UK: VITAL SIGNS - Let's talk about specs.

UK: VITAL SIGNS - Let's talk about specs. - Personally, I'm relatively specs blind - I don't notice them unless there's a lot going on: exaggeratedly large or small frames; or a great deal of surface decoration, as in Dame Edna's eyewear or those post-Ve

by PETER YORK, in his persona as Peter Wallis, is managing directorof consultants SRU e-mail: peter@sru.co.uk.

Personally, I'm relatively specs blind - I don't notice them unless there's a lot going on: exaggeratedly large or small frames; or a great deal of surface decoration, as in Dame Edna's eyewear or those post-Versace things with coin-studded arms. But be assured, people do notice and spectacles can make big and distracting statements that you might not intend.

Over the past 15 years, design has become the big issue in the opticians' world. It's the way they distinguish themselves and the way they create added-value. Wherever you go, there'll be fancy frames, fancy names and fancy prices too. All the big design houses see eyewear as another profit stream, so you're being sold into an aesthetic when you're down there to see if your prescription needs changing. Watch out.

And the aesthetic has changed, utterly. Because contacts are usual not exotic, specs themselves have become a back-up for many management types, hence the emphasis on frames. And - like it or not - frames have been fashionised through three or four major fashion cycles in the past 20 years. You could find yourself in the position of a mid-thirties broker I know who's invested in a high-style, high-tech pair (small, wire-framed, designer SS look) that puts his whole comfortable Sloane dress code in jeopardy. It jars horribly and I felt like asking him if adultery or a move to a creative industry job was imminent.

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