Sunday, March 1, 2015

Playing Dress Up: The Senior Version

When parents are faced with snowy days, they invite a neighbor's kid over so the kids can entertain each other, and the parents can get on with the serious business of balancing the check book.  Or watching the game.  The kids go up in the attic and put on the clothes in grandma's trunk.

Faced with yet another snowy day, we too played our own version of dress-up.  Jean came over to Valerie's house with a load of glasses an optician would envy, and we had fun trying on a wide variety of frames.

Having worn glasses on a daily basis for the past 40 years, and being a hoarder by nature, Jean naturally has a large collection of frames (with and without prescription lenses).

From two boxes with about three dozen frames, we each selected six.  The frames pictured above, dating from mid-1970s to about 2008, provided a great starting point for our snowy day adventure. Valerie's half-dozen run down the right side of the photo and Jean's run down the left.

Let the games begin!

These 1986 "Gigantor" frames from l.a. Eyeworks are among her all-time favorites. The matte black frames impart a Groucho Marx vibe to the look. Apparently, they're so popular with the public, the company still carries a version in its current line. Jean paired them with a black satin Chromat neck cage, Amy Downs felted wool turban, Top Shop zip-front peplum jacket, vintage horn and bone earrings, vintage gold and bakelite rings and plastic cage bracelet.

Also dating from 1986 are these Colors in Optics "Sanford Hutton" frames, which she wore to her wedding reception that same year. Today, she's paired them with a surprisingly (for Jean) colorful Ignatius fleece hat and a red plastic necklace made of tiny Barbie Doll high heels from the Brooklyn Museum Store in honor of the "Killer Heels" show.  The black round neck crinkly fabric Brigitte jacket provides a great backdrop to vintage and current bakelite and plastic bracelets. (Can't seem to see the square red bakelite earrings in this shot.)

A girl just never knows when she might have to ride a camel in the Sahara or drive a sled dog team in the Iditarod race through frozen Alaskan tundra!  It always pays to have a pair of expedition wear glasses with leather on the nose to protect against freezing weather and at the temples to keep out sand and snow. Jean actually wore these in the late 1970s to clubs and to sunbathe on the landfill on the Hudson River that became the base of the World Trade Center and World Financial Center. This time, she's paired them with a super long-necked poly fleece neck gaiter with a drawstring hood to protect from the elements.  As always, she's wearing vintage gold and bakelite rings.

These square framed, clear lensed glasses made in England by Booth & Bruce are among the newest in the lot, dating from approximately 2006. Unfortunately, the then-popular East Village optical shop on Avenue A and East 3rd Street has since closed.  Jean added a colorful mohair plaid Amy Downs turban, blue satin Chromat neck cage and blue earrings by Keith Lewis Studio in the Hudson River Valley.  The feather weight earrings are made of recycled water bottles, carved and colored with metallic acrylics.

Gold knotted matte metal frame sunglasses made in Korea are from the mid-1990s. We both thought the vintage red honeycomb weave Issey Miyake parka made Jean look like an alien astronaut.  She added a red silk fan and lots of red plastic and bakelite bangles and rings to cheer things up on the Japanese space station!

These modified cat-eye faux tortoise shell sunglasses from the 1990s by Anne Klein for Riviera work well with a spotted and knotted Amy Downs turban, black knotted rubber earrings by Kirsten Hawthorne, bakelite and gold rings, and a vintage navy blue leather boy's pea coat.

Valerie discovered that playing dress-up with someone else's eyewear is challenging!  After all, the colors and shapes are suited to someone else.  Valerie frequently window shops for glasses, but is still unaccustomed to the amazing world of frames.  Dresses can be bought for a song; glasses cannot.  Dresses can be (should be!) changed every day; glasses cannot.  Buying a pair of glasses is like getting married: it is an institution, not lightly entered into.  The last time Valerie got a price quote, her intern had to whip out the smelling salts.  Valerie has still not recovered, and has yet to figure out how to 'dress' her face.  But she chose the frames she liked the best for today's fun, and came up with these choices.

These pearlized Rochas late 1990s frames don't exactly have polka dots, but they put Valerie in mind of polka dots - thus the hat (Lilly Dache) and the earrings (Jean's mom).  The shirt is from Zara, the jacket is an unlabeled Mugler knock-off.

These huge Liz CLaiborne 1980s frames are hilarious.  They're a bit geeky and masculine, so Valerie had fun trying to add a feminine touch to the outfit. That's a Schiaparelli hat, Ungaro jacket (both from vintage stores), costume red and black earrings, and felted fingerless gloves by Tiiti Tolonen.

Valerie thought this huuuuuge swath of black across her face (Courreges Paris frames from about 2004) called for a bit of amusement, in the form of color, to set it off.  The big felted vintage flower corsage with contrasting stitching was found in a thrift shop, and easily attached to a turban-like black felt hat of the same period.  The gloves and earrings (more or less the same period) are unlabeled, as is the hat.  The ruched silk coat is by Elizabeth Arden.

Valerie liked the two-toned black and white Alain Mikli 1990s glasses in Jean's collection, and pulled out several two-toned pieces to set the glasses off with.   Below is another Schiaparelli hat, with costume plastic earrings, a Ralph Lauren chalk stripe jacket, and vintage black gloves with white insets.

There is no brown in Valerie's wardrobe - none - so when she chose the leopard spot Diva glasses, she thought the best thing to do was go back into her wardrobe for more yellow.  Only the man's double faced cotton weave shirt is labeled - Longue Distance ("made in France"). Jean found the wonderful earrings, whose black dots rise off the surface like tiny pearls.  Except for the shirt, everything is, alas, anonymous.  All of it is second hand, and the hat and gloves are older than Valerie, which is saying something these days.

Although not going out anywhere near the snow (remember, this is the lady who broke her ankle just stepping out into the street on a beautiful summer day), Valerie thought she'd nod to the weather with this last pair of glasses.  You can't see it here, but these Francois Pinton frames have a tiny row of rhinestones at the outer edges and have interesting white feather-spotted temples. Taking her cue from that, Valerie added the fluffy St. Laurent hat, fuzzy gloves and bulky scarf and the black and white coat.  The wooden earrings are by Monies, and the black lacquered wood pin in the hat is by Rumiko Suzuki

Bet your grandmothers didn't have this much fun on a snowy day!


  1. Y'all just are having too much fun!

  2. mean to tell me you've ALWAYS been this fun!!!??!! I wanna play.

  3. I would love to play with Jean's eyeglass frame collection! So cool to see some of your accessories collection in the photos. I'm liking the Chromat neck cages.

  4. I'm in awe of this array of accessories. The glasses. The hats. The gloves. Playing dress up suits you!!!

  5. Very nice show for a snowy day!!!!!
    Each photo a little thrill!!