I vividly remember getting my first pair of glasses when I was six years old. They were grey semi-translucent plastic frames, and I acted like I was swimming as we walked through the mall after picking them up. I thought they were the coolest thing ever.
Metal frames became the norm after I outgrew that first pair of glasses, but now, over 2 decades later, I find myself with another pair of plastic frames– Ray-Ban RB5076 frames, to be precise.
And they are the coolest thing ever.
An Unexpected Need
I didn’t seek out a pair of Ray-Ban frames; I wasn’t even looking for new glasses. I found myself suddenly in need of a new pair of glasses when my former pair gave up the ghost quite abruptly in exactly the same way that my pair before that did– the frame broke in half right at the solder joint between an eye piece and the bridge. They were metal frames, and like most metal frames, the solder joints are quite possibly the weakest points in their construction.
The Search Begins
Fortunately, my glasses literally fell to pieces in my hands as I was walking through a Wal-Mart parking lot. My search for new glasses would begin immediately.
Perhaps my eyesight was simply lacking without my glasses, but the type of metal frames that I was used to did not seem to be in abundant supply in Wal-Mart’s optical section. Instead, the shelves were lined with frames that either looked they belonged on Buddy Holly or Paul from the Wonder Years.
What happened? Frame after frame looked like they came from the 50’s or the 80’s. I can forgive the resurgence of the 50’s stylings, but there’s no way I will ever refer to the 80’s as “cool” or “stylish”. I grew up in the 80′s, and style simply was not one the decade’s strong suites.
It wasn’t just Wal-Mart either. This trend of ironically thick black plastic frames or horn-rimmed specs that were perfect for an episode of Happy Days pervaded optical shops everywhere I looked.
The Search Continues
Tired of not finding anything remotely wearable in local optical shops, I shifted my search for a new pair of glasses to the internet.
Now, buying glasses on the internet is a tricky proposition indeed, as you don’t want to go wrong when you’re buying something that you will be wearing on your face day in and day out. Determining the scale of a pair of glasses from pictures on a website is especially difficult, so I would suggest making use of the measurements provided, as the frames’ dimensions are listed clearly on most websites that sell glasses. I found a general size (width/height) that worked for me as I tried on frames locally and went from there.
Like I said, I wasn’t looking for a pair of Ray-Bans when I first started looking for new glasses. However, though I do blame them for making Wayfarer part of the hipster vernacular, some of their frames weren’t half bad. If I had to go with plastic frames (since that’s pretty much all there was), at least the Ray-Bans felt like they were higher quality than my $10 sunglasses and that they would last me a while.
I found a pair or two of Ray-Ban frames that weren’t too bad and took to the internet to see what other options (colors, etc.) there were. It was during this searching around that I came across Ray-Ban’s RB5076 frame.
Along with the straight black frame (which I felt was a bit too much for me), Ray-Ban also offers a 2-tone variant with black on the front and white on the arms.
I was sold.
A couple weeks later, I received the frames in the mail and I took them to Costco to have prescription lenses added to them. At $100 for the full boat (1.67 high index lenses with UV, anti-scratch, and anti-reflective coatings), Costco’s pricing is a seriously good deal at just a bit pricier than the dodgy websites selling lenses in $2 frames, and as an added bonus, I didn’t even have to ship my frames to China (Costco says their glasses are made in California)!
One small surprise was that they charged me an additional $18 for bringing in my own frames because they said they needed to make a custom pattern for them. Kind of steep if you ask me, but then again, I have no idea what it takes to make a pattern for a pair of frames.
12 days later, I had a new pair of glasses.
I’ve been wearing these glasses for just a few days now, and I’ll be posting field notes over time as I use them, but here are some first impressions:
- Love the fit and styling — I was apprehensive about picking these frames up having never tried them on, but I really like the way they look and feel
- Plastic will take some getting used to — I’m used to metal frames with the rubber nose pads. I can already tell that these frames will be slipping down my nose in the presence of any sweat at all. As it is, they do tend to slip down a bit when I’m looking downwards and I find myself daydreaming about adding rubber nose pads to these frames. Anyone know of any such thing for plastic frames?
- 2 Tone is sweet — that is all
- Kind of creaky — Being plastic, there is a slight creaking when the pieces rub against each other at the hinges when the arms are bent beyond 90 degrees. When I first took the frames out of the box, the creaking was pretty jarring, but it has toned down to the point that it doesn’t make any sound in normal use. You shouldn’t be bending the arms beyond 90 degrees anyway, so this isn’t a big issue.
Finally, here are some photos I took of the frames prior to handing them over to Costco to put prescription lenses. Personally, I like the Ray-Ban logo on the fake lenses.