Wednesday, April 22, 2015

shopping for glasses with warby parker

This is one of those posts that's a departure from the norm, as I don't usually write too much about fashion (or whatever you call the stuff I wear). However, I've had it in the hopper for almost a year now and I kinda feel like it's a public service announcement that needs to be, um, announced. 

I had a friend ask me about glasses shopping last week, and after watching me and everyone I know get ripped off by the glasses industry, I felt like shouting at him to listen to me and just go to Warby Parker. Right after that, Warby Parker emailed me to introduce their upcoming Spring Collection. I decided it was a sign I needed to finally finish this post.

The short (ok not short) version of the story is this. I needed new glasses and sunglasses. I went to a Big Store (which shall remain nameless) and got my eye exam and then started to peruse their selection of frames. I was all set to purchase one pair of eye glasses and one pair of sunglasses when I was presented with the total: $203.99 and $159.99, respectively. That was after the costs my insurance covered. 

I was a little taken aback because I was supposedly eligible for two new pairs under my insurance plan. But then I figured, I was probably choosing the most expensive frames in the store (since it's me we're talking about here) and after all, that's what glasses cost right? I called my husband to run it by him before I handed over my card, and he had a mini panic attack at the total. We decided to think it over for 24 hours before pulling the trigger.

Interestingly, at that point I asked the person helping me if she could just print out the specs we had decided upon so that I could bring it back and order another day. She said, "Oh, it'll just be all here in the computer when you're ready. I don't have a way to give it to you. But if you're worried about price there are some ways we can bring it down." 

Wait, wha? She then proceeded to tell me she had put special coating, anti-reflective stuff, and some sort of magic bean spread on the lenses, which we could take off to bring the cost down. Turns out, she had added on over $100 in upgrades to my lenses without even telling me. The basic version of the glasses I wanted was only $91.99. (Again, that's out of pocket after the portion my insurance would cover).

At this point I was definitely not going to make any decisions, so I asked her again for all the different price options to be printed out for the lenses I wanted, so I could show them to my husband. She said all she could do was write them on a sticky note. Here is what I took home:

Yeah, I have no idea what it says either. (On the plus side, I did have fun taking duck-face selfies in giant sunglasses with my daughter while we were there).

At some point in the process, I posted a photo of Big Store's glasses to Instagram, and said something about how I was getting new glasses, woohoo, and all that. Almost immediately, my friend Linda commented that I should check out Warby Parker. Then another friend said the same, and another.

Normally I ignore good counsel, but that was some pretty incessant hounding, so I checked out WP's Instagram and then website. I decided to spend some time and look around.

The Virtual Try-On

Naturally if I'd had any sense that I'd be blogging about this later, I would have worn make up. Their website is pretty fun. You can take a picture of yourself with your webcam and see how the glasses look on you. It's surprisingly accurate. If only my daughter would have been awake at the time, the duck faces would have been off the charts.

The Home Try-On:

I pretty quickly decided to take them up on their "Home Try-On" offer. They let you choose 5 pairs of glasses, for free, to try on at home. I picked my five and ordered them, piece of cake. I must admit, getting that box was a lot of fun.

I will definitely spare you the overabundance of mirror selfies I sent to my friend Laura during this decision making process. Suffice it to say, it was not easy to choose! One fun thing is you can post photos to Twitter or Instagram (if you are so brave, which I am not) and tag #WarbyHomeTryOn - you might get a few strangers' opinions. Which could be helpful! Or horrible, depending on how it goes.

When you're done, you just send them back- free shipping both ways.


I settled on the Haskell in Burnt Lemon Tortoise and I do love them so. They were $95 total for the lenses and frames. (And now they come in clear! I want them so bad...I could finally fulfill my lifelong dream of being Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. Not a joke).

I also got the Cliff sunglasses in Striped Olive. They too were $95 total for the lenses and frames.

It's very easy to order. You have a few ways you can upload your prescription information. They have free shipping and free returns.

There were no add-ons offered, because they already come standard with all that stuff that's normally an upcharge: Impact resistance, UV coating, scratch-resistance, and anti-reflective coating. There was also no talk of face measurements. (I swear when my husband ordered from Zenni Optical he had to measure his ears or something, which was super comical to watch). Ordering was basic, easy, and totally uncomplicated.


My glasses came quickly and without noteworthy incident. The quality seems excellent. Like I said, this review is coming a year later and they still look great. They proved perfect for when I was dressing up as a serious professional (aka fraudulent adult)...

Or when I was dressing up as a not-so-serious professional...

Or when I was posing for photo-ops during party styling, looking perfectly calm and collected when internally I was freaking out that my branch backdrop was going to crash down on our heads any second.

Key takeaway: Really good glasses distract people from stress-induced crazy eyes. (Thanks, Ellen Swalley, for that photo).

Insurance Reimbursement

Our only glitch came when it was time to be reimbursed for the glasses by our insurance company. Warby Parker sells the glasses (frames and lenses) as a single unit for a single price. But the insurance company wanted an itemized receipt showing lenses and frames separately. We called WP and asked if they could provide that, but they could not. (Definitely the nicest "no" we've ever received, but a "no" nonetheless).

My husband went around and around with insurance and argued his way to getting reimbursed for one pair, but not both. So, be prepared up front that could be an issue for you as well.

We were able to pay for the glasses with our HSA card, so that was good. And even with the insurance fail, we still paid less out of pocket than we would have if we'd bought from the Big Store, even with insurance covering their full portion of the Big Store glasses.

Now the only thing left to do was take pictures of my glasses on various desks and counters! I couldn't resist having a little photo fun, inspired by the cutest little glasses jotter my friend Traci made. Now the real question is, how many apps does it take to make a picture like this? Hmmm...let's see. First I used vsco, then Brush Stroke, then pic Collage, then vsco again. Only 3- not bad. I'm definitely thinking it needs to be wrapping paper or wall paper or something, right?! Seriously I'd buy these glasses again just for the styling I can do with them. (Is it wrong that I buy a lot of stuff for that reason?)

I hope this was helpful information for any of you looking around at glasses! If you do check out Warby Parker, I'd love to hear what you think. And definitely let me know if you have other companies that are also trying to change the tide of the industry.

This post is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, Warby Parker. All opinions I share on this blog are 100% my own, and are what I would tell my best friends at our weekly playdate. 


  1. Thank you for posting this! I've been on their website for quiet some time. Sadly, I discovered they don't do transitions. You mentioned and I read they do allow transitions... so I'm going to check them out I think. Thanks for the tip on the insurance!

    1. Yes! I haven't tried the Cynthia Rowley glasses myself, but they look very cool. And be sure to check out their Rowley Care program - it might not be for everyone but for people who want multiple styles of glasses in their wardrobe or, like me, who routinely lose their glasses, it would be beneficial. You pay $50 for the year to be enrolled but then you can buy as many pairs as you want at 50% off. Curious to see what you decide!

    2. Oops- forgot to include the link:


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