In the nearly three hundred posts that I’ve written for this site over the past couple of years I’ve covered a pretty inexplicable range of topics – from robes, to Rodney Dangerfield, to Ralph Lauren wearing a crown. And that’s just the “r’s.” But there’s also a fair amount of topics that I’ve never even touched upon. Some of that is because I simply don’t have the expertise (for example if you want to read about watches, just head on over to Hodinkee, as Ben Clymer and crew have probably already covered whatever chronometer related query you may have), and sometimes it’s simply a case of me not caring about an item, such as shorts which I haven’t worn in years. But if there’s one thing I’m always surprised I’ve never covered it’s glasses.
Granted, I’ve worn the same pair of eyeglasses for about five years now – a pair my hometown optometrist made from back when I was first diagnosed with subpar eyesight, which have served me just fine so far (although at this point they’re cloudier than a May day.) But, where I always struggle is in the sunglasses department. The one pair that I do own, one of many misguided purchases over the years, are Ray-Bans “New Wayfarer,” of which I can only assume the design team confused “new” with “too small for your Charlie Brown-esque head.” Of course there’s a fine line between glasses that are diminutive and a pair of “Stunner Shades” that could be found at an MC Hammer IRS fire sale, and smack dab in the middle of that spectrum lies the Persol 714.
If the three above photos weren’t enough of a tip off, the 714 belongs squarely in Steve McQueen territory. Along with Playboy boots, belted moto jackets, and tweed sportcoats, the 714’s were a crucial component of McQueen’s style (Persol even did a McQueen collection which Michael Williams reviewed a couple years ago), but at this point, saying “Steve McQueen wore them, therefore they’re cool” holds about as much value as a VHS of Bullitt. Despite the plethora of classic McQueen shots in 714’s (sorry I couldn’t resist, I mean the man actually wore the sunglasses on and off screen, and I’m a sucker for any hint of “authentic” celebrity style these days) the biggest two selling points for me on the 714’s are that they’re actually substantial enough to shade my whole field of vision, and they’re foldable. Sure, there are more weak points in a foldable pair of spectacles, but they’re also far more functional because they can literally fit anywhere, especially close at hand in the crucial chest pocket of any solid summer shirt.
The other day my friend asked plainly, “Why aren’t more glasses collapsable?” And really I wish I had the answer.