It’s a mad mad mad mad world

I’m laid up in bed today with a bum shoulder that refuses to let me position myself comfortably. I figured I would take this opportunity to catch up on my writing a bit while watching Mad Men Netflix. I have to confess, since I started watching episodes the day they started streaming this week, I’ve become addicted.

I had meant to get into the show when it first started, but just didn’t, and by the time I thought about it, I was too far behind. I was pretty thrilled when I found out they were going to be streamed and since Wednesday, I’ve had episodes going whenever I’ve had a spare moment. I know I’m so behind on the praise for the show, but it really is brilliant. It’s easy for those of us who weren’t around then to neglect to realize just how different things were back then, and not necessarily in a good way at all. I think we young women today really take for granted how broadened our horizons have become. I wouldn’t trade places with my grandmothers, who were both around Betty Draper’s age at that time and also had young, growing families. I realize it’s a television show, but I can’t help but wonder how accurately it portrays life in that era. Was it really a time so strictly bound by social decorum which seemed to almost be a reimagining of Victorian ideals that all people could do to cope with the lies they were telling everyone around them and themselves was to live in a swirl of gallons of scotch, handfuls of Miltowns, and miles-long chains of cigarettes. One shudders to think.

I love watching it for the impeccable costuming just as much as the storyline. I’m a huge fan of vintage fashion, and I’ve always especially love the looks of the early 60s for men and women. It was entirely appropriate then that the same day I started watching Mad Men, my new pair of Shuron browlines came in the mail. I have to wear glasses as I am fairly nearsighted. It never bothered me at all as I rather enjoy wearing glasses. I was actually very excited when I had to get my first pair at seven, and when I have to wear some sort of vision aid I am far more likely to reach for my frames over my contacts. I upgraded to new frames this past winter when my favorite red Burberry’s bit the dust. Being the retro lover with a penchant for menswear details that I am, I fell deeply in love with a pair of faux tortoise shell horn rims. They’ve served me quite well thus far, but I got it in my head this summer that I wanted to have another pair since I have a tendency to break things accidentally, and I wanted a little variety since I use them as an accessory just as much as a necessity. I very specifically wanted a pair of browlines, though, and so the great search began.

Many people confuse browlines for horn rimmed. However, there is quite a difference.

These are horn rims.

And these are browlines.

For a frame style that was so popular back in the day and that’s making a resurgence among the fashion forward, pairs available for prescription lenses are surprisingly hard to find. Yes, yes, yes, I know Ray-Ban makes the Clubmaster, but what grad student can afford Ray-Bans? Although, I did find some darling tortoise browline sunglasses from Urban that are dead ringers for a pair of Clubmasters. So, like any good student I began my research, and actually learned a decent amount of the history of eyewear. As it turns out, the horn rimmed style I so closely associate with Buddy Holly and therefore the 1950s, actually had its beginning in the 1910s. They really became a mainstay over here when popular European styles, made of expensive materials like actual horn, were made into plastic frames in America. They still had the same aesthetic appeal but were much more affordable. In 1947, though, Jack Rohrbach, then vice president of the Shuron company introduced the world to browline frames in the form of Ronsir, and they became a runaway best seller and an instant classic. If you type in browlines in a google image search, you’ll come up with dozens of pictures of famous people from then and now wearing browlines ranging the gamut from Malcolm X to Noel Gallagher.It’s no surprise then that Shuron Ltd. is still in business. In fact, the browlines pictured above are my pair of Shuron Ronsirs. You can find vintage pairs still floating around, but why not support an American company (in opporation since 1865) that will give you a brand new pair, prescription lenses and all? All of their glasses are still made over here, which is pretty cool. They also make a great number of other styles apart from their three versions of the Ronsir.

I’ve loved seeing the eyewear on Mad Men, well the men’s eyewear anyway. Women’s glasses in the 50s and 60s weren’t so great. The whole cat eye look wasn’t such an attractive one. It is still cool seeing the Mad Men creators’ eye for detail.

One of my favorite characters, Harry Crane, in his browlines.

So now you probably know way too much about eye glasses, and my affinity for obscure fashion history. Oh, and I almost forgot. This is my 100th post! Yay! I think, in perfect Mad Men fashion, I might go have a martini to celebrate!

Enjoy your Sunday evenings, everyone.

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Filed under Just Me, Miscellany

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