Note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
Disclaimer: I am not engaged in rendering medical services. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
Luxottica controls 80% of the major brands in the $28 billion global eyeglasses industry. Hat tip to Jennifer* (all the more reason to try and save money and not let them be “price markers”.)
It’s a combination of luck and frequency of thrifting where you might be fortunate to find frames that aren’t destroyed. Most of the frames I see in thrift stores have seen better days and are unwearable, especially vintage. You must keep your eyes wide open for good frames as it’s tough to find anything immaculate.
I haven’t had very much luck with eyeglasses through the years, so I’m here to show you how to save money when buying retail eyewear. Next time you’re considering a new pair of glasses, read this!!
So I used to be such a label whore, and I freely admit it. Forgive me because I didn’t know any better! I assumed that if something was made or licensed by a very important designer, then it must be good. It had to be, right?
In the process of learning this valuable lesson, I wasted a lot of money, both when I had it and when I didn’t (via credit cards).
Say it with me, “I do not have to pay a frivolous markup at the optometrist or anywhere else, anymore.” Props to you if you’ve already learned this lesson!
In this post, I’ll be reviewing at least 5 places where you can purchase stylish and quality eyewear for less than you could imagine! Some of these sites also support philanthropy and charity, so it’s a win-win.
Some of my delusions started with fancy sunglasses in the 90’s, when Calvin Klein was in his heyday. This was before you could find his items at TJ Maxx and his name commanded a hefty sum. I remember paying over $200 for a pair of amazing oversized squared off black sunglasses.
Back then, that was quite a lot of money. They’d still be stylish today IF I still had them.
It wasn’t meant to be as I think they were sat on in less than a year. I remember holding the pieces that were left and crying, “whyyyyyy?” After that experience, I was wary of buying another fancy pair to meet yet a similar fate.
I have a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses that I got for my 40th birthday and you bet your tushie that I am super duper careful with them. They’re always in their case when they’re not on my face.
I’ve been challenged in the vision department since the single digits. When I was little, there weren’t any options besides the optometrist to order your glasses or contacts. I remember when 1-800-Contacts started changing the game.
Once upon a time, I saved up for these Giorgio Armani gold frames. I was overly impressed with the fancy bend at the hinges and that they were oval. They also decimated my emergency fund.
They lasted a super long time, to their credit. Not sure what happened to them!
This is my current arsenal of glasses and I’ll go into detail about them.
From top to bottom, in order of purchase: Warby Parker Thatcher in Whiskey Tortoise (now only available as sunglasses), Joseph Marc in frame 4074 and Derek Cardigan in frame 7005 (both from Coastal.com), and Zenni Optical in frame 286216.
None of these broke the bank and the combined total for all 4 pairs would have been the equivalent of a pair of Prada or comparable designer.
I still wear the Warby Parkers as I adore them but the prescription isn’t right anymore AND the right arm is disintegrating. It’s unfortunate there’s no way to fix them, unless I want to get them as sunglasses first and order lenses through Replace-A-Lens.
Replace-A-Lens is an awesome mail order lens service based in Denver, CO. Their customer service is top notch and they have wonderful deals.
Deep down, I wish I could rock cat eyes 24/7. The reality is that my big face looks better in bigger Wayfarer-style frames. Such is life.
Warby Parker offers an amazing home try-on program that can’t be beat. They’ll send you 5 pairs of frames that you select so you can try them on at home.
Unfortunately, not all of the frames are available for this program and the last time I used the program, I didn’t find anything that I liked to replace my beloved Thatchers.
A company that I discovered recently is Fetch Eyewear. Based in Portland, OR, 100% of their proceeds go to animal rescue! Their frames come with a lifetime warranty and start at $125!!
Here’s a screenshot of their offerings for women.
I love their entire concept and some of these frames might really work. Think of the animals, won’t you?
I can’t find these frames anymore, but they were purchased from Spex Club, which later turned into Lookmatic. Note that they’re a smaller Wayfarer style.
Here are some frames on Lookmatic that I think you should check out.
At $99 with free shipping, these Kitty frames are very fashionable and look to be of decent quality. I bet they’d be conversation starters, too.
Their frames start at $99, comparable to Warby Parker and Lookmatic. They also have a neat virtual try-on with your webcam that distracted me for some time.
If I had seen these Keiko frames before I ordered my Derek Cardigans from Coastal.com, I think I would have gotten them instead! They were created in partnership with the lovely blogger Keiko Lynn. Her eyebrows are divine and she’s one of those people on the internet that seems to have it all together. Behold!
