The D.C. War Over 'Hipster Glasses'

Jay Carney wears cool glasses: now fight about it

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Washington, D.C. has never been known as a particularly stylish city. In fact, it has a reputation for housing unsightly career types, who wallow about K Street in crisply-pressed Dockers and squeaky clean Stafford button-downs. So when White House press secretary Jay Carney recently burst into the press briefing room with a stylish new pair of thick-framed glasses, the city was ill-prepared to deal with the consequences. "They're hipster," a reporter noted. "Really?" Carney replied. "I thought they were sort of retro-nerdy." Sensing a journalistic inroad, The Washington Post published a nearly 2,000-word trend piece today on "hipster glasses" titled "Are hipster glasses over? How they went from geek to chic to weak." It's a long and rather confused thesis that claims that everyone is wearing thick-framed glasses now, so they're not so special. And by the way, since when did glasses become so special? They never used to be special:

Decades ago, everyone who got glasses got the same pair. Glasses were just glasses — a tool, not a statement. Think of NASA Mission Control, with its many bespectacled rocket scientists in Houston evaluating The Problem. Today’s problem is not what we’re seeing with glasses, but what we’re saying with them. Eyewear has become me-wear.

Enter, Ryan Kearney of, who utterly dismantles said trend piece, making the obvious point that, yes, fashionable eyewear did exist in the past (examples here, here, here and here) and, by the way, the author of the article arguing that "hipster glasses" have gone from "chic to weak" actually wears said "hipster glasses" as documented here (it's Ned Martel, the smiling chap in the middle). "Compare them with Carney's glasses, which Martel derided," Kearney writes. "They're strikingly similar, unless you happen to be some sort of eyewear aesthete — but that would make you a hipster, and Martel is no hipster. Only hipsters, after all, wear aviators. Oops!"

You go, Kearney. Way to keep 'em honest!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.