If you have been searching for eyeglass frames with vintage style, some of the first terms you will come across are “vintage eyewear” and “retro eyewear.” Understanding these different terms can help you be sure you are getting the right style of eyeglass frames.
In general, vintage eyewear and antique eyewear are authentic frames originally made when that frame style was popular. As a result, frames that are usually considered date from around the 1980s to any years prior. Many of these glasses, even those first made in the 1800s, are still used as wearable frames, although more delicate ones may be simply antiques for display.
Retro glasses are modern glasses that manufacturers make to imitate vintage styles. They have all the look of historic eyewear, but use contemporary manufacturing methods and materials.
The advantages to the two different kinds of vintage style glasses can help you determine which one is best for your needs.
Differences Between Vintage Glasses and Retro Glasses
The differences in materials, production methods, and design can have certain advantages that may make one pair better than the other when it comes to eyeglasses you intend to wear daily, use in theater or on screen, add to a costume, or display. These are some of the main differences to know”
- Glasses Material – Companies make retro glasses with the latest materials. This offers some benefits in terms of comfort and durability since many modern materials are lighter and often stronger as well, especially when you consider that a pair of early plastic glasses has existed for several decades already, causing the material to weaken. New materials will not necessarily have that authentic look and feel, however, which can make true vintage glasses the better choice as long as you can handle them gently.
- Fit – The average head size has increased over the past decades, so vintage glasses tend to be smaller. Antique glasses from the 1800s also use a smaller frame width that can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for today’s glasses wearers. Retro glasses keep the look of older glasses, but are made to fit the modern face. They are also often produced in a range of sizes to make it easier to find a pair that fits you. However with any glasses, modern or vintage, you should always pay careful attention to the sizing and measure your own face for the best fit.
- Cost – Like many antique versus modern products, authentic glasses will tend to have a slightly higher price tag than retro glasses. The manufacturing process for these glasses was more painstaking and the current rarity adds to this cost. Many retro glasses, which can be more quickly manufactured on demand, will often be cheaper, although the overall price of either pair does depend on the quality. It is possible to find retro glasses today that go for much more than original antiques. Many vintage eyeglass frames are also affordable simply because there were so many produced at that time.
- Condition – Retro glasses will be guaranteed new and unworn. This means they will also be free of scratches, cracks, or wearing on the frames. Vintage frames may be unused, in which case they are often referred to as “new old stock” or NOS. Opticians purchased these from glasses makers, but never sold them to customers. Other vintage glasses may be worn and have signs. Some people like these small defects as signs of the glasses’ history, while others want a pristine pair.
One similarity, in addition to styles often being the same, is that you can use both vintage and retro glasses with your prescription lenses or sunglasses. An optician can switch out the lenses on either pair, so long as the vintage glasses are not too fragile and have the necessary screws, to make both suitable for wearing.
When considering which type of glasses you would like to purchase, it can be useful to consider how you will be using the glasses. For a cherished accessory, authentic vintage glasses are often a nice touch since you get to wear a bit of history along with stylish rims. On screen and on stage, retro glasses may be a better option to withstand any rough treatment.
In reenacting or when wearing your glasses as part of a costume, antique glasses can maintain the authenticity of your outfit and help you get more into your persona, or retro glasses might be better if you engage in more active roleplay, such as live military reenactments.
At Eyeglasses Warehouse, we make it possible to find the right pair of both retro spectacles and vintage frames. We have a large selection of antique and vintage spectacles to help you find a pair in your size, price range, and desired look. We also offer our own line of retro glasses in many of the most popular vintage styles, all produced with high quality materials and construction techniques for a pair of frames that looks great and will last for years. Check our our inventory of vintage and retro glasses today.