A trip to the optometrist used to end with new eyeglasses, a pair of lenses that would improve vision, regardless of the frames they came in.
Now, eyeglasses have become more than boring sight enhancers. Much like belts, jewelry or a matching purse, they are trendy fashion accessories with styles that change with the seasons.
"There's a lot of color popular right no. There's also a mixed media of materials used. For instance, with apparel you've got leather and you've got some patchwork and some different things going on," said Lisa Gear, the director of product management for LensCrafters. "But different things are going on with the eyewear, like a plastic front with a metal temple, or a temple that's got some bling on it or some studs or some etching.
"When you pick up a pair of eyewear now, you can turn it three or four different ways and see something different, and that's what's really fun right now."
A decade ago, men and women wore the same shape and look, but today's styles are notably different between the sexes, Ms. Gear said. Women's eyewear includes Chanel frames with camellia flowers, or Vogue with butterflies on the temple, and are pink and lime green. Men's frames are "big and bold and masculine" and might be made of buffalo horn and leather, she said.
Time and effort go into choosing frames that are in style and will be popular in different stores, said Cheryl Welch, the chief operations officer of Eye Care One, an area eye-care chain with five locations.
"There's actually a science behind it," she said. "We do market research on the demographic where our offices are located - extensive research on the market and their needs. For example, if we have an area that has more families, we would make sure to have a good cross section of frames, for kids, teens and tweens."
Hollywood, television and magazines affect trend changes, Ms. Welch said. Squared edges and wider temples and rimless frames are fashionable now, she said.
Rectangular is the most popular shape for adults, Ms. Gear said.
"What we're seeing is a movement ... kind of back to a softer look, though, and eventually, almost back to that round schoolboy kind of look," she said. "Right now, definitely rectangles. If you want to buy something fashionable right now, it's a good shape to go with."
Colors for fall include reds, pinks, lavenders and a recent increase in shades of blue. Animal prints are popular patterns, she said.
Both plastic and metal frames, or a combination, are stylish.
"(Plastic) has grown a lot over a few years. I think that's where a lot of the fun has been because that's where a lot of the color has been," Ms. Gear said. "But we're starting to see a lot of excitement in metals, too, where there's laser etching on the temples and you can do a front color and a back color on metals, and for a while that was a little tougher."
Also popular is owning several pairs of glasses.
"You can have a simple metal or you can go with something heavier, but you wouldn't want to go with either of those all the time," she said. "It's nice to go to extremes.
"There was a time - I can't remember in my lifetime - but where people wore only one pair of shoes, but nobody does that anymore. Or you had your black purse and then your evening bag, but now everybody has a closet full of handbags, too. And I think because accessories are kind of coming up more to the face - scarves are coming back, hats are coming back and I think that'll help (eyewear fashion), too."
Ms. Gear said that fashion-forward glasses are a result of lenses with heavy or strong prescriptions now being available much smaller and thinner. The frames' fashion accents and outfit upgrades also have to do with designers and consumers seeing eyewear differently.
"They are more of an accessory," she said. "I've been in the business for over 20 years, and it's been the age-old problem that people think of it so much as medical, and I would say over the past maybe five years, people definitely get it. It's the first thing that people look at when they look you in the eye."
Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FACE SHAPES AND FRAMES GUIDE
ROUND: A round face has an equal width and length and is characterized by soft curves with few angles, if any.
Frame choices: Angular frames with rectangular or geometric shapes to help sharpen and add definition.
OVAL: Balanced proportions, narrow forehead, jaw line, and a chin that's slightly narrower than the forehead.
Frame choices: Can wear practically any frame shape, but keep the frames in proportion.
OBLONG: Face is longer than it is wide. Chin and cheeks are similar to that of a square face.
Frame choices: Choose round frames and look for frames that cover the center of the face and neutralize the facial length.
HEART: Face is characterized by a wide forehead, narrower jaw line, high cheekbones and a narrow chin.
Frame choices: Butterfly or cat-eye frames, round frames in light colors, frames that are wider at the bottom than the top.
SQUARE: Proportional in length and width, features a strong, prominent jaw line, square chin and broad forehead.
Frame choices: Round, cat-eye or oval glasses or rimless frames with soft edges work best to soften and add contrast to the face.
TRIANGLE: Face is narrow at the forehead and wider at the cheeks. often tapering to the chin.
Frame choices: Cat-eye or butterfly. Choose frames that downplay the jaw line.
Sources: LensCrafters, www.nuglasses.com
The basic eyewear wardrobe should include an onyx frame and a chocolate-brown frame.
When choosing the color, consider your clothing wardrobe and see what blends. If you wear neutrals and black, consider a brightly colored frame, and vice versa.
Choosing frames to correspond with eye color:
Blue: Blue, chocolate brown or duotone frames with a splash of blue to enhance blue eyes.
Brown: Chocolate brown, tortoise-shell, lavender and purple tones.
Green: Shades of green and jade, or, to make the green pop, plum or violet.
Hazel: Shades of hazel or coffee. Green frames will enhance; black or pink will intensify.
In addition to having tips to help you choose the frames that best fit your face, www.lenscrafters.com offers the option of uploading a photo of yourself to help fit glasses for you, and an eyewear personality quiz.