Over the past couple of years I’ve had a series of what felt like killer sunglass finds, in the form of really cool frames at ridic knock down prices.
Access to such style steals was one of the consolations of moving from beautiful Australia (sob sob), back to the UK, where there is such a plethora of great cheap fashion chains stores.
The first was a pair of oversized very black-lensed Jackie O-style numbers that people always asked me about. They were £2 in Primark. I grabbed the last pair (before running screaming from that horrrrrrible shop).
Then I found another really good shape, a kind of pumped-up cats eye from Dorothy Perkins for the greater investment of £6.
I’d love to show you how great they were but I can’t because both pairs have long since been assigned to the bin. They fell to bits. An arm fell off, a lens fell out, that kind of thing.
This year I headed back to the high street stores and found a pair similar to the lost oversized cats eyes, scaling up to a massive £8 outlay. The flare on the lenses was so terrible in bright sunlight they were dangerous to drive in. I threw them in my daughter’s dressing up box.
I had the same problem with a pair of pretendy vintage, actually made in China, Mad Men-style true cats eyes I bought on holiday in Corsica, for a rip off £25. They’re a great shape – for wearing indoors, on dull days.
A pair from Top Shop were a good big television size, but so heavy on my nose they were actually painful. They went to a charity shop. I think they were £12.
My next manoeuvre was to hit T K Maxx, the hugely successful chain which sells off terrifying amounts of random unwanted stock. They always have a large choice of low-rank designer sunnies pretty cheap. That’s because none of them are quite great.
But at that moment I was desperate for some serious sun block-out shades, so I dealt £22 for a pair by Moschino, despite the fact they have the designer name on the arm, which makes me shudder. And a little diamante which, in retrospect, makes me feel quite sick.
They got me home in strong low sunlight, but I very quickly came to hate them. I knew they were a compromise style I would never have bought at full retail. And they felt flimsy and naff on my face. I’ve stowed them in the car glove box in case of future driving emergencies.
Still determined to have a new pair of sunnies, my next move was a designer consignment boutique. I was tempted by a pair of massive D &G in a Union Jack print, but resisted when I realised they looked like they had cost £2 from Primark.
After trying on every pair in the shop, I finally dealt for a pair of discreet very dark tortoiseshell Calvin Kleins, once again compromising on the dreaded logo, for £26.
They have very good lenses. I hate them.
At this point I stopped and took stock. Over two years I had spent nearly £100 on sunglasses and still had nothing decent to wear. Shortly after that sunk in, I caught up, separately, with my two best gal pals and both of them had amazing shades on.
Really glossy black frames, in great, dateless shapes, fabulously dark lenses. Proper UV screening glass. They were both from Cutler and Gross, so we’re talking about £279.
That’s when the truth hit me. I’m too poor to buy cheap sunglasses. I need to invest in one really amazing pair.
So when I got an email telling me that my friend Tom Herrington (pictured below, wearing one of his own designs) had his new range of frames Rock Optika – available as specs or sunnies – in store, I waddled off there as fast as my fat little legs would carry me.
And I bought these fabulous sunglasses – the style is called Key Largo -but with much darker lenses, which I was able to specify. You can’t do that in Dorothy Perkins. They weren’t quite as expensive as Cutler and Gross, but very nearly. They were worth every penny.
They’re handmade in the Jura region of France, from super duper finest organic grade Italian acetate. The lenses are the highest quality and they sit lightly on the nose and ears, while feeling completely secure on the head. And the logo is discreetly hidden right at the tip of the arm, so it’s hidden in your hair. Here they are in the tortoiseshell (on Katherine).
For further endorsement of the excellence of the range, check out the post on RockOptika on the highly respected ‘eye wear’ website The Spectacle Showcase. http://www.thespectacleshowcase.com/ And here is a link to the brand’s own site. http://www.rockoptika.co.uk/Site/Home.html
I’m absolutely mad about them and whenever I put them on I feel like a film star and because they were so expensive, every time I take them off I carefully put them back in their neat protective case.
I will never buy cheap sunglasses again.
NEWS FLASH: So many of you are asking on comments where you can buy RockOptika… Tom tells me he has had interest already (before this…) from a Melbourne retailer and they’re going to meet up at the big eyewear exhibition in Paris later this month. So fingers crossed. I’ll get him to keep me posted on stockists after that and will report back.