Finding the right glasses is always a challenge. However, when looking for speciality glasses such as monocles, that task becomes much harder. As genuine monocles are hard to find and there are many fake options on the market that are for cosplay or costumes, we’ve cut through the noise to find the best monocles for you.
Whether you’re looking for a monocle for prescription or reading use or even one with a magnifying glass or for party wear, there’s something in this guide for you.
We’ve tested out around 5 real monocles as well as a few fake ones just for costumes. Below you will find our recommendations of the best monocles to buy online from only trusted retailers.
Just so you are aware, we usually aim to cater to every budget range and will offer comments on quality and value for money. However, as real monocles are relatively rare, their prices tend to all be fixed around the $50 price point.
Our current top monocles have been divided into the following categories:
Unfortunately, Warby Parker no longer seem to retail their quirky monocles on their website as of August 2019. We are currently looking for an alternative so if you’re aware of any worthwhile prescription monocles in the meantime, feel free to leave a comment!
If you’re looking for a real high-quality monocle fitted with a prescription lens, Warby Parker actually offers an excellent option. In fact, they’re the only current trusted online retailer that we know who’s willing to make this fantasy a reality.
This particular monocle was designed by Australian born artist and illustrator, Craig Redman. Unlike many vintage monocles, the frame is thick and features a grooved rim on the back for a firm grip.
It’s also made from premium acetate with an attractive whiskey tortoiseshell finish. Furthermore, it was remarkably cheap at only $50 on Warby Parker offering outstanding value for money!
Now based in San Francisco, Nearsights started off selling monocles in Philadelphia in 2001. Today, it’s run by James Berry after his father founded and developed the company.
Originally a passion project, James’ father had sourced his own designer, manufacturer and online storefront. However, it soon became a full-time job when he took over.
Nearsights is one of the only retailers that specialises in monocles online or otherwise. They offer a great number of frames and tints, which you can find either on their Amazon page or their website.
Nevertheless, we were particularly fond of their standard silver metal frame, which features a scratch resistant polycarbonate lens. This type is known as a gallery monocle, which features a metal frame that “orbits” the monocle away from the eyelashes for a clearer view.
Additionally, most of their models feature +1, +1.5, +2, +2.5, +3, +3.5 and +4 dioptre correction as options.
If you’re looking for a classic, well-designed monocle that you can actually use for reading, we highly recommend this one. The silver frame reading monocle from Nearsights is available at only $59.99 via their store on Amazon.
Whether you’re a jeweller, watch smith or read a lot of fine print, you’ll likely have a magnifying glass close to hand. However, these clunky and large accessories aren’t always very convenient.
A fashionable and somewhat eccentric trend has been growing as some people have returned to magnifying monocles. Relatively cheap and somewhat elegant, these little accessories are invaluable for those undertaking any sort of precision work.
Although made in China and coming in somewhat cheap-looking package, these are actually the best magnifying monocles available online. They also come with a handy gold-colour chain, but you can always change this for a real one.
This particular monocle is a handy tool for reading the occasional fine print. However, it’s designed to be held between your fingers rather than braced over the cheekbone. So if you’re looking for a costume option or for long reads, this isn’t the best choice.
We tried a lot of costume monocles at the office – there was a lot of evil cackling when we did so – and most of them were cheap bits of plastic that fell apart. However, we felt that the highest quality one that offered the best value for money came from the Colorado Springs company, Elope.
Made from metal with a nylon cord, it features a thin plastic lens with no correction. The rim has also been designed to ensure a comfortable, secure grip between the eyebrow and cheek.
This may not offer any practical purpose but it’s an excellent option for costume parties and period drama! It’s also only $9.95 on Amazon so won’t break the bank either.
What Are Monocles?
Invented as early as 1720, the monocle didn’t become popular until the nineteenth century as a gentleman’s accessory. It was often associated with wealthy, upper-class men who would combine it with a morning coat and top hat.
Additionally, monocles were particularly popular among the aristocratic Prussian military. Many German generals such as Hans Krebs and Walter von Reichenau were famous for theirs.
In the early 20th Century, monocles were popular among stylish lesbian circles such as Una Lady Troubridge. In fact, the association was so strong that the first lesbian discotheque in Paris was Le Monocle, which open in 1930s Montmatre.
We can’t ignore the association with comedy as monocles were often used as a device to convey shock. Who can’t picture an appalled upper-class gentleman exclaiming “gadzooks!” before his monocle pops into his glass of Champagne?
With the advancements in optometry, monocles have become quite rare. However, monocles still have a practical purpose and are sometimes worn by eccentric yet brave individuals.
Will A Monocle Suit Me?
Firstly, monocles are a bold and eccentric statement. If you’re strong-willed and carefree enough to wear a monocle, considerations like face shapes are of little importance.
Nevertheless, you can choose your monocle according to certain factors to make it stand out even more and look fantastic. For instance, if you take a look at our guide to choosing glasses, you can read up on skin tone and contrast. This will help you find the frame that would suit you best.
It’s also important to factor in your own persona. Chances are that if you’re considering a monocle, you’re already a stylish and outgoing person. Needless to say, monocles tend to pair best with formal or vintage attire. However, if you wear jeans and a t-shirt, a monocle might not quite fit.
Finally, because a monocle is a simple, round object, it tends to be relatively universal for face shapes as it breaks up general structure. It will however suit more angular face shapes such as squares and diamonds. However, it should work fine on round and heart face shapes too.