The most alluring accessory of the moment? A pair of prescription eyeglasses

In September 2021, Meta, in collaboration with Ray-Ban, introduced its inaugural pair of “smart glasses.” These futuristic frames, akin to an Apple Watch for your face, promised to redefine modern living by granting individuals the ability to listen to music and capture photos while on the move. It was an innovation like no other, a leap into uncharted territory. Yet, it also emerged as one of the most geeky developments in the realm of eyewear since the 13th-century Franciscan friar Roger Bacon invented the magnifying glass to enhance his reading experience.

Much like the magnifying glass, which, let’s be honest, hasn’t seen much use since the 1250s, these Facebook glasses struggled to carve a niche in mainstream fashion. Part of the reason was Mark Zuckerberg’s promotional video in which he began with the words “Hey everyone!” But it was also due to the glasses themselves, which resembled something tailor-made for adults who indulged in fan fiction about the Spy Kids franchise. In other words, the fashion world doesn’t quite embrace real-life nerds as readily as it does those who adopt the “nerds ;)” aesthetic – individuals who sport Bayonetta-style spectacles and vintage cardigans despite being popular and physically attractive.


When figures like Julia Fox, Gabriette, and Bella Hadid adorn sensible Specsavers glasses (often with the sticker conspicuously left on the lens), it becomes an ironic statement that somehow enhances their allure. Much like when Gisele Bündchen sported those unassuming rectangular frames back in 2006, it’s the deliberate act of dressing like a nerd while looking like a supermodel that creates a campy, costumed effect. It’s a case of “having it both ways,” although the irony is that this exchange predominantly flows in one direction: nerds can’t easily masquerade as the cool kids, for scaling the social hierarchy from the bottom to the top is far more challenging than the reverse.

Elliot Hoste, a culture writer and self-proclaimed “fashion person,” shares his thoughts on his own eyewear, saying, “I’m not sure if they suit me, but I appreciate their inherent nerdiness and how it can be balanced with other elements in an outfit. When I pair them with cornrows and plenty of jewelry, the contrast between the ‘nerdiness’ and ‘trendiness’ intrigues me. I embrace the concept of an ‘understated statement.’ It’s about redefining the ugly and transforming it into something cool. Besides, all the other styles seem to be taken: clear-framed glasses are for middle-aged creatives, and round ones are for ‘soft bois’ who read Proust on the Tube for attention.”

With their rimless, rectangular design, Hoste’s glasses might be more Pythagoras than Proust (possibly due to the contrast between sharp angles and curves), but they tap into the same vintage intellectual vibe that surfaced at Miu Miu’s autumn/winter 2023 fashion show in Milan. On the runway, models strutted in librarian skirts, offbeat tights, framed by oval glasses, and with strands of hair artfully tousled into post-coital frizz. It exuded a distinct “sexy secretary” meets “hot nerd” aesthetic, even if those models would likely balk at the stringent lifestyle stereotypes often associated with being a genuine nerd.

In Milan, Liana Satenstein, the mastermind behind NEVERWORNS, had an epiphany: glasses could transcend mere utility and become a subtle peek into someone’s personality. In her newsletter, she expressed, “Instead, they are a saucy little hint into someone’s personality.” This revelation prompted her to acquire trapezoid-shaped glasses with pale blue accents. She envisioned herself in a rimless iteration reminiscent of 1998, portraying a bookish yet alluring individual who effortlessly rotated cashmere black turtlenecks and styled her hair with a claw clip, allowing a few unruly tendrils to frame her face.

While Hoste acquired his first pair in 2019 and humorously suggests he might have kick-started the trend, these “nerd specs” are rapidly becoming a staple in the fashion world. Influencers who wear glasses are sharing “teacher slay” videos on TikTok, stylists like Jamie-maree Shipton are incorporating them into seductive editorials, and Issey Miyake introduced alluring titanium hexagonal frames. Consequently, searches for “rimless glasses” and “Bayonetta glasses” have surged by 44% and 65%, respectively, on Depop in just the past month.

This trend is a welcome development because, as Satenstein aptly observes, there’s a certain romance in adjusting lightweight glasses on the nose and meticulously ticking off items on a clipboard. Perhaps your hair is casually swept up, and you’re donning an unbuttoned collar shirt? It’s undeniably sexier than the chunky graphic design glasses that have historically adorned the faces of the visually impaired. These glasses aren’t just a “deck” or a “supplied asset”; they’re like annotated lines of prose, an “A+, see me” scrawled in the margins of a workbook. Slipping them on gives you the illusion of a hidden inner life, much of which you choose to keep to yourself because you’ve become a tad more secretive about your affairs. This is the very thing that Meta Ray-Bans, with all their selfie-enhancing Facebook stories technology, could never quite achieve.