Look, I’m sure it’s something we all do. But even then, I’m still kind of embarrassed to put down in writing what I’m going to tell you. Deep breath, here it goes. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, is read Facebook on my mobile phone. Oh, how I hate myself for my nasty little habit. Last month, I got so fed up that I moved the Facebook icon from my phone’s home screen to the very last page. I read somewhere that it was supposed to help. Well, it didn’t. I even deleted Facebook from my phone altogether for a while, promising myself – and all my friends on Facebook, mind you – that this time things would be different. It took me less than two weeks to re-install Facebook and come crawling back to my daily routine. I wake up, I click on the blue F icon and go straight for my Facebook memories. I just can’t resist seeing what I did on this day four years ago (and in case you’re wondering what it was today, I had dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam – one of the many perks of working for the American Express travel department I miss most). This morning, I got another notification. Apparently, it was ten years ago that I had joined Facebook. Congratulations were in order, I guess…but the first thing that went through my head was what I could have done instead with all the time I frittered away mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed. I could have written a sequel to my book. Gone to the gym more often. Done another class in art school. But I didn’t. The second thing I realized is how much and yet how little I have changed. I watched the video Facebook had made just for me and saw how, through the years, I lost weight, gained it all back and then lost it again. My beard went from a small brownish goatee to the full salt and pepper beard it is now. One thing that stayed, however, was my freakishly round head that I have learned to live with. The biggest change – and this is where I finally come to the subject of my story – is how many different pairs of glasses I’ve had. With the blank canvas that is my bald head, glasses are an important part of my look. And I guess that is exactly why Silhouette Eyewear invited me a while ago to become one of their official Brandlovers.
Silhouette Eyewear – Admissions of a Brand Lover
Now, you may wonder what a Silhouette Brandlover actually does. After all, it sounds terribly exciting. And it is. You see, I get to try out their latest eyewear – and we’re talking both optical and sunglasses here, mind you. It is so much fun. Who wouldn’t love changing glasses faster than you can say ‘Elton John’? Don’t get me wrong, though. I was not won over easily. Up until I became a Brandlover, I had been wearing a pair of glasses that had become part of my signature look. They were horn-rimmed, they were big and they compensated for my enormous head. Switching to something rimless and more nuanced for the first time in my life would make me feel positively naked – something that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. After all, I had been wearing glasses ever since I was eight years old. For some reason, I had started to develop a lazy right eye – which nipped my dream of becoming either an astronaut or a pilot right in the bud. To make up for my loss, I chose a pair of silver aviator glasses the moment I was done wearing the dreaded eyepatch. I looked so cool! As the 80’s rolled around, I convinced my parents that my newly-found bookish look would not be complete without a pair of brown horn-rimmed glasses. And then a few years later, I moved to Bordeaux as an exchange student and celebrated my newfound independence with a pair of gold and horn Italian occhiali – a suave combination that is due for a comeback, if you ask me. Now even I make a fashion faux pas from time to time. I switched to a teeny-tiny pair of gold spectacles that made me look like Gustav Mahler had stepped into a time machine and got off in the mid-90’s. Realizing my mistake, it wasn’t long until I moved on to something radically different. I decided on a black rectangular frame, which my optician strongly warned me against but what did he know? I wanted to make a statement! My black glasses were replaced in the 2000’s by something more subdued and rimless. I don’t remember the brand, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t Silhouette. In retrospect, I looked quite good in them – which is why for the life of me I don’t understand why I switched yet again a few years later to a pair of blue horn glasses that made me look really fat. Or perhaps I just was really fat. Now, I have saved every pair of glasses I have ever owned on the off chance I get my own Patrick Kooiman museum someday, but even I am not sure I’ve kept the deeply uncool blue frame from my fat years. The glasses I got after that, however, were a big improvement. The design was very unusual in that the top did not cover my eyebrows like glasses are supposed to, thereby apparently breaking one of eyewear design’s cardinal rules. Instead, the top actually was a bit higher, providing me with a seemingly constant look of amazement. Encouraged by the man who is now my ex, I finally settled on a pair of thick (and I mean thick) round horn-rimmed glasses. He had bought a very similar pair from the same brand and together, we looked like hipster versions of Bert and Ernie. And I don’t need to tell you that I was the Ernie, right? I’ve always been an Ernie!
Long story short, it is safe to say that glasses have played a big role in my life. Which probably explains why I was asked by an Amsterdam-based PR agency if I would be interested in trying out Silhouette Eyewear. Now, normally men who go through a profound life experience like a divorce tend to grow a beard. But since I already had one, I decided to take them up on their offer and update my look with a pair of new glasses. Silhouette was a brand I was only vaguely aware of, fully convinced that rimless glasses were not for me. The models on the Silhouette website were all impossibly good looking, which made me wonder how rimless glasses would look on an average Joe like me. ‘They will make your face stand out so much more.’ the woman from the PR agency said – which was exactly what I was afraid of. Figuring that I wouldn’t hurt to step outside my comfort zone for a change, I went for the Dynamics Colorwave 5560. It was rimless alright, but its silver top at least suggested a rim and made me feel as if I had at least sort of stood my ground. From a technical perspective, these were without a doubt the best glasses I had ever worn. They were so thin, yet so strong. I have to admit that in the first few months I went back and forth between my old glasses and my Silhouette frame, but the comfort and style of my new glasses won me over in the end. In fact, my 5560’s are now go-to workout glasses. At the gym, I sometimes even forget I’m wearing them – which can be embarrassing whenever I try to wipe the sweat from my face during my weekly spinning class and suddenly realize I still have my glasses on. I admit it, that has happened to me a few times. I only hope that none of my fellow spinners noticed my mistake! The second pair of Silhouette glasses I started wearing, however, provided me with my true epiphany. And if there’s one lesson you should learn from my story, it is this. Invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses. You’ll be glad you did. Because I’m near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other (a leftover from that childhood lazy eye I told you about earlier), I would develop an absolutely splitting headache wearing regular, non-prescription sunglasses. With my new prescription Titan Contour 8689’s, however, I could wear sunglasses all year round. I just whip them out whenever it’s sunny! And with their gradient brown varifocal lenses, they are perfect for a little beach reading. No more audio books for me – bliss!
