Picking Glasses Frames for Older Women

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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 are not doomed to bifocals, glasses hung from chains around the neck and the pastel frames you bought for $40 back in 1988. Pick the right eyeglasses and frames and you could actually shave years off your look. Pick the wrong ones (or stick with the dated look you've adopted) and you can 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. 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 exact scarf every day would you? No, you'd change it up. So you may consider changing up your look when it comes to glasses, too.

The late author Charla Krupp writes about glasses in her book, "How Not to Look Old," (buy it from Amazon). She recommends keeping 3 pair on hand: One for the work day, one for evenings and one for weekends. This is a great idea. Since so many people I know dress casually for both work and evenings, I suggest getting 3 very different pair that will work well with your outfits

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 over the past 4 years (or so). 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 3 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. It's aging and screams you are no longer 30 or even 40 or even 45. See what other things you might be doing to age yourself unnecessarily in "Are Your Makeup and Hair Aging You?"

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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 along and be sure to try on as many pairs of glasses as possible. Don't be afraid to get help from a salesperson. They know better than anyone which frames flatter coloring and face shapes.

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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. Now note how a pair of frames totally transforms her look. See why you should own more than one pair?

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Your Coloring Matters

Meryl Streep. Andreas Rentz // Getty Images

You 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.

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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, but 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. They need to hit at the brow 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 tortoise shell frames. Buy from Amazon

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Red Frames are Youthful, Blue Frames are Not So Much

Sally Jesse Raphael. Andy Kropa // Getty Images

In her book, Krupp writes 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 considered a major accessory. You can overwhelm a look by also piling on scarves, a hat and jewelry. It's best to stay simple.

Blythe Danner wears tortoise shell glasses here. 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. Had her glasses been oversized, statement frames, it would have been too much. But 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

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.

When you try on frames, you'll get an idea very quickly of what works on you and what doesn't.

Armani makes a nice teal frame. Buy from Amazon

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Lipstick is Very Important & 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 (I do love these frames on her) off. Her eyes are hidden here behind the frames. So just a reminder when you know a camera is pointed your way, take off your glasses and show off your eyes.

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Pick Youthful Frames & Shave Years Off Your Look

Dr. Ruth Westheimer. John Lamparski // Getty Images

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is not a young woman, but you can see she's young at heart from the frames that she's chosen here. Again, a dowdy pair of old glasses would transform Dr. Westheimer into an old lady, whereas here, she seems almost ageless.

These Kate Spade frames from Amazon are lovely. 

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How to Tell If It's Time for a Makeover

Lois Smith. Peter Kramer // Getty Images