Does Wearing Glasses You Don’t Need Make You Look Smart?

Do eyeglasses make entrepreneurs look smarter and affect people's perception?

woman wearing optical glasses

In the world of business, it sometimes seems like any edge you can get is an important one. Currently, there’s a fashion trend to wear glasses that you don’t actually need to make yourself appear smarter and more trustworthy.

Should you don a fresh pair of specs, even if you don’t need them?

The science behind wearing glasses and intelligence perception

In psychology, a field that never ceases to intrigue, glasses are frequently associated with the perception of higher intelligence. Many studies have reinforced this stereotype, leading to a common belief that individuals wearing glasses appear smarter. So powerful is this concept that some individuals, even after vision correction through LASIK or contacts, still opt for non-prescription glasses to appear intelligent. Wearing glasses impacts more than just your style; it can also shape how people view your intelligence and reliability.

While embracing the “nerdiness” or “geek-chic” look with glasses might seem appealing, it’s essential to consider the potential repercussions. If colleagues find out you don’t need glasses, it could undermine their trust in you. Think carefully before wearing glasses just for style, as it could change how people see your honesty and character. The effects of wearing glasses on personal appearance can be a double-edged sword, enhancing your image or potentially damaging your reputation.

The glasses stereotype: fact or fiction?

In the realm of personal appearance, the stereotype that glasses make a person look smarter has long been a subject of debate. Research has often linked eyewear to a perception of intelligence, a trend that has even led to some individuals wearing non-prescription glasses to enhance their professional image. But is this stereotype grounded in reality? Studies have indeed reinforced this belief, leading to a common notion that individuals wearing glasses appear more intelligent and trustworthy.

This trend is so widespread that some individuals still wear frames even after vision correction, solely to appear intellectual. However, this choice can be a double-edged sword, potentially enhancing one’s image or damaging one’s reputation.

On the other hand, the decision to wear glasses as a mere fashion statement should be approached with caution. While embracing the “nerdiness” or “geek-chic” look might seem appealing, it’s essential to consider the potential repercussions. Wearing glasses you don’t need in the workplace might lead to broken trust if someone discovers the truth. The effects of wearing glasses on personal appearance can be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on the context and the individual’s authenticity and integrity.

While being more productive is a goal many strive for, donning a pair of non-prescription glasses solely for the aesthetic might actually distract you and others, diluting the focus from what really matters—your skills and contributions. Therefore, the stereotype of glasses equating to intelligence is both a fact and a fiction, depending on how it’s embraced and the motives behind it. The choice to wear glasses, whether for fashion or necessity, should be made with awareness and consideration of how it may affect others’ perceptions.

Psychology does say that glasses make us think someone is smarter

Many studies have held up this stereotype. When we see someone wearing glasses, we automatically think of them as smarter, without conscious awareness of the perception. Glasses wearers tend to do better in interviews. This concept is so pervasive that some people go through LASIK or get contacts to correct their vision, and then still wear non-prescription glasses to keep up the appearance.

Nerd is in

Whether you want to call it nerdiness, adorable, or geek-chic, the truth is that being smart is cool for the first time in a long time. Last fall, there was even a trend where people eschewed the lenses altogether, wearing empty frames.

What you do for fashion is your own business, but think carefully before you decide to wear glasses that you don’t need in the workplace. Here are our top reasons why.

Someone will find out, and you’ll break your trust in them

Whether it’s a boss or a client, someone will eventually suss out that your glasses are fashion only. Then, you have to have The Talk, where you explain that no, you don’t need glasses, you just wear them to be fashionable. At best, you’re going to be that weird person who wears glasses they don’t need, and at worst, you’re going to seriously hurt someone who doesn’t have the option of LASIK or contacts (they do exist!) and consider glasses a medical aid. Even worse, if the client or co-worker perceives you as lying about your glasses, the next question is “Well, what else are they lying about?” Not a conversation you want to have.

Celebrity influence on glasses as a fashion accessory

The influence of celebrities on fashion trends is undeniable, and this extends to the world of eyewear. When it comes to choosing glasses for style, not vision, the impact of famous personalities is profound. Icons like Johnny Depp, with his signature round frames, or Sarah Jessica Parker’s chic oversized glasses, have shaped the way people perceive glasses as more than just a necessity for vision correction. These trendsetters have transformed glasses into a symbol of sophistication and style, making them a must-have accessory for fashion enthusiasts.