I went on a two-week roadtrip through Morocco and ended up on the rooftop terrace of the Heure Bleue Palais in Essaouira wearing my Titan Contour 8689 sunglasses.
You can imagine my joy when one year later, I was asked to stay on a bit longer as a Silhouette Brandlover. But this time, not one but two different challenges presented themselves. First, I wanted something more powerful. A statement, that’s what I was aiming for. I had never had tinted lenses before and didn’t really consider them until I saw them at a Silhouette Eyewear event in Antwerp, Belgium last year. To be honest, I used to think tinted lenses were a bit too frivolous. And frankly, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pull them off. How wrong I was. To offset my pale complexion, I decided on the blue lenses. It’s a lesson I learned a long time ago when I did one of those color consultancy sessions. I’m a spring summer type, which means I have to stick to cool colors like blue for everything that I wear – and that now includes my glasses. Fun fact: all Silhouette lenses are manufactured at their in-house Lens Lab in Austria. This makes Silhouette one of the few if not the only eyewear brand to make their own lenses. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the eyewear business, but even I understand that’s a big deal. About a week after I got my new Titan Dynamics Contour glasses complete with blue lenses, the unimaginable happened. I was running to catch the train while simultaneously trying to switch from sunglasses back to my regular glasses and well, I don’t even think I need to tell you what happened next. My brand new Silhouette glasses fell from my hands, not only fell on the pavement but also slid face down across the concrete for well over one meter. I was petrified! I picked them up from the pavement, fully expecting my lenses to be scratched. They were fine. And let’s be honest – my goal is to write a positive article about Silhouette, but even then I was duly impressed. With any other brand, I probably would not have been so lucky.
What better way to celebrate your birthday than going to the beach in Knokke, Belgium with your nephew and your new Sun C-2? 😉
Challenge number two involves something that I hated to admit, but still had to face up to – and I mean that both figuratively and literally. You see, when I switched to varifocal lenses a few years ago, I didn’t keep in mind that I do most of my reading on a computer screen in front of me and not from – say – a book on my lap. In other words, the reading part of my lenses – which were in the lower part – weren’t necessarily of much use. In fact, I even had to raise my head so that I could read everything on my computer screen. The solution? Proper computer glasses! My optician measured the perfect distance between my screen and my face, which in my case is 60 centimeters. And now here I am, writing this story on my computer without having to squint or raise my head all the time. Mind. Blown. The frame I chose is an all-black Dynamics Colorwave. The look is a bit more business-like than I’d normally choose, but I have to say I am really pleased with the way they turned out. And if I understood things correctly, I can even change the Accent Rings to update the color of the frame. My life, in other words, is complete.
This pair of Dynamics Colorwave BG556 is so light, you won’t even notice you’re wearing them. A big plus when you go on a fast-paced two-day press tour during Dutch Design Week.
Now, I told you I was already a big fan of prescription sunglasses. And because I was wearing them all the time, I figured I’d get not one, but two more pairs. I know, I got a bit carried away. But contrary to what you might think, I actually don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I buy some good, affordable basics once a year and then complete my look with more high-end accessories. A good pair of sneakers, a luxury silk scarf and, of course, a pair of sunglasses can work wonders without breaking the bank! The Silhouette Sun C-2 is perfect if you’re aiming for that 80’s Milanese dad style (I know I am). On the other end of the style spectrum, you could do worse than picking up the Infinity. It’s a bit more hipster than most other Silhouette models but still has that instantly recognizable Silhouette nose bridge.
Oh, the luxury of wearing prescription sunglasses in winter! Here I am walking down my street wearing the Infinity.
Which brings me to the final part of my story. The bridge. And glad you’re still with me, by the way! If you pay careful attention, you can see exactly which celebrities wear Silhouette. All you have to do is look out for a subtle, wave-shaped bridge. Almost all models have them. I’ve turned ‘Spot the Silhouettes’ into a little game I play whenever I’m watching TV. So many different people wear them. There are politicians such as Elizabeth Warren, movie stars like Patrick Dempsey and Brad Pitt and yes, I even saw Queen Elizabeth wearing a pair of rimless Silhouette glasses. And if I can add one upcoming celebrity to this impressive list, it would have to be…me! You see, I’ve been trying to get a foothold in the exciting world of television and I have to say I’ve not been doing too badly, thank you very much. My latest conquest is an appearance on the Dutch version of the hit TV show Who Lives Here? It was a ton of fun to do, I can tell you free of charge. There is even a special reveal at the end of the episode that involves Silhouette glasses. Dying to find out what it is? Watch the full episode below and you’ll get your answer. For now, I’m going outside after a long day of writing at my local library. I have the rest of the afternoon to myself, I happen to have a great pair of sunglasses with me – what more could this brand lover possibly need?
During the taping of the Dutch TV show ‘Wie Woont Waar?’, I wore my Dynamics Colorwave computer glasses for a more business-like style.
Disclaimer: Silhouette Eyewear offered me to wear their glasses.