18 Tips for Picking Eyeglass Frames for Women Over Age 50

Close-Up Of Sunglasses On Beach
Teerapat Seedafong / EyeEm / Getty Images
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Funky, Black Frames Are Youthful

Evelina Khromchenko. Pascal Le Segretain // Getty Images

Just because you're a Woman of a Certain Age who wears glasses, you're not doomed to bifocals, glasses hung from chains around your neck, and the pastel frames you bought back in the 80s. If you pick the right eyeglasses and frames and you could actually shave years off your look. Pick the wrong ones (or sticking with the dated ones) and you'll add years to your look.

In this slideshow, I share my favorite tips and tricks for choosing the right glasses for you, starting with Rule No. 1: black frames are universally flattering. Put a bad frame on magazine editor Evelina Khromchenko, pictured here, and she could actually look frumpy. But the frames she's chosen tell us she's a classy, sophisticated woman who follows fashion trends. The frames are over-sized and a bit cat-eye and look great on her. To get away with this look, keep jewelry and other accessories to a minimum.

The trendiest glasses frames at the moment are made by Warby Parker. Pricey. Check out the Warby Parker Website.

Kate Spade Finley glasses are similar to Khromchenko's glasses here. Buy from Amazon

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The Perfect Glasses If You Don't Want People to Notice You're Wearing Glasses

Annette Bening. John Shearer // Getty

If you wear glasses every day, consider your glasses your best fashion accessory. You wouldn't wear the same scarf every day, so why wear the same glasses every day. 

The late author Charla Krupp writes about glasses in her book, "How Not to Look Old," (buy it from ​Amazon). She recommends keeping three pairs on hand: One for work, one for evenings, and one for weekends. They also make sure they own a pair of subtle (nearly invisible) glasses that go with any outfit. 

Take this pair on Annette Bening. These are the sort of glasses you want if you don't want to bring attention to the fact that you're wearing glasses. These frameless glasses blend into the face beautifully. A thin frame works well, too. Check out my gallery of eyeglass frames that aren't black for more inspiration.

I love Givenchy's light frames. Buy from Amazon

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Note How Different Annette Looks in Dark Frames?

Annette Benning. Cindy Ord // Getty Images

Here, Annette Bening is in "nerd glasses," those thick black frames that have become increasingly popular the past few years. You can see how her look is instantly transformed from the previous picture, just because of a change in frames.

I love these black frames from Ray Ban. Buy from Amazon.com.

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3 Things to Consider When Purchasing Eyeglasses

Diahann Carroll. Kevin Winter // Getty

When choosing glasses you should consider three things:

  1. Your face shape
  2. Your hair color
  3. Your personality

These oversize frames work beautifully on Diahann Carroll because they fit her face shape, her coloring, and her personality. She has a long face shape, so the square frames balance out the length of her face. As for her coloring, black frames look great on everyone. And her personality comes across in these glasses, which are what we call "signature frames."

Amazon has a great collection of black frames.  

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Dump the Chain.

Jane Fonda. Frederick M. Brown // Getty

Krupp advises women to never wear glasses on a chain. I know it's convenient but it ages you and screams you're no longer 30 or 40 or even 45. 

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How to Shop for Eyeglasses

Princess Caroline in tortoiseshell glasses. Pascal Le Segretain for Getty

When you go eyeglass shopping, always bring a friend with you and be sure to try on as many pairs of glasses as possible. Don't be afraid to get help from a salesperson, but trust your gut. I find that I immediately know when I look in the mirror if the glasses make me look good or not. 

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Clear Frames Don't Scream "I'm Wearing Glasses"

Fern Mallis. Stephen Lovekin // Getty Images

Clear frames are both funky and functional because they go with almost any outfit. These ivory Gucci frames from Amazon are funky and lovely as well. 

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Why One Pair of Frames Is Never Enough

Fern Mallis. Paul Zimmerman // Getty Images

Go back to the last picture and check out the woman pictured there. She's Fern Mallis and she's the same woman pictured here. Note how a pair of frames has totally transformed her look. This is why you should own more than one pair.

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Your Coloring Matters

Meryl Streep. Andreas Rentz // Getty Images

You always want to choose frames that look good with your coloring. Here, while the frames are too small for Meryl Streep's face, they at least work with her coloring. If you're not sure what color frames look best on you, think about your favorite blouse and what color that is.

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Meryl Streep Looks Even Younger Here

Meryl Streep. Mike Coppola for Getty

Notice how much younger Meryl Streep looks in this picture compared to the previous image? This picture was actually taken later than the other one. However, because Streep is wearing more modern frames, I think she looks younger.

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Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis. Jason Merritt // Getty Images

You don't want glasses that are too big or too small for your face. If you love oversized frames, great. Just make sure they don't ride up higher than your brow. Glasses need to hit the brow line or lower.

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Why We Love Tortoiseshell Frames

Diane Keaton. Alberto E. Rodriguez // Getty Images

Tortoiseshell frames are flattering on everyone (except women with gray hair) because the frames usually have blonde, gold, or brown flecks in them.

Ray Ban has nice tortoiseshell frames. Buy from Amazon

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Red Frames Are Youthful, Blue Frames are Not

Sally Jesse Raphael. Andy Kropa // Getty Images

In her book, Krupp notes that red frames are youthful, as are browns and burgundies. Blue, gray, and steel frames can be aging mainly because they are "cooler colors." Stick to warm tones when it comes to your eyeglass frames.

I love these red Versace frames from Amazon.com

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Don't Overaccessorize

Blythe Danner. Dario Cantatore // Getty Images

Your glasses are a major accessory. Don't overwhelm a look by piling on scarves, a hat, and jewelry. It's best to keep it simple.

Here, Blythe Danner is sporting tortoiseshell glasses. Amazon.com has lovely versions. Check them out

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Balance Out the Accessories

Actress Blythe Danner. Stephen Lovekin // Getty Images

Here, Blythe Danner's large necklace actually balances out her glasses. If her glasses had been oversized, statement frames, then the whole look would have been too much. However, I think you'll agree that this look works.

I love the color of Danner's eyeglasses here. Amazon has a version which is just as nice

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Yes, You Can Always Break the Rules

Susan Sarandon. Cindy Ord // Getty Images

I know Krupp insists blue frames are aging, but these teal frames look absolutely stunning on Susan Sarandon because of her hair color. Sometimes, even the best rules are meant to be broken—especially if you're a redhead.

Armani makes a nice teal frame. Buy from Amazon

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Lipstick Is Very Important, and Take Those Glasses Off for Photos

Catherine Deneuve. Andreas Rentz

It's important to wear lip color when you wear glasses. The color balances out the bottom of the face with the top of the face.

Catherine Deneuve's lipstick nicely balances out her statement frames. That said, she looks even better in the pictures in this series when she takes her cool glasses off. Here, her eyes are hidden behind the frames. When you know a camera is pointed at you, ditch the glasses and show off your eyes.

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Youthful Frames Will Shave Years Off Your Look

Dr. Ruth Westheimer. John Lamparski // Getty Images

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is not a young woman, but you can tell she's young at heart from the frames she's wearing. Again, a dowdy pair of old-fashioned glasses would have turned Dr. Westheimer into an old-looking lady, whereas here, she seems almost ageless.

These Kate Spade frames from Amazon are lovely.