It took a while for me to work out why ladies frames don’t fit me. Luckily when I did, I had the skills an connections to design and make glasses to suit my face shape.
I started wearing glasses when I was seven. Back then there wasn’t as much choice of kids frames as there is now. I was issued a pair of brown square NHS glasses, the same style that I’m sure thousands of little girls like me ended up wearing.
I wasn’t impressed.
Ironically, I’ve grown to love those old NHS styles. They are timeless and have a utilitarian design that evokes an era of UK manufacture that has sadly disappeared. Made from quality materials and built to last. So much so we hold onto some unworn vintage NHS stock in our shop.
By the time I was a teen the NHS had issued a catalogue so I could at least choose the frames I was being prescribed. This was the 80’s and many of the styles reflected this period of spectacle design. I had a choice of two. A pair of large ladies’ frames, reminiscent of those made famous by Anne Kirkbride’s character Deirdre Barlow. And a larger male frame in the style of those worn by Ronnie Corbett. It was clear a problem was developing that would plague my spectacle wearing future.
Although the Barlow’s were massive, the bridge was small and as a result sat high up on my nose. This led to the lenses framing my entire eye socket, eyebrows and half my forehead. Being a narrower ladies’ frame, they looked small on my head, the temples angling outwards to reach my ears. Not a good look. As a teen with an increasing self-awareness I knew that they were not the frame for me.
The Corbett’s were thick, black and with a wider, male fit. They sat on my bridge properly and didn’t look tiny on my face. Much to the outrage of the optician, these were the frames for me. He let my mother know that this was not standard practice and tried to direct me to the ladies frame. My mum was steadfast in backing up my decision and I left that day with those big black Ronnie’s.
I started working in optical shops while studying Fine Art at university. I had worked at high end retailers all over London. Every delivery of new frames came with the same sense of disappointment. Hundreds of boxes of new shiny frames and no matter the brand they never fitted.
I had finally come to accept that my head is just too big for ladies frames.
I measured my head and put my artistic side to work, designing my own frame and commissioning it from Dave. I was overjoyed with the result; they looked the part and most importantly they fitted.
I’ve never looked back.
In 2016 I met Matthew Lambert. He was a cabinet maker at the time, hand making fine furniture for some of London’s top addresses. Having started as an apprentice in 2004 he had learnt the entire trade; design, making, finishing and fitting. He was amazed when I told him hardly anyone in the UK was making bespoke glasses frames. The more we discussed the optical industry and its manufacturing history in the UK the more interested he became.
The opportunity to reinvigorate a dying industry and the challenge appealed to his nature. He spent the next year teaching himself the trade and setting up a workshop. Worshipful Spectacles is the combination of his manufacturing experience and my fitting and design knowledge.
Now all our frames are made in house and most importantly, I can have any pair I want.
It took half a lifetime for me to make glasses to suit my face. We can do it a lot quicker for you.