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!


  1. I have owned a pair for 5 years. They are fine except that the temple pieces fail regularly (third time). I am gentle on them and never fold them into a case. The only stress on the parts is when taking them on or off. It costs almost $100 to replace the temple after warranty. The fact that they fail regularly makes it clear that the manufacturer benefits financially from the poor durability.

  2. You forgot one other con. Despite over a 1000% markup, Silhouette has NO manufacturer warranty. That's right. Nothing. Check their website. The warranty responsibility is deferred to the retailer. So even though the manufacturer is making insane profits off a couple of $3 titanium wires, they don't back it up AT ALL. So if you get a breakage, you pay to fix it. Nice, huh? Summary of review: Don't buy 'em. Go to Zenni.

  3. Well, convenience and style don’t always go together, and it’s annoying when you have to pick between the two. No wonder you have this love-hate relationship with Silhouettes glasses, but they do look nice. Too bad they’re expensive and have no hinge.

    Doris Gibbs @ Moody Eyes

  4. Not true Pain Dudester...they provide a 2 year warranty....as provided by their site........Different warranty rules apply in every country...... Please contact the subsidiary in the country where you purchased your eyewear directly. If you are located in the USA, please contact your eye care professional.

    1. I am in the USA. I did contact my eyewear professional. He clearly said there's no manufacturer warranty, as the Silhouette site confirms. Unless you have a link that shows otherwise...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi, it's a great review. You have summed up Pros and Cons of Silhouettes Eyeglasses Frames. These frames are made up of durable material and are perfect for daily use with stylish look, but it is very expensive.


    1. Durable? I think not. Read the first comment, then go to Amazon and read the flaming negative reviews about the snapped breakage that regularly occurs with these, with no warranty (or a warranty that covers everything except the $100 bucks for parts, which is a joke)

  7. After paying 3 x $100 each time for replacement temple arms which broke at the acute angle shown above, I bought a pair from Zennioptical for $129. I still miss my Silhouettes and might get them repaired again but can't rationalize using an incompletely engineered product with such a high failure rate and expense.

  8. This eyeglasses frame looks nice! Thanks for sharing its pros and cons, at least we have ideas about eyeglass.

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  10. I have had a pair of Silhouette glasses for 18 months. The glass where the holes were drilled has slowly developed an interior crack where the hole was drilled on one lense. Getting ready to find out tomorrow if this is a repair I have to pay for. If so, they are certainly too pricey for the quality. I had a pair of Rodenstock that I loved but can't find anyone who carries those frames anymore. They lasted much longer than my prescription did.

  11. My Silhouette frames finally broke at the temple for the first time last year. I bought them around 1999 and wore them every day. I never stored them in the case. I inadvertently sat on them numerous times, but just gently bent them back into shape and went on about my business. Every two or three years I would have new lenses installed. My only complaint is that they are very hard to find once you take them off, which is why I sat on them occasionally. When they broke, I did not repair them because the finish was worn. I tried two sets of expensive frames and am not happy with them. They feel clunky after the Silhouettes. And the frames interfere with my field of vision and are distracting when I read. I made my appointment today to get a new pair.

  12. Hello, i own a pair of Silhouettees Rimless Eyeglass and its the 3rd time i need to replace the earsocks. I cant find them on the store i used to go to so now im looking for alternatives to make the order, any ideas?

  13. This is a great review, and I see that the author is a photographer. What I don't see answered here is my burning question... does having the frame parts actually drilled into front of the lens, affect photography? For example when using a viewfinder, which is my preference on my DSLR cameras. I am an avid photographer, serious hobbyist, and this issue is very important to me. James or others, any thoughts on that?

    1. Hey Ann, great question! The frame-to-lens mounting hardware didn't cause any issues with the viewfinder on my Canon 60d dslr. It may depend on your lens shape though.

      I also remember that because the silhouettes frame is so flexible, the viewfinder rubber cup pressing on it can kind of knock them out of alignment on your face. You just learn to hold it up gently rather than press so hard.

  14. My very first pair, taken care of very well, got cracks at the screw places near the nose piece on both sides!! Replacement is free ONCE during lifetime of frames.
    Doc's staff said " must have been a bad batch". We will see.
    Can not afford to replace lens every six months though.

    1. Not a manufacturer issue, that's a result of the optician work.

  15. I bought a pair of Silhoutte frame at approx 475 dollars (just the frame) and then bought another for my son due to light weight. Due tompoor design of fake product, one arm broke which was replaced under warranty for 25 dollars. Shortly after my sons frame broke from the same place (poor plastic part at the hinge of the arm). While his was being relaced for another 25 dollars, mine broke again. In short, four arms broke. After the first seller refused to replace under warranty. I wrote to the company with serial number asking them if it is their genuine product. They never responded to the question rather insisted that their frames are sturdy. I am sitting with two 1200 dollar each pair of glasses. It is very open and shut case if i take them to court but my job hours are not permitting me time to do so. watch when you buy one.... A frustrated end user.

