Fashion: The joy of specs

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The Independent Online

Four eyes are better than two this autumn. Or a lot more fashionable, anyway. So commiserations to anyone who might recently have invested their hard-earned cash in laser vision-correction or a 12-month supply of contact lenses. And also to anyone who has purchased a pair of understated designer specs. You'd all have been better off sticking with a pair of old-school, NHS-style frames.

The return of geeky glasses has been simmering away for a couple of seasons (Paul Smith accessorised his summer '08 womenswear with thick-rimmed specs), but this autumn they've upped their cachet as a hot unisex trend. Sonia Rykiel opted for oversized round glasses reminiscent of Dangermouse's sidekick Penfold at her Paris show, while Dolce & Gabbana sent an army of male models down the Milan runway in tartan suits and heavy black rectangular frames.

Off the catwalk, nerdy spectacles have been gracing a number of fashionable faces, many of whom no doubt have 20/20 vision. The key to the look lies in matching the ugliness of the glasses with the prettiness of the countenance, which explains why the most successful examples come courtesy of hot young things Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Josh Hartnett. However, offbeat dressers such as rapper Kanye West prove that you don't have to be a teen pin-up to work this style.

One final word on the subject: this trend is entirely unrelated to a certain female vice-presidential candidate, whose rather démodé rimless glasses have sold out in some parts of the US. So get reaching for those thick-set nerd frames unless you want to be taken for someone deeply unfashionable... or a Republican.