Buying vintage bins in the time of Coronavirus

I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars. 

I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.

For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.

In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.

Brass framed shop display cabinet c1970 from Art Furniture
Gilded Domed Display Cabinet from Edward Haes 

There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.  

Picture of my mum wearing ’80s glasses, in the ’80s
My ’80s Dior frames from Retro Spectacle

Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now. 

I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses. 

My Christian Lacroix frames from Retro Spectacle
Mid-Century Industrial Steel Vitrine Glass Display Cabinet from The Architectural Forum 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Retro Spectacle and Salvo

Reclaimed Woman