Ask AB: Fashionable Eyeglasses & Editing a Wardrobe’s "Wardrobe Wizard," image consultant Annie Brumbaugh, tackles your toughest questions about looking good in eyeglasses and paring down a lifetime’s worth of clothes.

By Annie Brumbaugh

Looking Good in Glasses

Dear Readers,

This month we’re going to tackle eyewear and overstuffed closets that make every morning into a fashion crisis. Learn how you can zero in on your own personal style and lay the foundation for real wardrobe development.

Please keep your wonderful questions coming to me at

Best regards,Annie

Annie Brumbaugh, AICI,

Q. I am a woman of 54 who must wear glasses. My daughter is getting married this fall, and facial recognition and response would definitely improve the event. I check the society pages, and is it me, or do I hardly ever see women wearing eyeglasses at formal events? How does one look fashionable with glasses? Is it possible to create a signature look with glasses? How can one create an eyeglass wardrobe? I never seem to be happy with my glasses. I did try contacts but they wouldn’t go in or wouldn’t stay in, and I need bifocals (though I do wear the invisible type). — Lydia

A. Dorothy Parker made the famous remark, "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses." There is more rhyme than reason in this. The challenge is to take a perceived liability and turn it into an asset. You yourself came up with the strategy: create a signature look with your specs. If you wear glasses all the time and your prescription is stable, it is great to develop a wardrobe of different options.

You may have noticed that Diane Keaton is wearing glasses on the cover of the February issue of MORE. These glasses are very simple and have a saddle bridge (no nose pads). They are classic, even old fashioned, but modern at the same time. Something minimal like this frame from Lunor would be a great choice for your daughter’s wedding. It is just barely there, but when you focus on it, it is beautiful. The sleek Silhouette rimless frames would work too. They may seem delicate, but I have road-tested them and have been amazed at their durability. There are metals in various colors and finishes available in both types. Pay close attention to the lens shape. Rimless frames can take a variety of lens shapes, so there is no need to limit yourself to the choice in the sample.

Above all else, try on lots of glasses! Like clothes, eyeglasses need to fit. It is important to get the width of the bridge (the part that goes over the nose) and the length of the temple (sidepiece) right. Make sure that the frames sit comfortably at the bridge and that your eyes are centered in the lenses. For bifocals (preferably the progressive type that you wear), you need enough depth in the frames. Antireflective coating is a must for all your glasses. This eliminates glare, and that is crucial when you are being photographed.

For an eyeglass wardrobe, I suggest one minimal option and something graphic and more dramatic, maybe in a great color. Work to enhance your coloring (eyes, skin, and hair), and in turn, that should complement your wardrobe. A smashing pair of prescription sunglasses is a plus too. Fashion is moving in the direction of larger frames, but remember to stay in scale with your face and stature. Another option is transition lenses, which get darker as you move into the light.

Diane Keaton has made the Lunor frames her signature look. I go for a more varied approach, but my eyeglasses are always an important part of my look. For the wedding, I recommend something minimal. Enjoy! You will look beautiful and stylish in glasses.

Editing a Wardrobe

Q. I feel as though I have been in a fashion crisis all my life. Even though I have been told I was "attractive" or that I "have the cutest clothes," every day when I go to my closet to get dressed, I feel like I’m looking through the wardrobe of 10 different women that I don’t know! So while I may emerge looking good, it’s a struggle every day. Any thoughts? — Cyndie

A. You have an unruly bunch of clothes, and what you need is a wardrobe. Right now you can’t see the forest for the trees. You probably have too much stuff. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

The contents of your closet are not an accident; they are a history lesson. Our goal is to edit what you have. Then we can plan what you need.

The first step is to systematically assess yourself and your current holdings. I want you to take a day to focus on this. Send everyone away, even the cat. (Cats love to nest in piles of clothes.) Make sure you have adequate light and a full-length mirror. Check your issues at the door, and really look at yourself with new, kind eyes. Remember your younger self and all the styles and trials you’ve been through. Who are those women whose clothes are in you closet? Ask yourself, Who am I now, where am I going, how do I want to look?

Go through your wardrobe piece by piece, trying on most things. This may sound painstaking, but trust me, it will be worth the effort. I recommend approaching this by category: jackets, pants, skirts, blouses and shirts, shoes, bags, scarves, belts, and jewelry. Create areas for keepers, recycling, cleaning, and alterations.

Start with the things you like, and try to figure out what makes them a success. Is it the cut, the color, the fabric, the styling, the fit? Work your way through to those orphans in the back of the closet. In order to be a keeper, a piece must fit, look good and current, feel comfortable, and tell your story of today. It must also have friends (things that go with it).

It’s off to the giveaway pile for anything that doesn’t fit. (No, you’re not going to be a size 6 again, and if you were, you wouldn’t want to wear this.) Likewise if it is out of date. (No, shoulder pads of the ’80s are not coming back.) Sometimes exceptions can be made for real couture clothes or collector’s items like the dress you wore to your second wedding. These things go in "archives," housed separately from your current wardrobe. Get rid of anything worn or spotted. "I’m tired of it" and/or "I just don’t feel good in it," are perfectly legitimate grounds for dismissal.

And then there are the items with the price tags still attached. These are the heartbreakers. Be assured that everyone has some. They may have been bought on sale, but they did add up! And you feel bad every time to look at them. Assess how and why you bought each thing and why it was a mistake. Now let it go.

Recycle! Let’s give your rejects a chance to see the light of day in someone else’s life. Sometimes you can offer specific pieces to people you know; i.e., the sweater that is too small for you but would look perfect on your friend. Do this only in a very targeted way. Everything else, give to a local charity. The sooner the better.

Now that you’ve routed the underbrush, arrange your clothes by category and color. Separate out obvious fall/winter and spring/summer things. Now you can better see what you have and what you need. Relationships between pieces will become apparent, and you’ll be able to make outfits you never dreamed of just from what you have in your closet! You will feel like a new woman when everything in your closet is wearable and visible and you know how to work with it.

For help answering your toughest clothing-related questions, e-mail Annie at and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.

Read how Annie helped MORE senior editor Marcia Menter build a wardrobe that works and find Annie’s top 10 wardrobing tips in "Closet Case: A Personal Stylist and Me."

Visit Annie’s Web site,, for more information on her work.

Originally published on, February 2007.

First Published Mon, 2009-04-06 18:06

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