  16. I bought a pair of Silhoutte frame at approx 475 dollars (just the frame) and then bought another for my son due to light weight. Due tompoor design of fake product, one arm broke which was replaced under warranty for 25 dollars. Shortly after my sons frame broke from the same place (poor plastic part at the hinge of the arm). While his was being relaced for another 25 dollars, mine broke again. In short, four arms broke. After the first seller refused to replace under warranty. I wrote to the company with serial number asking them if it is their genuine product. They never responded to the question rather insisted that their frames are sturdy. I am sitting with two 1200 dollar each pair of glasses. It is very open and shut case if i take them to court but my job hours are not permitting me time to do so. watch when you buy one.... A frustrated end user.

  17. For the most part, your review mirrors my own experiences over the years. As I type this, I'm in my SPX rimless & hingeless frames. They're just over 3 1/2 years old now. Still doing fine. This is my third pair over the span of perhaps 7 years now. It did take some delicate adjustments, but once they were dialed in, they were great. They stay put quite nicely for what they are.

    Fate being what it is, though, I decided not to push things and went for a new pair. I gotta say, I'm glad I still have the 'old' pair! The new ones came in about 3 weeks ago and they're so maladjusted I've got all I can do just to keep them on my face. The newer frames are much thinner than they were 3 1/2 years ago. As such, they're far more difficult to manipulate into a correct fit. Straight out of the case, they were cockeyed (still are); they were at horrendous angles in both planes (still are, but to a lesser extent after second round of adjustments). The list goes one. When you add in the fact that I've got progressives, the effect on the vision can be quite dramatic.

    Heading in again on Saturday for another adjustment session. Hopefully, this will be the last time. Like you, I love these things for the most part, but for whatever reason, this experience is causing me to give serious thought to going back to hinges.

  18. Just picked up my new pair today, and while they fit well and the vision is good, I noticed minute cracks around three of the four mounting areas. I'm wondering if this is normal or not. I had to have them redone once already; the progressive lenses were impossible to use. I need the lined lenses. I've taken macro photos of the damage, in case they break. These are expensive glasses, and I can't replace them every few months!

  19. Do you have any other review other than this eyeglass frames?

  20. As a pilot, woodworker and mountain biker I could not wish for a pair of glasses that fit my lifestyle better.
    If they move about your face they are either to big or haven't been adjusted properly. You should be able to shake your head without them moving.
    The progressive lenses are fantastic but take about one to two weeks to get used to. Once you're used to them you'll never go back to bifocals etc..
    They're so light that one eventually forgets that they are on.
    If there are cracks after you got them that means that the person that fitted the lense pressed too hard get the lenses replaced as the cracks will spread.
    If the lenses and the frames are loose in anyway take them back to get refitted as this will end up in a damaged lense or frame.
    I put mine on in the morning and take them off in the evening unless I'm in my workshop when they're on and off when my mask goes on.
    I had my last pair for 8 years one broken lense from sitting on them and two broken temples.
    As a pilot I need to have a spare pair with me while flying. I broke the temple last month and needed to go to the optician for a check anyway. I bought a new pair and he replaced the temple on the old pair free of charge and fitted new lenses.

  21. Hello when im wearing my silhouettes brand new i feel that the left lense is a bit closer to the side of my nose and eyebrow and the right a but further away. Can i adjust this by pulling the left nose pad a litle ahead from the right nose pad ???

  22. I have only had my Silhouettes for a week. I have worn contact lenses a lot over the years because I have never found glasses that I like, until these. They are so light weight and unobtrusive that I hardly notice them. They fit perfectly, do not shift around as some have mentioned. I have progressive lenses, the thinnest lightweight lenses and non-glare coating. I have had no problem at all with reflections at the edges, in fact, no problem at all with any aspect of these glasses. I wear them all day and keep them on a shelf at night. They are so light that the nose pads don't even leave indentions when they're removed. I haven't owned them long enough to attest to their long term durability, but right now I can say that they are the only frames I ever want to wear. And you hardly notice you're wearing glasses at all. All pros, no cons so far.

  23. This Rectangle eyeglasses frames looks pleasant! A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing its advantages and disadvantages, at any rate we have thoughts regarding eyeglass.

  24. My over 300 Silhouette frame broke after wearing for 3 months. I had not done my research and was shocked to learn no screw. Had to leave for repair and replace of plastic thingy that holds on the ear piece. Now, looking them over, it looks like to repair they replaced and reglued lense. They are a mess so back to provider I go. This is a new brand for them, I did buy Chamant. I was told the Silouette is "the same". Not in a million years. Never again.