“…glasses have steadily evolved from strict practicality to become spectacles in themselves”

Practical people, choosing the unassuming oblong frames that are the plain vanilla of this realm, declare their contentment with presenting the illusion of a neutral perspective. But glasses have steadily evolved from strict practicality to become spectacles in themselves. The dominant models of the day are “library glasses,” with big lenses mounted in bold plastic frames made of cellulose acetate. On the face of a fashion executive about town, such glasses dare party photographers to ignore galactic glances designed to be seen. In postgame interviews, basketball stars flash frames that, whether fitted with prescription lenses or nonprescription lenses or no lenses at all, broadcast an eagerness to discuss strategy.

There is a generational swing in this motion away from the understated titanium frames — light and strong, hypoallergenic and uncorroding — that let baby boomers feel they were aging gracefully into reading fine print that had grown fuzzy. The low-key futurism of titanium, with its promise of better living through metallurgy, is out of step with the future that has arrived, where this foundational piece of wearable technology is styled to evoke a plastic past of indistinct vintage. People who wear large lenses are announcing that they do not share the cast of mind suggested by small lenses that pierce and finely peer. The little rimless numbers of the sort once favored by Steve Jobs are precision tools conspicuous only in the elegance with which they reject excess. The new glasses — outsize and omnivorous — reject that rejection.

Troy Patterson, “On Clothing”, New York Times Magazine (14 June 2015), 22.