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Style Alert: ‘The Washington Post’ Says Hipster Glasses Are Over

Yesterday, The Washington Post ran a  2,000-odd word style piece by Ned Martel entitled “Are Hipster Glasses Over? How They Went from Chic to Weak.” Martel begins what will soon become a borderline rant by reporting a story in which White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about his new spectacles, ostensibly during a press conference in which they should have been talking about, oh, unemployment or national security or something boring like that:

After a middling attempt at humor (“The better to see you with”) and flattery (“You guys look great, actually”), Carney settled on humility, pleading that his new square-rimmed, big-lensed, chunky-framed glasses were dictated by “the ravages of age.”
No luck. “But they’re hipster,” a reporter retorted.
“Really?” Carney said. “I thought they were sort of retro-nerdy.”

Carney lost the glasses two weeks later, and Martel calls foul, sniffing at the official “absent-minded dad tale,” and instead suggesting that Carney’s (incredibly normal-looking) glasses were deemed too ‘scary’ for him to sport. Martel goes on to bemoan the idea of glasses as fashion pieces, claiming that “decades ago, everyone who got glasses got the same pair. Glasses were just glasses — a tool, not a statement. Think of NASA Mission Control, with its many bespectacled rocket scientists in Houston evaluating The Problem. Today’s problem is not what we’re seeing with glasses, but what we’re saying with them. Eyewear has become me-wear.” We’re pretty sure even decades ago, people had different styles of eyewear. Unless — how many decades are we talking?

More confusing are the conclusions Martel draws from anyone with a desire to wear these nefarious ‘hipster glasses,’ which, it should be noted, he considers to be a phrase that describes those worn by not only Jay Carney but Iris Apfel, Drew Carey, Gloria Steinem and Kurt Rambis, different as they are. He describes those who wear the “big-and-clunkies” to be implying “I can pull off this look because I’m special,” which is why it was so horrible for Carney to sport his black frames, and wonders how glasses got “to be such a statement of exaggerated self-worth?” Are they? To us, they’re either tools, as Martel points out (but why have ugly tools when you can have whatever color and shape you want?) or a fashion statement akin to any other choice of apparel. Not that we’re saying that what you choose to wear on your face says nothing about you, but why all the flack for thick frames?

Our questions on the logic of frame-hating aside, the real fun comes from a rebuttal from TBD‘s Ryan Kearney, who notes,

The bio at the end of the column says he “wears dead-stock Bausch & Lombs.” That his glasses aren’t made anymore — and that he points this fact out — is hipster in itself, but check out what they look like. Now compare them with Carney’s glasses, which Martel derided. They’re strikingly similar, unless you happen to be some sort of eyewear aesthete — but that would make you a hipster, and Martel is no hipster. Only hipsters, after all, wear aviators for sunglasses. Oops!

Ouch, Martel. But hey — looking good in those glasses.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images via Washington Post

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