Unfortunately, their prices have gone up considerably since I purchased from them earlier this year. These frames were under $99 when I got them a few months ago and have now gone up to $138-$168. Sad face
This is the famous Derek Cardigan in 7005 Black frame. I found these on Instagram, as I follow a ton of stylish makeup artists like Jessica Hayes. The pics of this frame on her (look, it also comes in other colors) and other makeup artists absolutely sold me.
Again, I really want to be a cat eye gal. They are very well made and will last a long time, I hope. Their customer service is terrific, should you need it.
Zenni Optical is where I found my latest frames. They were $15.95 and I purchased the basic standard anti-reflective coating for $4.95. Shipping was $4.95, so they were a whopping $24.95 total. I’m not kidding! They have other frames that weren’t too bad.
I’m honest to goodness impressed with these frames. The main con is that they are very light and cheap plastic, but I paid so little that it’s not a dealbreaker. I’ll need to have an optician adjust them for me as I’m afraid of being too heavy handed and breaking them.
Top pic is from their Instagram of this frame. It’s the 286216 style and it’s very bright in the picture, but is MUCH darker in person. One interesting effect from the brownish red arms is that it looks like there are little red beams on my face when the sun hits me sideways.
Bottom pic is the frame in reality. Not so blue, which is too bad, as I was trying to match my hair. Ah #tealhairproblems
There you have it, 6 places to check out for stylish, inexpensive frames.
Two other ways to save money are to install the Honey browser extension for Chrome, which will automatically apply available coupons to websites (when available). You can use Honey on any e-commerce site and you’re losing money if you don’t have it installed.
I love Retail Me Not, both the app and the website.
Here are some coupons from Retail Me Not that you should try:
Oh, one thing to keep in mind is that you might need your frames adjusted! Sometimes, nothing comes off the rack fitting perfectly without some help (and that goes for clothes, too!). If you have insurance, use your own optician or if you have a Costco membership, see one of their opticians, but not on the weekends, as it’s too packed.
I’ve found both Kaiser’s optometry department and Costco’s opticians to be pleasant and satisfactory.
Happy hunting for frames and let me know your secrets or if I’ve missed any worthwhile contenders.
Have a wonderful Independence Day weekend, everyone!
It’s been two years since the first part of ‘Don’t Get Ripped Off Buying Eyewear’ appeared, yet it’s endured the test of time and is still one of the most popular posts on this site!
I’m still here and guess what? I still need corrective lenses, haha.
“I do not have to pay a frivolous markup at the optometrist or anywhere else, anymore.”
Say it with me. Say it again if you read the first part of this series.
Upon preliminary view of that post, I can tell you that I no longer have these Derek Cardigan glasses. They were excellent, they were fabulous, BUT I ended up selling them for what I paid for them.
Believe it or not, I’ve only got one pair of glasses at the moment that is the correct prescription and aren’t destroyed!! Enter the Keiko style from Bonlook in Barbie Pink. They are $99 on the Bonlook site, but if you sign up for their emails, you get notice of sales. Plus I always use my handy browser extensions Honey and Coupon Cabin to check if there are any meaningful coupons.
The funny thing is that Keiko Lynn recently asked me for permission to repost the pic below in her Instagram story. The backstory is that I’m sitting in the car wash, waiting for the drive-thru rainbow foam magic to happen. You can’t tell from my expression that I’m excited?
I am coveting one of the newest colors of these frames, the Keiko Bonlook frame in the color ‘Moe May.’ I’m waiting patiently for a coupon code because you KNOW I avoid paying retail whenever possible.
Here are the two new colors of the Keiko frame.
Have you ever found “the one”?
Should I rephrase that to “the one pair”? That pair that’s your jam, the pair that makes your eyes sing?
I found that pair a few months ago, but then just as soon as we were enamored with each other, we had to break up. This time, it wasn’t me! It was them.
I and these Valley Eyewear Marmont glasses (different color here) had to break up because they were destroying the bridge of my nose! There was a thick imprint forming because of their weight on my SAD FACE. Luckily I was able to return them. But seriously, major sad face. They were perfect, you know, other than for the destroying my face part. NBD, right?
I also had a pair of the Valley Genius Child sunglasses, but I didn’t LOVE love them and sold them for more than I paid on eBay.
The reason why I only have the Keiko Bonlook glasses as my only functional pair is because my littlest one destroyed this pair that I had from Zenni Optical:
To their credit, this pair of glasses lasted nearly a year. The lenses started losing their coating and got scratched easily but are worth it for being < $30!
After the coating started coming off, I’d attempted an interesting modification.
After sanding off the glossy finish with super fine sandpaper, I used some old Manic Panic that I had in my hair color stash. Manic Panic is useless in my hair, unfortunately, and I find it incredibly overpriced and ineffective.
