Vintage style: catseye glasses, part ii – buying vintage glasses online

Following on from part i, where I showed you the merits of vintage frames versus new and chose new, part ii is going to show you the other side of the coin and explore the joys of buying vintage glasses while demonstrating my continued talent for finding ways to never have to set foot in a physical shop.

So, there are many vintage eyewear shops out there, particularly online. I’ve browsed around as many as I could find, but I always returned to one in particular: Dead Men’s Spex. Why? Clear presentation, useful navigation tools (you can search by era!) and, most importantly, a simply huge range of excellent condition frames. Especially catseye frames, which they have in absolute abundance!

From the classic…

To the more unusual…

Not being brave enough to order anything on the unusual side, I opted for classic:

Ordering the frames
  1. Ordered the frames without lenses from Dead Men’s Spex – partly because if I didn’t like the frame I could return them because they weren’t made-to-order, partly because there’s cheaper options out there for putting lenses into glasses. Dead Men’s Spex sent the frames along incredibly quickly
  2. Faffed around with frames deciding if I liked them – decided I did (or this would be a very short post!)
  3. Picked an online company specialising in reglazing glasses – in this case Ciliary Blue, chosen because they offered competitive prices, seemed to have a great reputation and promised to send a box along I could post the glasses back in
  4. For the grand total of £25, Ciliary Blue put in anti-scratch, anti-reflective lenses in my prescription and then sent them back in another box, all within a couple of days of me posting the frames off – excellent service!
And here they are!
Top tips for buying frames online – vintage or new
  • Have a prescription that is under 2 years old – a lot of reglazing sites especially won’t put in a prescription older than that (Ciliary Blue being one of these and they ask for a scan of your signed prescription). Generally it’s a good idea to not put in an old prescription anyway, eyes change constantly – they can even alter if you use a computer more frequently than usual one year
  • Work out your pupil distance either by asking when you have an eye test (they don’t give you it in writing) or by using an app. Don’t worry about the app measurement not being perfect, for mild-medium prescriptions (i.e. you’re not almost blind) you can be a good few millimetres out and it doesn’t matter – in fact, I WAS 3mm out for my first pair of online glasses and I can’t tell at all
  • Buy your frames from a website that gives you clear measurements, especially for temple-to-temple and bridge lengths, and the height and depth of the lens
  • Use measurements from your favourite pair of glasses as a guide for what will fit – it’s a good idea to stick to a shape similar to those you know are flattering, paying particular attention to the temple length, how the top of the frame curves and how thick the frame is across your nose – these things can look bad if wrong
  • Don’t worry too much about the length of the arms – any glasses shop can adjust these usually free of charge (especially the one where you have your eyes tested) – concentrate on getting the temple length right or frames will look too big or too small for your face
  • Check returns procedures – especially for vintage eyewear shops that may have a smaller window for this than the bigger, more commercial ones
And here are my lovely new 50s frames!


CiCi x


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