updated 4 Dec 2011, 11:33
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Fri, Dec 02, 2011
New Straits Times
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Shades that flatter
by Meena Sreenivasan


THERE was a time when wearing a pair of glasses meant the end of the world. But these days, it's become an excuse to make a spectacle of yourself and to get a wardrobe full of fashionable eyewear, be it for sun protection, reading or other needs.

Stylish and functional, spectacles make great conversation subjects.

There's such a huge selection of sunglasses styles, prices and features that it is sometimes hard to decide which pair would suit you best. Some even have rhinestone and embellishments which make a statement about the wearer and are as good as wearing a piece of jewellery.

Eyewear Creations Group executive director Derrick Hoo says it is common today to own several pairs of shades. Having been in the eyewear industry for more than 24 years, he is a pro when it comes to giving advice on what frames complement Asian faces.

"Eyewear is considered a fashion accessory. There are so many colours and shapes available for different attire and occasions. For an interview, you might want to wear a more serious looking pair. It's all about the image you want to portray. If you are going to a party, you may opt for colourful frames that are casual and funky. If you are taking part in sports, pick something that wraps around and gives you ample coverage," he says.

Fit first

There are several points to consider when buying eyewear. The fit is important because the frames have to sit properly on the nose and must be comfortable. Locating a good eyewear shop with experienced sales personnel who can help you pick the right pair is the right thing to do.

"Getting the right fit is essential for comfort, protection, and optical performance. You may have heard of terms such as European fit and Asian fit. If sunglasses sit too low on your face or slide down your nose, touch your temples or cheeks, or feel narrow at the sides of your head, then it's not for you. The lower rim should not touch the cheeks or sit too far away from the cheeks. A frame should fit perfectly," he says.

Most brands have fits for Asian faces, where the nose bridge is narrower and deeper, and longer pad mounts are used on certain frames to give you more room for adjustment. The nose pads should help the frame sit higher on the face and stay comfortable.

Sunnies side up

"Most models for sunglasses and frames in general have Asian and European fits. In the European fit, the bridge is wider and the nose pad is lower. Asian faces are wider than European faces. When shopping for a pair, always ask for the Asian fit. The other option is to go for a pair of frames with adjustable nose pads," says Hoo.

He recommends spring-pinch temples which won't go out of shape and frames made of sheet metal or titanium for lightness.

"Plastic frames are also fashionable, and is advisable if your lenses are thick. If you need high-powered glasses, choose smaller frames because the bigger it is, the thicker it will appear on your face".

Eyewear Creations was established in 1991 (Hoo joined the company in 1996). During that period, Korean and Japanese frames were popular and brands in demand were Jean-Paul Gaultier and Giorgio Armani.

"Those days, it was just basic frames. By mid 2000, the eyewear industry was flooded with too many designer labels.

Traditional type

Malaysians are still pretty conservative when choosing eyewear. Their favourite colours are gun metal, black and matte brown. Plastic frames in semi brown or black are also popular," says Hoo.

"When it comes to selecting a pair of glasses, it's subjective. My advice is to be adventurous and try new shapes and colours."

IC!Berlin from Germany is currently very popular. The entire frame is made from sheet metal and there are no screws on the frames.

"The frames will never go out of shape. It has a black front and gold-plated temple. You can also get a good grip on the frames," he says.

According to Hoo, the trend for eyewear now leans more towards aviators and retro-shaped glasses.

"The 80s is very in now. Two-toned vintage or contrasting tones are also in demand," he says.

Among the brands offered by Eyewear Creations Group are Markus F, 999.9, Viktor & Rolf, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, M. Missoni, CK Calvin Klein, IC! Berlin, New

Balance, Levi's and Fusion as well as its house brands, Ideco and Bling.

Tips on buying sunglasses

• Look for labels indicating at least 98 per cent UV protection or 98 per cent UVA and UVB protection. If the label only says "UV absorbing" or "blocks most UV light" or there is no label, don't buy.

• For the best sun defence, look for sunglasses that "block all UV radiation up to 400 nanometers" which is equivalent to blocking 100 per cent of UV rays.

• Sunglasses should cover the sides of your eyes to prevent stray light from entering. Wraparound lenses are best.

• Look for close-fitting glasses with wide lenses. Avoid small lenses or John Lennon-style sunglasses.

• UV protection is not related to how dark the lens is. Sunglasses tinted green, amber, red and gray may offer the same protection as dark lenses.

• Polarised lenses block the horizontal light waves that create glare. But remember, polarisation itself does not block UV light.

The right shapes

Looking for spectacles that will flatter your face? Below are some shapes that might work for you:

Traditional rounded: These go well with a round or oval face. To make your face appear thinner, choose a pair of sunglasses with brow bars.

Square: These are suitable for a diamond or oblong shape, such as the Ray-Ban Wayfarer. Be sure to shorten your face with sunglasses that do not extend past the widest part of the cheekbones.

Traditional aviators: These teardrop-shaped lenses look especially good on someone with a square face. They help soften the jawline and forehead.

The new aviators (slightly squared): These have a square, angular shape and can really flatter a round face, because the vertical lines of the lenses will create the illusion of length. The brow bars on the aviator style makes the face look thinner too.

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