My Second Stab at Promoting a Classic and Practical Accessory: The Glasses Chain

I adored my third-grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Wilson. She had enviable penmanship, a tank full of goldfish, and a terrific sense of style. Her blonde hair was all about volume and side-parts, and her collection of sweater vests contained pieces that bore large-scale motifs like teddy bears, buttons, and musical notes. But the best thing about Mrs. Wilson was her glasses chain.

It was a simple gold chain with two ends that attached to each ear hook and draped around the back of her head. When she had her glasses on, it hung elegantly from the rims, and it dangled from her neck like jewelry when she took them off. If I hadn’t needed to start wearing glasses that year, I would have bought a fake pair anyway so I could wear them with my own chain, which was pink and beaded.

I was shocked when the trend didn’t catch on among my peers. By the end of middle school, I had ditched the chain and begun lobbying my parents for contacts. By college, I had forgotten that glasses chains even existed.

So for the past several years since I started to run, I’ve suffered through the problem of having thick-rimmed glasses that slide down the sweat channels on my nose and figured it was simply my lot in life. Everybody has maladies: for some people it’s allergies; for others it’s body odor. Mine is the extremely poor eyesight that requires me to wear thick-rimmed glasses that don’t fit my face.

Finally, one day recently I broke down and complained to a friend about not being able to see while I run. She reached into her bag and whipped out a pair of sunglasses with—wait for it—a glasses chain dangling from the frames. I looked at her quizzically. Granted, it was a sporty cloth version of a glasses chain, but a glasses chain nonetheless. What was she doing wearing the very thing that once marked me as a nerdy Teacher’s Pet?

I’ll tell you what she was doing. She was wearing sunglasses that wouldn’t fall down her face or over her head, that’s what. She was taking a stand against the judgmental third graders of the world, and making the fight look pretty good in her aviator sunglasses with the bright orange strap cascading down her back. And I decided in that moment that I want to be a part of the fight.

Some cursory Google research on ‘glasses chains’ yielded prolific results. As it happens, they are actually called ‘Eyewear Retainers’ (or in some cases, ‘Peeper Keepers’). In addition to the kind Mrs. Wilson had, there are specialized versions made just for babies, water polo, and every sport that involves a bouncing or lunging motion. For those who are more interested in practicality than a necklace-like chain, they come in a variety of fabrics, including cotton, rope, and synthetics. You may find them in colors from eggshell white to angry chartreuse, and strangely, even though they’re all adjustable anyway, you can purchase them in a custom-fit size. And they are yours for the low price of about $6.50 a pop!

So what’s not to love about this unique blend of practicality and style? Whether you’re a runner, biker, hopper, or you simply want to look as good as Mrs. Wilson, there is an eyewear retainer on the market that’s screaming your name. As for me, I’m now the proud owner of seven glasses chains—one for every day of the week.

This could be you.

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.