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?

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, adorkable, 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 all together, 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 trust with 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 considers 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.

There are many other ways to make sure you appear smart.

Such as:

  • Dress professionally for 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.

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!

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


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