Last week, a friend and I stepped out of a dark restaurant into the blinding New York afternoon sunlight. Desperate for relief from the light, she kneeled down to dig through her bag for her sunglasses. By the time she pried hers from their case, my sleek, silver-framed lenses had already transformed into brown-tinted shades.
Transition lenses darken when exposed to UV light, like sunlight, and then return to their clear state indoors or when UV light decreases. On cloudy days, they offer a light tint. The tech is smart enough to give you exactly what you need when you need it. Growing up, this style was a social crime, but the concept always intrigued me. I loved how I could have two very different looks in one accessory.
My return to transition lenses as an adult was mainly out of necessity. I couldn’t let my retinas sizzle like ants under a microscope any longer. I also still loved how this metamorphic eyewear could change my appearance in the blink of an eye.
Where sunglasses are a classic symbol of cool, glasses are like a badge of honor. They say, “I’m clever! I’m deep!” They allude to a trove of knowledge behind those eyes, even if it’s hollow inside. Catch me in dimly lit coffee shops or the dark tunnels of the subway, and I’m bookish. Ask me any trivia question, and I’ll answer it with confidence.
Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney, and Miu Miu are a few of the houses that incorporated glasses into their fall 2023 collections. There’s an enigmatic quality to these looks. For instance, Miu Miu’s circular tortoiseshell styles aimed for a purposely disheveled, “I overslept and am late for work” aesthetic, but I’ve always favored streamlined, rectangular designs. In moments of illness or haste, the goal was to appear polished and put together. My references were The Matrix trilogy and the countless 2000s Midwestern dads at my middle school basketball games who occasionally looked up from their BlackBerrys through their rectangular frames to chastise a referee. This firmly linked angular glasses in my mind with a very specific strain of power and success.