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The Best Eyeglasses Shops in New York

Photo-Illustration: Curbed; Photos: Getty

For Limited Editions

See Eyewear, multiple locations;

When Jenna Johnson, the editor-in-chief of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, followed her favorite salesperson from Moscot to See Eyewear in Cobble Hill, she was surprised to find that she was unfamiliar with many of the shop’s styles. The publishing world is filled with Warby Parkers and circular black Izipizis, Johnson says, but See Eyewear “doesn’t make a lot of each frame” — they’re designed in-house — “so if you buy there, you’re probably safe from running into yourself all over the city.” See has six locations in New York and releases unusually small runs of 18-to-25 styles a month. Each store usually gets one pair of a new design, which range from standard Pantos and square styles to the 8634 Suns ($149), a Max Headroom–esque pair in Dalmatian print, and the 6630s, a tortoiseshell cat’s-eye ($419). Johnson’s favorite pair so far — she’s on her sixth — is a rhombus silhouette in a red-gray ombré that she says she saves for special occasions. “I broke them once, and See tracked down the very last pair in existence to replace them.”

For Concierge-like Service

Moscot, multiple locations;

Stylist Jessica Cadmus likes to bring her C-suite clients shopping with her — especially for eyewear — and Moscot’s flagship on the Lower East Side is her optical shop of choice. The frames sold at the glasses classic, which has been open since 1915, are “somewhere between conventional and downtown, but not boring,” says Cadmus, which works well for finance types who wear suits all day; frames like the translucent-green square Yontifs ($300) or the Telenas ($300), an extra-plump Wayfarer type inspired by a mid-century Little Italy zeppole baker, feel discerning but not flashy. But Cadmus says the real reason she takes clients to Moscot is the store’s concierge-like setting: “They sort of read you when you come in,” she says, “and they’re eternally ready to step in at any moment and talk about the product — how it holds up over time, all its specifications — without ever being overbearing.” Chris Black, co-host of the podcast How Long Gone (and a contributor to The Strategist), agrees: “The real appeal of Moscot is absolutely the service,” he says, noting that actual members of the Moscot family will often help you. “And the frames themselves are classic,” adds Black, who, before getting Lasik last year, had four Moscots in rotation. “They’re like the Kleenex of glasses.”

For Something Zany

Studio Optix, 63 W. 49th St.;

WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields first found Studio Optix in the 1990s, when he was a political researcher working in Rockefeller Center. The shop was on the way to his office, and it’s hard to miss: Studio Optix is known for out-there styles like periwinkle Sabine frames with blocky brows ($425); ice-blue Voltas with a jagged, crystalline shape, by Oscar Mamooi ($750); and Lucas de Stäel frames made from leather, stone, and animal skins (from $900). After a few months of window-shopping, Fields decided to trade in his lower-profile look for some rectangular frames by Bevel from Optix, which came in a curious colorway: “I would have gotten them in black, but they handed me a pair that was striped like bacon,” he says. “I just decided, I’m going to go out on this limb.” He’s been going back since and is currently on his sixth “out of my comfort zone” pair, he says. “The Optix stylists usually show me something I think I want, maybe in a more conventional shade, and then they’ll show me something I didn’t know I wanted, like the thin, round, inky-blue-striped pair I’m wearing these days.”

For Vintage Persols

Silver Lining Opticians, 92 Thompson St.;

NBC journalist (and former New York columnist) John Heilemann has bought “dozens and dozens” of glasses, he says, from Silver Lining Opticians in Soho, starting with a pair of ’70s golden-orange Persols that he purchased around 2014 after reading that Jay-Z shopped there. Jordan Silver, who co-owns Silver Lining, is something of an eyewear historian: He began collecting glasses in 2000 while studying architecture in France, eventually selling selections from his deadstock vintage collection through stores like Barneys, Bergdorf, and Opening Ceremony. Today, he stocks Silver Lining with plenty of new models made the old way (no decorative rivets or spring hinges), but his specialty is the shop’s “vintage vault,” which includes Persols, Diors, and Ray-Bans from the 1960s through 1990s (ranging from $300 to $10,000), plus the occasional rarely seen, collectible-caliber styles. “In June, Jordan texted me pictures of some Persol Rattis,” Heilemann says. “He was like, ‘I’ve literally never seen this shape before in all the collecting I’ve done.’ It seems like they were sent to Middle Eastern distributors, because the cases have Arabic on them.” Silver held them for a month for Heilemann, who eventually caved and bought the frames for about $2,000.

For John Turturro’s Go-To Spot

Selima Optique, multiple locations;

John Turturro wasn’t necessarily looking to buy new glasses when he met Selima Salaun, owner of Selima Optique, through a friend in the late ’90s. “I was eating lunch near her shop on Wooster,” he says, “and she didn’t like the glasses I had on. She said, ‘Come over to my shop.’ ” The first pair he bought was bright red: “I kept thinking I wasn’t going to wear them, but I ended up wearing them all the time.” Salaun, who designs most of the pieces sold at her four shops, began her career as an optician in Paris, opened her first Selima Optique here in 1993, and has since amassed a following among not only celebrities but also designers and stylists: Mickey Drexler has worn the square-shaped Mike frames ($385) for 20 years now, Carolyn Kennedy long sported the low-set, round Aldos ($385), and Marni creative director Francesco Risso wore a pair of clear Sarahs (the shop has only a few “vintage” pairs left, for $650) to the Met Gala. Selima eyewear is “quirky but fashionable,” says book publicist Sheila O’Shea, who adds that the New Wave–inspired profiles and color choices make them feel distinct from the more bookish styles seen at other shops. Stylist Michelle Li compares shopping at Selima to “walking into the wand shop from Harry Potter,” where the shopkeeper has a preternatural sense for matching the merchandise to the customer; in Li’s case, the Selima staff sold her on a thick-rimmed tortoiseshell pair that she never would have expected to fit her small face, but it did, perfectly.

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