Friday, April 9, 2010

Should You Wear Pince-Nez?


Probably not.

This is a shocking statement to make on the Renaissance. However, I do feel obligated to advise readers that pince-nez eyewear presents many challenges. Anyone casually interested in this style for full-time use can easily be discouraged and he/she most likely will not succeed. You must have a very strong desire to wear pince-nez. If you do have that passion, then I suggest you proceed knowing some of the possible barriers in your path. I considered giving up at one point as my first mounting proved an improper fit.

The distinguished eyewear style is definitely worth the effort if you are truly devoted.

What are the potential obstacles facing someone interested in wearing pince-nez? The primary challenges involve time, money and public image. A newcomer to pince-nez should consider the following:

1. The proper mounting - Antique pince-nez are abundant in the marketplace at a very reasonable cost and most are perfectly functional. The problem lies in finding a mounting of the correct size for your nose. If one buys off of eBay, there is no guarantee of fit. A proper size can be hard to find and you will likely acquire many pince-nez which do not fit. Prices vary from $25 and up on eBay to several hundred dollars from an boutique optical store.

I have a nose bridge of average width and I'm lucky if one-fifth of the mountings I've tried on actually fit me.

2. Prescription lenses for your mounting - Many opticians are reluctant to work on pince-nez. Of those who will make lenses, not all of them will work with you after the sale. It is very important to find an optician who will make adjustments to your eyeglasses once the lenses are made, as is done with ordinary spectacles. Expect to pay at least $200+ for lenses, and more if you have a complex prescription.

I used a boutique optical store for my first pince-nez and they did not work with me on adjustments after the sale. I learned a valuable lesson.

3. Fear of negative public perception - "People will think I am odd or strange for wearing these glasses." I'm sure this thought occurs to anyone considering pince-nez for daily wear. Unfortunately the answer is sometimes yes. Some people will consider you eccentric or odd for wearing this eyewear style. However this is the situation with anyone who is "fashion forward" and pursues his/her own look. The bold and innovative people have their share of critics as well as admirers.

I am lucky in that the Bay Area tolerates a diversity of dress. Pince-nez is quite mild in terms of variation for this region. If you live in a less diversified setting and/or hold a job where you have a public image, then you should carefully consider the possible impact of wearing pince-nez on a full-time basis.

I've received many compliments and positive comments regarding my own wear of pince-nez. On the other hand, I realize there are others who view these eyeglasses as odd. These people will almost certainly not voice their opinions to you.

If you are willing to make a commitment to pince-nez, then I urge you to proceed.

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