Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Silhouettes Eyeglasses Frames Review

  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • No hinges to break or bend
  • Freedom to customize lens shapes
  • Unquestionably stylish
  • Fairly durable, stand up to knocks and bumps

  • Take some getting used to (for you and your brain)
  • Fit can be a problem until they're adjusted properly
  • Pricey
  • Only fit in the manufacturer's case
  • Don't lie flat in a pocket or on a table
  • Require two hands to put on and take off

silhouettes glasses frames
It's been over a year since I got my Silhouettes eyeglasses frames and I thought it was a good time to give them a review. If you haven't heard of them, Silhouettes are rimless titanium memory wire frames that are mounted to the lens via holes - some people call them "drill mount" frames. Their main attractions are that they are lightweight and most people consider them to be modern and stylish. You can also have pretty much any shape lens you choose, since there is no frame to constrain your choices. The same frame works equally well with rounded or squarish lenses.

Most of the other online reviews for Silhouettes glasses are from people who have had theirs break (usually at the temple arm) or were not satisfied with them because the lens cracked. I am going to guess that those experiences may have been with earlier generations of these frames, because mine seem to be holding up just fine to everyday wear. Then again, I don't really wear them in situations where they could get hit or bent, like playing sports or around small kids. I also store them on the counter as shown above instead of bent into their weird little plastic case. It seems like the case design keeps the temples bent under stress and it wouldn't be good for them.

silhouettes glasses
 If you haven't tried Silhouettes glasses before, the rimless design takes some serious getting used to. And I'm talking about more than the gaping hole in your wallet. As the above photo shows, the frames are mounted to the front of the lens by plastic grommets that fit into holes drilled into the lens. There aren't any hinges, and the part that goes over your ear is mostly a thin little rubber piece a little bigger than the wire frame with a polished metal tip.

As a result, Silhouettes frames are very lightweight and comfortable to wear. But since they don't have an actual hinge, the lenses are essentially free to move about your nose and face as they please. They can easily shift side to side, depending on how well the earpieces grip your head. They can also get cockeyed quite easily, where one of the lenses is higher than the other one. This can be quite annoying and also looks funny, plus they are comfortable so you probably won't notice the misalignment. Basically getting them to stay put, especially when you have oily skin like mine, can be a problem.

silhouettes glasses front
Here's a look at them from the front. Obviously you can get any lens shape with these, mine just happen to be a modified rectangle to match my face shape. You can see that the frames actually obscure a part of the lens where the hardware is mounted. This did take some getting used to on my part - eventually your brain learns to stop looking in the area where the frames are in the way.

Another weird thing about them is that the lenses are beveled (or chamfered) along the edge on both sides. I was expecting a flat, 90 degree corner where the edge of the lens meets the face, but instead it's more like the edge is rounded over at a 45 degree angle. While I recognize that this is probably standard practice to avoid a sharp edge that could chip easily, in the case of my lenses it also created a "micro-lens" at the top and bottom of my field of view. I was literally seeing triple for the first week wearing these, since the chamfered edge on the lens refracts the image you're looking at right into your vision. It was especially frustrating when driving at night - I could easily see the reflective road paint above and below my field of view and the result was incredibly distracting. If you're experiencing this same problem, don't give up yet - my eyes/brain got used to this strange issue and it seems like the brain simply learns to tune it out eventually. Now I have no problem driving at night, etc, and I don't even notice the triple images anymore. Wonder what else I might be missing...?

silhouettes glasses side
Another look at the temple. You can see each part of the frame is attached with studs through two holes in the lens. This is nice because there's no hinge to break or wear out, and it doesn't really get dirty since it's wire-thin.

My pair of Silhouettes actually creaks a little bit when I open them up to put them on. The sound is very slight, not loud enough to be disturbing, it's just the noise of the frames shifting inside the holes in the lenses.

silhouettes glasses
Since there are no hinges, you need two hands to put Silhouettes on. You also pretty much need two hands to take them off without putting a lot of stress on them. If putting glasses on and taking them off repeatedly is an important part of your day... you may want to skip Silhouettes.

Also, they do not fold flat to fit into a pocket. They come with a hard case, but it's still fairly bulky. Because they don't fold up, they only fit into their original case. You're probably not going to find a case that they'll fit in besides the one they came in, so don't lose it!

I spend a lot of time adjusting them on my face. Maybe my Silhouettes aren't perfectly adjusted, but if I worked anywhere where I had less than perfectly clean hands, I would have to get new glasses because you almost always have to handle the edge of the lenses to adjust them.

The nose pieces that came with these were a hard plastic that slipped down my nose no problem. The eye clinic was able to replace them with another set that had a soft, grippy finish that helped with that issue. The nose pieces just pop on and off the wire frame, anyone can change them out, so I'd recommend asking your glasses guy or girl for the grippy nose pads to take with you in case you don't like the not-so-grippy ones.

wearing silhouettes glasses
Here's an example of me wearing this pair of Silhouettes. They are seriously minimalist - no hinge, no frame, actually not a whole lot of anything.

Above is a better look at the ear pieces on my Silhouettes. There isn't much to them, and they really don't grip the sides of my head that well. Also the numbers showing the frame size are printed right where the earpieces wear, so you can forget about reading them after wearing them a while, they rub right off. (Of course, there is nowhere else to put these numbers anyway.)

A look at half a pair. You can see what I explain above - the bevel around the edge of the lens reflects my eye a second time. It also delivers a matching image of what you're looking at above and below your field of view on the other side of the lens. That is what took the most adjustment - waiting for my brain to stop seeing the images coming from the beveled edges.

The bottom line is: I have a love/hate relationship with my Silhouettes glasses. I like the style and comfort, I dislike the finicky fit, particularly as my face gets more oily in the afternoons and they slip around more. I will probably switch them out for a more conventional hinged pair next time I get the chance. Have you had a similar experience with your Silhouettes glasses? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!