So I used it to paint the green Zennis! It worked well for about a month before it faded. Maybe if I left them in the dye mixture longer?
The funny thing to note is that the stained glasses would also stain my face! That’s no fun.
So let’s move onto other glasses that I think that you should check out.
Of course, everyone by now has heard of Warby Parker and their stores so I won’t elaborate too much on them. It’s been a long time since I’ve liked any of their frames. The only frames that I like that are currently on their site are the Lowry and the Ella:
Lowry in Jet Black Fade
Ella in Jet Black
Now let’s go back to Bonlook. Before the new colors of the Keiko frame came out, I was seriously considering this pair in the Skunkboy style. $99, same as the Keiko.
Skunkboy in Panda Pearl
I can’t talk about affordable eyewear without mentioning Coastal.com. They’re well known for offering Derek Cardigan and Kam Dhillon frames, and both companies have made very stylish frames in the past.
Perhaps by now, you can tell that I have got a thing for the cat eye shape!? These are two options in the Frankie style, and it’s neat that there are so many colors of this frame.
Coastal.com is offering a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE special with the code ADDUP (as of November 12, 2017). Use it at checkout. These start at $95 a pair.
A low-cost option to also consider would be these Weekend frames from their house brand Main + Central. These are only $35, and they also come in black! A good choice for a backup pair.
My favorite pair of glasses from Lookmatic (formerly Spex Club) is the Patti Goes to Paris frame. $99.
Another stylish frame from Lookmatic (pictured below) is the Madison style.
I’ve never checked out Discount Glasses before, but their closeout section looks interesting. It also appears that if you try to exit their site early, a pop-up window with a discount code of $10 off appears.
“You get what you pay for”? Does that apply here? I really like this pair of glasses.
This style is called Lunettos Jeff and are only $9.95. Can you believe that INCLUDES single vision lenses? It also comes in gray and brown as well. Free shipping and returns, too! I’m not sure this deal can be beaten, so I guess there’s no excuse to not have a backup pair of glasses now?
Try the sort all option at lowest price first to see some crazy deals!
I’ve never heard of Goggles 4 U before, and their UX of the site is fair, but there’s a BOGO promotion going on right now.
Another one I’ve never heard of is Glasses Shop, and they also appear to have a BOGO promotion as well. Upon a preliminary glance, these are the most stylish frames I found. This is the Nicole style. Prices are low as well!
To round out this list of affordable glasses, I’ve got some suggestions if you MUST have some fancy designer frames.
Another option is to go to Overstock.com. I’ve found fantastic deals that include Tom Ford, Gucci, and Fendi.
I’m biased when I say to check out The Real Real for quality used and new designer consignment. Use this search to specifically look for women’s eyeglasses. At the time of this posting, there were some cat eye Dolce and Gabbana frames for $70!
Marvel Optics seems to be a decent option for affordable frames.
Ultimately, I think that hashtags are a quick way to help yourself select frames. They are so liberally used on Instagram, and although I quickly get into #hashtagoverload, I do find some good stuff.
For example, if you used the hashtag #keikobonlook you’d be able to see all the other fashionable people wearing this particular frame (including me, wink). Search away, and you might be surprised.
Pro tip: if you have any debris, dirt, sunblock, makeup, etc., on your glasses, Magic Eraser works wonders! Just be super duper careful that you don’t scratch your lenses while cleaning your glasses as I am not responsible if you hurt them!
So let’s talk about some fancier glasses aka the ones that I would check out if money were no object! I’m feeling the second pair on the first row, the Linda Farrows.
Here are some excellent sunglasses!
Fellas, I haven’t forgotten about you. Here are the glasses and sunglasses that I like.
SO many sunglasses, so little time!
I gifted myself these Tom Ford Nikas for my 43rd birthday! My first pair was a gift for my 40th birthday, so good things come to those who are old or something?
No matter what kind of day I’m having, I feel like a million when I wear these. I panicked for a moment when they were misplaced during packing!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I want to share with you my experience with Sunglass Spot. They’re all over Instagram, and I had to get a pair after I saw a blogger wearing them. Again, hashtags can be your friend! I find the most exciting things on IG this way.
If I had a dollar for every time, I got a compliment on these sunglasses, which are style #773939 I’d have about $300, no joke.
I seem to be liking more prominent shield styles lately, and I think this pair would be a perfect addition to the stable. Black of course, but what other color?
Hopefully, you have more resources with which to make a more educated purchase so that you don’t get ripped off when buying eyewear!
If I’ve missed any other meaningful resources, please let me know in the comments section! I’ll focus on the exciting world of contact lenses in another post shortly. 🙂
Happy glasses shopping!