A Guide To Vintage Eyewear Sizing

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The very first pair of vintage eyewear that I bought was a glossy pair of black cat eyes with a fire-burst of rhinestones at the edges. It was also memorable because it was the first time I had ordered vintage eyeglasses over the internet. Now, I thought I had done all my research and knew my measurements. According to experts, as long as the bridge and lens measurements were within 2mm of the measurements of a well-fitting pair that I already own, they should fit.

Well, my measurements were 48-19 and the vintage eyeglasses were 46-18. Sounds like it’d work, right? Well, it sort of did. The vintage frames did sit comfortably on my face, even though the bridge was smaller. The only problem was that the width of the frames were way too small for my face! The total frame width was 4 5/8″ on the vintage frames, while on my frames, they were 5 1/4″!

What I didn’t know was that vintage eyewear runs smaller than present day glasses. Back in the day, lenses for vintage eyewear were almost all made of glass, which is heavier than modern plastic lenses. So eyeglasses were made smaller in order to create lighter eyeglasses.

With my next pair of eyeglasses, I made sure to take the frame width into consideration. I found a pair with the measurements of 48-18 and a width of 5 1/4″. Even though the bridge was smaller, this pair of glasses fit beautifully! Since then, I’ve also ordered pairs where the bridge was 1mm or 2mm larger and those glasses fit fine too.

So when buying a pair of vintage cat eye glasses, it’s fine if your lens width and bridge measurements are smaller or larger by 2mm. The width of the frames is a different story. Depending on your tastes, you can decide if you want a frame that is a little smaller or a little larger. Some people like them smaller as that is more authentic, I wanted a more modern look and opted for a larger frame.

Also one final note, don’t worry if the frames you’ve bought seem a little uneven when you put them on (especially if they don’t have lenses, since that is what keeps the frames straight). When it comes to plastic and aluminum frames, your optician warms up the frames and bends it a little to fit your head.


write by Sigourney

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