Making a Spectacle of Myself : It's So You!

Making a Spectacle of Myself

by Mary Sheehan Warren on 04/18/12

Once I couldn't see my food at dinner, I decided to finally give in to getting my eyes checked. Or, at least, give in to thinking about getting my eyes checked.

Once checked, it then took months to actually fill my prescription for glasses. (Yes, the doctor's words were "Eye sight fades as we get old" and "Don't worry this is normal for your forties; just like your gray hair and wrinkles.")

All this angst was played out before my family, especially at dinner.

"Get over it," said my sixteen year old daughter.

"I didn't know you could be so vain," said my friend.

"This is something you need just to function," pleaded my husband. "Don't worry about how you look."

Meanwhile, in public, I would fumble with my phone, hold things closer to the light, and sort of look illiterate to the occasional acquaintance.

But I think my anxiety was deeper than the well-known, garden variety vanity. I really suspect that years of saying "accessories should frame the face," "the eyes should be the focal point" and "makeup is a human right" finally made its way to my basal ganglia.

Getting a pair of glasses is a really really big deal.

Just think: It not only restores vision (and that's a big one) but it's the very first thing people see when they look into my face. It's more noticeable than my earrings, necklace, scarf, and even hair. If I don't get this right, then nothing else matters.

That's heavy, I know.

Consider the fashion of lenses. Back in the nineties when my eyesight was perfect and I could see the little bits of pesto on my pasta, Mr. Pitt (the one from Seinfeld) was wearing ...

 Jarring, isn't it. But many women imitated this look in the quest to appear literate and employed if not sexy.

Imagine the first time I saw the frames favored today. It was 2000 and I was teaching English as a Second Language. A 26 year old Bossa Nova singer from Italy (she was as exotic as this sounds) brought the future into my classroom with lenses that looked like these:


Of course, this pinched-face-librarian look is now old news. (Yes, this is sour grapes because I could never look good in these.) This is the look we expect now. This is the look we see not only in fashion ads but on the homemakers featured on laundry detergent ads, the lady at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and on the mug shot of a famous female killer. This is the look we expect when one is not wearing the opposite round-bug-eye-Jackie-O sunglasses.

(Now that's style!)

 Younger people like the mildly vintage Buddy Holly (or Woody Allen) look.

But I have gray hair. And wrinkles. I can't go around in something like that.

How about a compromise?

So, I looked around at all the styles:

 (Mary Ellin Barrett , daughter of Irving Berlin. Pretty classy, eh?)

 Prada (I'd just look like a dork in these.)


Whoopie! Look at those!

(Iris Apfel, textile guru - My children talked me out of this.)

So what did I decide?

Well, I don't have a photo of myself, but let's just say that in the slight-off-chance possibility that I happen to need to eat or read in your presence, and successfully locate my glasses in my bag, and actually place them on my face, you will experience sensational style that will go straight to your basal ganglia. For the time being, however, you'll just have to use your imagination. Kind of like she does:

 Rita's Advanced Style


Comments (2)

1. Maria said on 4/18/12 - 11:16AM
Oh, Mary, you had me on the edge of my seat and then photo. Come on, it's not so bad. I've been doing the glass schtick for a while. You get used to it except for seminars...I refuse to wear them for those!!
2. Kathy said on 7/10/12 - 10:24AM
My teenage daughter insisted I read your blog page and the eyeglass chapter of your book before we head out to the optical store. I'm leaning towards Rita's look, but afraid it may clash with my diamond much to consider

Leave a comment

ISYFashion no longer accepts clients for personal wardrobe design services. For information on what Mary's been up to, visit