embarked on the adventure of using them. They were good, but still not perfect - the metal would slip of my nose when I was sweating, and living in South Africa, this is not a small problem. Again, you came with the solution: silicone boots!
Walking around with pince nez it seems optometrists are only to happy to help you out, and I found a pair of booties free of charge at a local store, and wow, they now stick to my face like glue. I forget I am wearing glasses nowadays, and that is truly amazing.
--On a side note: with silicone booties, the fixed bridge should be a little wider if possible, as the silicone adds about 1mm thickness to the frames---luckily my pair fits perfectly with the booties as well.
I am now thinking of changing the glasses to photo-cromatic lenses, as the frame is so comfortable and invisible, I do not want to carry around more glasses anymore. More than that, any other pair of glasses feels heavy and clunky compared to the comfort of pince nez!"
There are a few points I'd like to discuss. First, I am pleasantly surprised to read that many South African opticians are interested in assisting pince-nez wearers. This comment by Thomas is in sharp contrast to my experiences, as well as most other pince-nez wearers here in the US, who have not had positive interactions with opticians regarding pince-nez. Secondly, Thomas points out that he wears silicone nose pads for added comfort and security. The nose pads are especially helpful in South Africa's humid climate. As Thomas notes, the nose guards of the mounting should be a little wider to accommodate the width of the nose pads.
A very inspiring letter. The Renaissance is grateful for Thomas's letter and we wish him the best of luck with his eyewear.