How To Take Care Of Your Sunglasses

Yesterday afternoon, it seemed like most of the designers in Manhattan had faked food poisoning after lunch so they could leave the office early. 

At the normally-quiet pool on the roof of Soho House, half the fashion world hid behind oversized sunglasses, trying to soak up the afternoon incognito.

I should mention that I grew up very near-sighted.  My equally near-sighted mother made a rule when I got my first pair of glasses.  She perched them on my nose, and I blinked twice and saw the world for the first time.  "On your face or in the case," she ordered. 

For this reason, I cringed yesterday when I saw so many people abusing their designer sunglasses. 

Women fished unprotected Alexander Wang frames out of the bottoms of their purses, and because of the entropy of handbags, these beautiful frames were mixed in with uncapped eyeliner pens and sharp house keys.

I can sympathize with people who don’t want to carry around an extra glasses case, but it’s unavoidable.  Most designer frames also come with a very important cleaning cloth made of soft cotton, so there’s no excuse. 

What was also disturbing was the sight of men eating and manhandling their sunglasses, smearing the lenses as they fished them out of their breast pockets.

Later, I watched in horror as people disrespected certain prominent eyewear designers who were also sunning by the pool, by cleaning their glasses in the following ways:

1. The Breathe-and-Rub

You fog up one lens at a time and wipe away the debris with your shirt.  This is a bad idea for two reasons. First, it’s best not to do any cleaning with any shirt while you’re still wearing it.  Second, unless you have the composition of all your clothing memorized, you might accidentally rub your lenses with a polyester or lycra blend.  Abrasive fabrics can wear away at the anti-glare coating, and even scratch your lenses.

2. "Bartender, you got any Windex?"

Windex is a wonderful helper in the office, but it is principally made of isopropanol, which wears away the finish on your lenses.  You’re wearing these glasses, so don’t spray anything on your lenses that you wouldn’t spray directly on your face.  Windex also contains 2-butoxyethanol, which is a paint solvent. 

I learned this the hard way a number of years ago.  People who stand to my left see the arm of my glasses and think I’m wearing Prada.  People who stand to my right think I’ve discovered some muted new Italian designer known only as "–ada."

3. The MacGyver Compromise 

Yesterday, I watched as a guy dipped a napkin in his date’s Bombay Sapphire martini, and then scrubbed down his aviators.  This was a waste of perfectly good gin, and also meant he was smearing olive juice on his fine eyewear.  To complement his genius, he cleaned it off with a restaurant napkin (which are almost always made of polyester).

The final solution is simple: if you don’t have lens cleaner on you, just excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.  Wet your lenses in the sink with warm water, and pump hand soap on the lenses.  The gentle detergents will lubricate any dirt and debris.  The soap is water soluble, so it leaves no residue.  On your way out of the bathroom, just wipe the water away with any paper hand towel.

This is exactly how you would clean fine glassware, and you should treat any glassware on your face the same way.