My super sneaky glasses secret


OK, so it was abundantly clear that top buns and geeky glasses were all the rage at ALT (we already knew this ladies, right?). Well I have to share with you all my super sneaky way of acquiring prescription glasses for OH so much less.
Just to give you some background, I starting doing this over 10 years ago when I found a $12 geeky pair of glasses at Claires that I liked (yes, I said it Claires! that teeny bopper shop in the mall). I wore them around a bit as a fashion accessory but then later thought, hey, I like these so much I want to turn them into prescription glasses (yes, I officially do need glasses). So I took them to my local optometrist and in no time at all (and hardly any $$) I had my own custom pair of glasses for super cheap. Well let me tell you, these glasses have held up! If the prescription wasn’t old (I could always get it updated) I’d still wear them because they are in GREAT condition. And they were from Claires people. I wanted to take a picture of them but they are currently MIA (tucked away in some drawer I’m sure).
Now contrast that with these high priced prescription glasses I got about 5 years ago. These certainly have NOT held up for the long haul. Yes, I do have two little boys that love to bend and stretch my glasses when I’m not looking. But they have had their way with my Claires pair and they are still as good as ever (I’m going to find them and put a photo up, because you have to see them).
Well, as is the way of life, my eye sight has deteriorated a bit and I needed new glasses, again. I knew for sure that I didn’t want to spend $$$ on hi priced frames again so I went shopping…in the mall. And I found the perfect pair at Express, for only $29.90.
I nabbed them and went straight for my department store optometrist (I’m thinking cheap people). The lenses were only $50 and it took less than two weeks to get them. And I LOVE them! I did have to get used to the weight of the larger glasses but they work great. And with this price, I’m seriously in the market for more!! This is the great thing about this little secret, you can afford several pairs. I also think it’s a wallet friendly way to try out trends when you are not quite sure you are ready to dive in with both feet.
Now I know there are online glasses retailers that offer frames for a great deal. I’ve never gone that route because I like to try my glasses on. Not all frames work on everyone. I had tried on a number of these chunky geek chic glasses – before finding these ones at Express – and didn’t like the way they looked on me. However, having said that, I did just order these frames from Modcloth and will have to see how they work. If I like them, you better believe I’m taking them in for prescription lenses. Oh the possibilities are endless!
So what about you? Have you done this? Have you ordered online from some of the inexpensive sites? Did you like the results? If so, please share your sources. If not, I highly suggest hitting up your local mall. You never know what you might find.


  1. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    I ordered mine from Warby Parker. It was fun. I had a friend help me pick out my 5 try-on pairs. I chose the frames I liked the best and had them ready with my prescription in just a few days!

    Yours look great on you. Good choice.

  2. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    MY husband tends to go for the expensive glasses(currently sporting D&G no bottom rim – his latest obsession) Oh and we spend HOURS (kids in tow!) looking at glasses that all look pretty much the same, but of course are not! The size and shape of the frame are VERY important and must be tried on! BUT for sunglasses we always score some cheap $5 pair from a street vendor and and have prescription lenses put in.I am finally getting to where I NEED glasses to read almost anything. I probably need a prescription, but I’ve been making due with $1 readers from the Target bargain bin. They actually have some cute frames. I stock up that way if the kids get hold of them it’s no biggie (I mean it isn’t a biggie at $1 a pair just that Target doesn’t always have them!)

  3. Reply

    Tara Celeste

    January 25, 2012

    What a great idea! I can’t believe I never thought to do this. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Adrienna, do share what online discount store you went to. I’d love to know!

  5. Reply

    Kersey Campbell

    January 25, 2012

    I buy cheapo frames on ebay a lot. They usually have a wide selection. The last pair I bought was $8 with free shipping!

  6. Reply

    Mara Kofoed

    January 25, 2012

    LOVE IT!!! I did this same thing back in the late nineties with my first pair of tortoise shell glasses. I got them from Walgreens on the reading glasses rack. I took them right in to Lenscrafters to get prescripts put in and I remember them charging me like $30 or so. I had 10 friends that went and did the same thing w/ those tortoise shells. We all just thought we were so smart. hahah. Ever since I’ve kept my eyes peeled at the pharmacy.

  7. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    LOVE this idea! For a while I used a pair of frames from high school, just getting new lenses in them each time my prescription changed. I am doing this next time (as I sit here with my glasses that have been stretched to death by Jane.)

  8. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    I have frames for specs and sunnies that I’ve bought at op shops and then had my optometrist fit my lenses to. My fav are a 1960s pair of cateye frames, made in France, no less, that cost me $2. And when you’re at the oppy, ask to see the budget specs they sell to pensioners. I’ve one pair from that pile that cost $38 and are fabulously hip – if I do say so myself.

  9. Reply

    Jenny B

    January 25, 2012

    I didn’t know you could do this!! Thanks for the tip.

  10. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    Mara I used to stock the reading glasses as well! I found a really great pair in Anthro one year, but never did put prescription lenses in them. Will have to do that some day.


  11. Reply

    Marigold Haske

    January 26, 2012

    Great idea! I hadn’t ever thought of buying “fashion frames” and getting lenses put in them. I once grabbed some frames at a Paul Frank warehouse sale for $30 and had lenses put in for $50. Before then, I always paid $200-$300 for glasses that also did not hold up as well as my cheap ones. I also recently make a purchase from Zenni Optical. I was nervous about it, but for $30 total (including frame, lenses and shipping!), I figured there wasn’t much to lose. They have a feature where you can upload a pic of yourself and “try on” frames. What I also did was measure my Paul Frank frames that fit me really well and checked them against the measurements of the pair I like online. So far, I love them.
    The quality was much better than I expected for $30. I’ll stop sounding like an ad now…

  12. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    Marigold – so much helpful inspiration. Will definitely have to try the online site. You’re right, you really can’t lose for that price!

  13. Reply

    Tina Peterson

    January 27, 2012

    I have a pair of frames that I’ve had for over 10 years. They were a pair of Donna Karans designs – can’t get them anymore anywhere. So, I get them updated every couple of years. They were about $250 probably (I need a special prescription) and I’ve only ever had to replace a screw and the nose pads.

    Now the cheaper frames just don’t hold up for me unfortunately. I sure wish they would.

    I found you in the one of the magazines at Barnes & Nobel and thought I would visit. =D Tina ‘the book lady’

  14. Reply


    January 27, 2012

    I heard of people doing this on NPR. I’m due for some new glasses. I’m totally hitting up Claires! I love all your cool ideas Mer!

  15. Reply

    Diana Smith

    January 30, 2012

    Hey Mer! It was so fun meeting you at Melissa’s house Saturdat night!! Your blog is super darling , and so is your shop!!


  16. Reply


    January 30, 2012

    so great to meet you too Diana!

  17. Reply


    January 30, 2012

    I always did this in high school! Bought cheap frames on the streets of ny andthn took them to my optometrist.

  18. Reply


    February 16, 2012

    You are so gorgeous!!

  19. Reply


    June 14, 2012

    New to your blog and I love the frames! Great idea.

    Hope you don’t mind me asking about your beautiful shawl/cape/sweater. Did you knit it? If so, is there a pattern? I Love it and it looks great on you.


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