The cultural significance of wearing glasses as a fashion statement has been further amplified by the media and popular culture. Movies and television shows often depict characters with glasses as intelligent and thoughtful, reinforcing the association between glasses and wisdom. This portrayal, coupled with the endorsement of glasses by influential celebrities, has created a surge in people wearing glasses for a look, even when they don’t need them for vision correction.

The trend reflects a broader shift in society’s perception of glasses, recognizing them as versatile accessories that can enhance one’s appearance and express individuality. Whether it’s a bold statement piece or a subtle addition to an outfit, glasses have become an integral part of modern fashion, thanks to the influence of celebrity culture.

  1. Blue Light Filtering: Non-prescription glasses often come with blue light filtering options, which can protect your eyes from digital strain.
  2. Social Media Influence: Instagram influencers are increasingly promoting “clear glasses” as a fashion statement, impacting consumer behavior.
  3. Workplace Perception: A Harvard Business Review article highlighted that glasses can influence how colleagues perceive your leadership skills.
  4. Celebrity Endorsements: Brands like Warby Parker have leveraged celebrity partnerships to make non-prescription glasses trendy.
  5. Fashion Industry: Major fashion houses like Gucci and Prada have introduced non-prescription eyewear lines, signaling a market shift.

There are many other ways to make sure you appear smart

Such as:

  • Dress professionally wherever you are. In some regions of the world, you’d better show up in a suit; in others, khakis and a polo pass for business casual. Know what situation you’re going into and dress for it.
  • Know your field and speak intelligently about it, but don’t pepper your conversation with jargon and fancy words just to sound smarter than you are. People can tell the difference between the words you know and the words you’re using to show off, and they tend to think you’re less intelligent if you need to show off.
  • Listen as much as you talk. If no one can get a word in around you, people often think that you’re nervous, and wonder what you’re nervous about. Listening to other people talking and then contributing your own thoughts or asking intelligent questions will get you a lot farther.
  • Keep your language appropriate. This isn’t just about swearing – which is generally not workplace appropriate – but about using racially or sexually charged slurs or insults, or even telling off-color jokes in the workplace. In general, that sort of humor is going to make people think of you as less intelligent and polished. Leave it at the door.

Basically, where we’re going here is that you don’t need to compensate and put on a costume to appear smart. If you’re smart, just show it naturally, and if you feel that you’re not the quickest person in the room, then be the best. Fake glasses aren’t going to help to become a successful entrepreneur, and have the potential to damage your cause.

Impact of wearing glasses on professional life

Appearances often play a subtle yet significant role. Wearing glasses, even non-prescription ones, can indeed shape perceptions. Does wearing non-prescription glasses make you look intelligent? Some studies suggest that glasses are often associated with attributes like wisdom and competence. For instance, a 2011 study by the University of Vienna found that individuals wearing glasses were perceived as more intelligent and knowledgeable.

This perception can foster trust among colleagues and clients, potentially enhancing professional relationships. For people who wear glasses, the choice often goes beyond mere aesthetics; it’s a decision that can influence not only how they are perceived but also how they navigate social and professional settings.

However, it’s essential to approach this trend with caution and authenticity. Those who opt for contact lenses over glasses may miss out on the ‘intelligent’ stereotype, but they gain the advantage of not having their facial expressions obscured, offering a different kind of authenticity. While glasses may project an image of intellect, they must align with your genuine persona. Misalignment between appearance and actual capabilities can lead to mistrust or skepticism. Offering insights from recognized authorities in fashion and psychology, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, a renowned psychologist, emphasizes the importance of authenticity in personal appearance.

In the professional realm, trust is paramount, and it’s built on more than just appearances. Therefore, if you choose to wear glasses as a fashion statement, ensure that they complement your true self, fostering genuine connections and trust in your professional life.

Besides, take it from a long-time glasses wearer; there’s nothing great about wearing glasses. They smear all the time, they attract dust and grime. In hot weather, they make my nose and ears sweat. In cold weather, they fog up when I go inside, and make it difficult to wear a scarf without being unable to see. In fact, I spend as much time as possible not wearing my glasses, because they’re uncomfortable and annoying! People with glasses often face a unique set of challenges and advantages in the workplace, from the perception of increased intelligence to the practical issues of keeping lenses clean and fog-free.

