Luxottica controls 80% of the major brands in the $28 billion global eyeglasses industry. Hat tip to Jennifer* (all the more reason to try and save money and not let them be “price markers”.)
It’s a combination of luck and frequency of thrifting where you might be fortunate to find frames that aren’t destroyed. Most of the frames I see in thrift stores have seen better days and are unwearable, especially vintage. You must keep your eyes wide open for good frames as it’s tough to find anything immaculate.
I haven’t had very much luck with eyeglasses through the years, so I’m here to show you how to save money when buying retail eyewear. Next time you’re considering a new pair of glasses, read this!!
So I used to be such a label whore, and I freely admit it. Forgive me because I didn’t know any better! I assumed that if something was made or licensed by a very important designer, then it must be good. It had to be, right?
In the process of learning this valuable lesson, I wasted a lot of money, both when I had it and when I didn’t (via credit cards).
Say it with me, “I do not have to pay a frivolous markup at the optometrist or anywhere else, anymore.” Props to you if you’ve already learned this lesson!
In this post, I’ll be reviewing at least 5 places where you can purchase stylish and quality eyewear for less than you could imagine! Some of these sites also support philanthropy and charity, so it’s a win-win.
Some of my delusions started with fancy sunglasses in the 90’s, when Calvin Klein was in his heyday. This was before you could find his items at TJ Maxx and his name commanded a hefty sum. I remember paying over $200 for a pair of amazing oversized squared off black sunglasses.
Back then, that was quite a lot of money. They’d still be stylish today IF I still had them.
It wasn’t meant to be as I think they were sat on in less than a year. I remember holding the pieces that were left and crying, “whyyyyyy?” After that experience, I was wary of buying another fancy pair to meet yet a similar fate.
I have a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses that I got for my 40th birthday and you bet your tushie that I am super duper careful with them. They’re always in their case when they’re not on my face.
I’ve been challenged in the vision department since the single digits. When I was little, there weren’t any options besides the optometrist to order your glasses or contacts. I remember when 1-800-Contacts started changing the game.
Once upon a time, I saved up for these Giorgio Armani gold frames. I was overly impressed with the fancy bend at the hinges and that they were oval. They also decimated my emergency fund.
They lasted a super long time, to their credit. Not sure what happened to them!
This is my current arsenal of glasses and I’ll go into detail about them.
From top to bottom, in order of purchase: Warby Parker Thatcher in Whiskey Tortoise (now only available as sunglasses), Joseph Marc in frame 4074 and Derek Cardigan in frame 7005 (both from Coastal.com), and Zenni Optical in frame 286216.
None of these broke the bank and the combined total for all 4 pairs would have been the equivalent of a pair of Prada or comparable designer.
I still wear the Warby Parkers as I adore them but the prescription isn’t right anymore AND the right arm is disintegrating. It’s unfortunate there’s no way to fix them, unless I want to get them as sunglasses first and order lenses through Replace-A-Lens.
Replace-A-Lens is an awesome mail order lens service based in Denver, CO. Their customer service is top notch and they have wonderful deals.
Deep down, I wish I could rock cat eyes 24/7. The reality is that my big face looks better in bigger Wayfarer-style frames. Such is life.
Warby Parker offers an amazing home try-on program that can’t be beat. They’ll send you 5 pairs of frames that you select so you can try them on at home.
Unfortunately, not all of the frames are available for this program and the last time I used the program, I didn’t find anything that I liked to replace my beloved Thatchers.
A company that I discovered recently is Fetch Eyewear. Based in Portland, OR, 100% of their proceeds go to animal rescue! Their frames come with a lifetime warranty and start at $125!!
Here’s a screenshot of their offerings for women.
I love their entire concept and some of these frames might really work. Think of the animals, won’t you?
I can’t find these frames anymore, but they were purchased from Spex Club, which later turned into Lookmatic. Note that they’re a smaller Wayfarer style.
Here are some frames on Lookmatic that I think you should check out.
At $99 with free shipping, these Kitty frames are very fashionable and look to be of decent quality. I bet they’d be conversation starters, too.
Their frames start at $99, comparable to Warby Parker and Lookmatic. They also have a neat virtual try-on with your webcam that distracted me for some time.
If I had seen these Keiko frames before I ordered my Derek Cardigans from Coastal.com, I think I would have gotten them instead! They were created in partnership with the lovely blogger Keiko Lynn. Her eyebrows are divine and she’s one of those people on the internet that seems to have it all together. Behold!
Unfortunately, their prices have gone up considerably since I purchased from them earlier this year. These frames were under $99 when I got them a few months ago and have now gone up to $138-$168. Sad face
This is the famous Derek Cardigan in 7005 Black frame. I found these on Instagram, as I follow a ton of stylish makeup artists like Jessica Hayes. The pics of this frame on her (look, it also comes in other colors) and other makeup artists absolutely sold me.
Again, I really want to be a cat eye gal. They are very well made and will last a long time, I hope. Their customer service is terrific, should you need it.
Zenni Optical is where I found my latest frames. They were $15.95 and I purchased the basic standard anti-reflective coating for $4.95. Shipping was $4.95, so they were a whopping $24.95 total. I’m not kidding! They have other frames that weren’t too bad.
I’m honest to goodness impressed with these frames. The main con is that they are very light and cheap plastic, but I paid so little that it’s not a dealbreaker. I’ll need to have an optician adjust them for me as I’m afraid of being too heavy handed and breaking them.
Top pic is from their Instagram of this frame. It’s the 286216 style and it’s very bright in the picture, but is MUCH darker in person. One interesting effect from the brownish red arms is that it looks like there are little red beams on my face when the sun hits me sideways.
Bottom pic is the frame in reality. Not so blue, which is too bad, as I was trying to match my hair. Ah #tealhairproblems
There you have it, 6 places to check out for stylish, inexpensive frames.
Two other ways to save money are to install the Honey browser extension for Chrome, which will automatically apply available coupons to websites (when available). You can use Honey on any e-commerce site and you’re losing money if you don’t have it installed.
I love Retail Me Not, both the app and the website.
Here are some coupons from Retail Me Not that you should try:
Oh, one thing to keep in mind is that you might need your frames adjusted! Sometimes, nothing comes off the rack fitting perfectly without some help (and that goes for clothes, too!). If you have insurance, use your own optician or if you have a Costco membership, see one of their opticians, but not on the weekends, as it’s too packed.
I’ve found both Kaiser’s optometry department and Costco’s opticians to be pleasant and satisfactory.
Happy hunting for frames and let me know your secrets or if I’ve missed any worthwhile contenders.
Have a wonderful Independence Day weekend, everyone!