“As a child, my sense of style was always a little different,” said Sally Broadway, optician at Sally’s Optical Secrets.
“I didn’t want to look like everyone else and, being the fifth of six children, I had a lot of hand-me-downs. I just wanted my own unique style.”
Her motto was born: “If it’s different, it lasts longer.”
Americans spent $9.3 billion on eyeglass frames from March 2014 to March 2015 (up about 5 percent from the previous year), says the optical industry’s Vision Council. The average spent was about $130, but the biggest growth spurt was in the costliest frames – those more than $150. Sally’s is solidly in that category, with frames running $250 to $1,400.
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Broadway started working in high school for a Union County optometrist – the husband of her ninth-grade English teacher – and “did pretty much everything.” She transitioned from reception to the lab, where she learned to process lenses and cut them to fit the frames.
Later she worked with a Charlotte practice as a licensed optician (someone who designs, fits and dispenses corrective lenses, but doesn’t do eye exams). Then, with 13 years of experience on her résumé, she made the move to her current location in Dilworth.
She aspired to match people with more colorful designer eyewear. “That was my joy,” she said. So is what continues to be her “unique flair” in style: Being different.
She also adored Dilworth. “I just thought it was warm and welcoming,” she said.
Still in the same spot 15 years later, she fits frames to faces while rotating through 15 favorite pairs of glasses herself. One of her looks is a pink shirt paired with black Oliver Peoples frames, studded with silver in the corners. They bring on a bold, intelligent and current look with a vintage twist.
As Broadway put it, “It’s that geeky chic-y.”
That’s right, eyewear is fashion.
“It’s not just a medical device on your face,” Broadway said. “It is an accessory that has a function.”
Besides, eye contact is the way other people connect with you. Treat the eyes like painted masterpieces, Broadway said. “You want to frame them beautifully.”
Sally’s 10 tips
1. Factor in face shape.
“It needs to be in proportion,” Broadway said. Make sure the glasses frame the whole face – the widest portion of the frames should line up with the widest portion of the face.
For the heart-shaped face: Avoid cat-eye style. Complement the pointed chin.
For the round face: Avoid a round style. Try an oval or softer angles. A cat-eye style works great here.
For the narrow face: Aim for a fuller frame.
For the oval face: Consider yourself lucky. Any frame shape looks fabulous.
2. Consider your complexion.
For fair skin: Avoid neutral, clear, see-through styles, which fade into the face. Go for color.
For medium skin: Gear toward neutrals. “Purple is considered a neutral because it can change color with your skin tone,” Broadway said. “It can become more neutral.” So can burgundy.
For dark skin: Lighter colors create a rich look. Try bone, milky tortoise or any contrast to add a pop of color. Don’t shy away from a bright, loud look.
3. Pay attention to your eye color.
“You want to bring attention to the eyes,” Broadway said.
For blue eyes: Don’t pick an identical blue frame. Make your eyes pop by choosing a color such as red, burgundy, lavender or aubergine, with a back side of blue.
For brown eyes: Any color is yours.
For green eyes: Again, any color works. Also consider reaching for jewel tones.
4. Take your body type into account.
For a fuller body frame: Select softer, lighter, thinner eye frames.
For a petite frame: Reverse that approach.
Either way, Broadway said, “There is a frame for every face, somehow, some way.”
5. Forget your hair.
“The hair plays in as a complement,” Broadway said. “It’s probably the last thing that I look at, simply because I tell people you do not match your shoes to your hair.”
Ultimately, she said, “You match it with you. What is your color? It’s kind of like makeup. You match it to your skin, you match it to your skin tone, and everything else just kind of works.”
6. Take two steps when trying on a pair.
Sit down when you first slide them on. Then stand in front of a mirror. “It changes the whole image,” Broadway said. Keep looking for proportion.
7. Bring a critic.
“It’s better if it’s a significant other,” Broadway said. You end up with just one, solid opinion.
8. Age – ignore it.
Look at a pair and think, “You know, why not?” Go cool. Go beautiful.
9. Ponder your professional needs.
Ask yourself: “Will this work in my profession?” and “Who am I making eye contact with during the workday?” For modest workplace frames, try the tortoise line. “It’s always been a classic and a timeless look,” Broadway said.
10. Keep a list of favorites.
This is about building your “eyewear wardrobe.” If you are only ready for one pair, start with more neutral frames that will go with everything. “We can always, down the road, add a pair,” Broadway said. “We just build their wardrobe as it goes.”
Three spectacular designer names you won’t find close by:
Anne et Valentin
Two bargain styles
One last tip
“It’s always good to have a spare pair.”