Choosing the right glasses for your look

Face Shape Compatibility: Finding the perfect pair of glasses isn’t just about fashion; it’s about matching them with your face shape. If you have a round face, angular frames can add definition. For those with a square face, round or oval glasses soften the angles. Heart-shaped faces benefit from frames that balance the width of the forehead with the narrowness of the chin.

Here’s a tip: try on different styles and take selfies from various angles. Analyzing these pictures can help you see what fits best. Don’t be afraid to experiment; sometimes, the unexpected choice turns out to be the perfect one!

Visual Guides and Tips: Selecting glasses that enhance your look requires attention to detail. Consider the color of the frames. Do they complement your skin tone and hair color? Think about the size and thickness of the frames. Are they in harmony with your features? Remember, glasses are an extension of your personality. Whether you’re going for a professional appearance or a casual vibe, your glasses can make a statement.

Did You Know?

  • A study published in the Swiss Journal of Psychology found that not only do glasses make individuals appear more intelligent, but they also make them seem more likable and trustworthy. The study used identical photographs of the same person, with and without glasses, and the bespectacled version consistently scored higher in all categories.
  • The “intelligent glasses” stereotype has historical roots. During the 19th century, literacy was less common, and those who wore glasses were often the educated elite who needed them for reading. This historical context has contributed to the modern-day perception of glasses as a symbol of intelligence.
  • The “Halo Effect,” a cognitive bias where our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character, plays a significant role in the glasses stereotype. Essentially, if you believe someone is intelligent because they wear glasses, you’re more likely to perceive other positive traits about them, such as competence and professionalism.
  • The fashion industry has caught on to the “smart glasses” trend. Luxury brands like Tom Ford and Chanel have released non-prescription lines specifically targeting those who want the intellectual look without the optical correction. These fashion-forward frames are often marketed as “vanity glasses.”
  • In a study by the College of Optometrists, it was found that 43% of people think glasses make someone look more professional. Interestingly, the study also revealed that 36% of adults who don’t need prescription glasses have worn them to look more professional at work or during interviews.

Pros and cons of wearing glasses you don’t need


Enhancing Your Look: Non-prescription glasses are more than a fashion statement; they’re a personality accent. Whether you’re aiming for chic sophistication or a bold, modern edge, various styles await your exploration. For many, glasses are more than an accessory—they’re a boost to self-assurance and a finishing touch to a well-composed look.

Shielding Your Eyes: Even without corrective lenses, glasses act as a protective shield against everyday annoyances like dust and wind. Plus, many offer UV protection, going a step further in preserving your eye health. It’s a functional advantage that transcends mere style. Eye care shouldn’t be overlooked in this discussion; wearing non-prescription glasses without proper UV protection or blue light filtering could actually be detrimental to your eye health.

Influencing Perceptions: Could glasses change the way people see you? It seems they might. Research, including a study by The College of Optometrists, has revealed that those who wear glasses are often seen as more thoughtful and capable.


Questionable Expense: Is it wise to buy non-prescription glasses, particularly if driven solely by aesthetics? Quality doesn’t come cheap, and without a health-related reason, the value of such an investment may be hard to justify.

Potential for Discomfort: Glasses that are more about appearance than function can sometimes lead to physical discomfort. Improperly fitted frames might trigger headaches or place undue pressure on your nose and ears. Selecting the right fit and staying in tune with how they feel is key to avoiding these issues.

Creating Confusion: While some associate glasses with intelligence, others might interpret them as an affectation or a mask of authenticity. This mismatch in perceptions might spark misunderstandings or even judgments regarding your true self.

  1. Face Shape Analysis: Utilize face recognition apps that suggest the best frame styles for your face shape.
  2. Virtual Try-On: Many online retailers offer virtual try-on features to visualize how the glasses will look on you.
  3. Consult an Optician: Even for non-prescription glasses, an optician can help you find the right fit to avoid discomfort.
  4. Anti-Reflective Coating: Consider this option to reduce glare and eye strain, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of screens.
  5. Return Policies: Always check the return and warranty policies when buying non-prescription glasses, as comfort and fit can be unpredictable.

In summary: don’t wear glasses unless you need them.


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