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A New York City Guide to Hipster Glasses

Technically, according to the Oxford dictionary, a hipster is defined as “a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.” Beyond that, hipster style often has a vintage feel, reflecting perhaps the idea that what’s old is new again.

But colloquially the word “hipster” has come to describe both a lifestyle and a look. Ask anyone what constitutes hipster style and one of the first, and most iconic, elements that comes to mind is eyewear. One aspect of the hipster look could be classified as nerd-chic. Glasses have long been associated with intelligence, studiousness and even geek culture. But as eyewear design has evolved and glasses have become trendy, many people wear them simply because they look cool.

From the heart of New York City, where hipster style can be seen from Brooklyn to Hastings-on-Hudson to the Flatiron district where 10/10 Optics lives, let’s talk about how to rock the paradoxical look that’s both current and retro and subversive and popular.

What are Hipster Glasses?

So, what styles qualify as “hipster” glasses? In the broadest sense, it can be any style that wouldn’t be considered “safe” or “standard”. The key to finding your perfect pair of hipster glasses is to stop erring on the side of caution and try a more adventurous approach to eyewear.

The first look that comes to mind is usually a thick, square, black rim. Think Zooey Deschanel or Buddy Holly. Of course, as hipster style has become more sought after, it’s become increasingly common to see this type of frame everywhere, from Hollywood to suburban shopping malls.

That’s why our notion of what constitutes a hipster frame has evolved to include a diverse array of variations on this style. Hipster glasses now include a variety of shapes and colors, frame widths and materials.

Hipster Glasses for Women

As hipster styles have become more widespread there are distinct looks that work well for women.

Cat Eye Frames

The cat eye look is so beloved among women, that it’s common to see it in eyewear and eye liner. This is a popular look because it’s dramatic, timeless and trendy, while being nearly universally flattering. Any glasses frame that comes to a point at the top, outside corner of the frame can be considered a member of the cat-eye family. The high outer-eye point mimics the look of high cheekbones, that are often associated with classic beauty. From sunglasses to readers this style is universal. While most cat eye frames will lean toward the hipster look, to really hammer it home, look for thick rims and bold colors.

Oversize Frames

One of the other hallmarks of a hipster look is that bigger is better. This refers to both the thickness of the frames and the size of the lens. This style has become particularly prevalent in sunglasses like those often associated with Audrey Hepburn or Paris Hilton. But they work well for daily eyewear as well. Like high cheekbones, large eyes are considered a stunning facial features and oversize glasses can give the impression of bigger eyes, which is one of the reasons they work so well on many female faces. Oversize frames can be round, square, or another geometrical shape, that widely frames the eye.

Hipster Glasses for Men and Women

While cat-eye styles and eye-enlarging wide frames have classically feminine attributes, most hipster styles are relatively unisex.

Thick, Dark Square Frames

The most well-known hipster look is probably the, black square frame. These are always an option for women, but they are particularly great on men. The shape of a square frame has an angular look that emulates classically attractive male features like a strong, chiseled jawline. It’s a striking look that immediately comes to mind when one thinks about hipster style and culture. When looking for this type of hipster frame, think beyond basic black and also consider colors like dark gray, tortoise shell or other vibrant hues.

Round Frames

While most of these looks can cross gender lines some are more fluid than others. For example, round frames. John Lennon’s small round glasses became nearly synonymous with his name. We saw them again more recently as the specs of choice for “the boy who lived” in the Harry Potter series. This particular hipster look is still popular among men with all facial types. Round hipster frames can be plastic, metal or utilize other materials also long as the frames represents that perfect circular focus. While oversize frames can make eyes appear larger, these bring a smaller, tighter focus to the eye for an effortless, stylish and intelligent look.

Bowline Frames

Both men and women can easily wear glasses frames that are thick on top but rimless or thinly rimmed on the bottom. Emphasized eyebrows can be an attractive feature on men and women which is part of what helps this look translate so easily on either male or female faces. Any frame that is distinctly thicker, or more darkly colored on top, can fit into this category.

Thick Plastic Frames

Many of the above styles can be worn in thick plastic frames or thinner metal frames, but the thicker they are, the more hipster they feel. In all colors, sizes and shapes thick frames have an almost instantaneous hipster effect.

How to Wear Hipster Glasses

One of the trademarks of hipster culture is irreverence. That’s why hipster glasses work on anyone, anytime, for any occasion. Because their roots are in vintage fashion, it often works to wear hipster glasses paired with another part of an ensemble that has a throwback feel. If your new to the world of eyewear fashion trends, consider choosing a hipster style as your second pair, and use them to add a bit of flair to a day that needs a kick start or a night out that demands a special look.

You don’t have to consider yourself a hipster to capitalize on the look. With designs to suit every face and lifestyle, there’s a pair of glasses with a hipster vibe that is perfect for your wardrobe!