Hip To Be Square: Difference Between Nerd and Hipster Glasses

True Hipster Glasses

Photo Credit: Christopher Michel

Do you remember your first pair of glasses?  Imagine back to say, 1st grade, and even though you had nearly perfect vision the Dr. recommended that you wear a pair to read, for preventative reasons.  Back then, most kids would have hated those things.  You would have felt like such a nerd.  So much in fact that that maybe you purposely let them fall off of your face and “accidentally” ran over them while in gym class.

Fast forward to adulthood and glasses are no longer just for the nerdy or the vision impaired, but also for the super trendy, aka: hipsters.  You can buy non-prescription pairs at basically any popular retail store.  So are glasses no longer nerdy, and instead, super cool, or, is there a difference between nerd glasses and hipster glasses? Yes and no. Not a cut and dry answer, but let’s explore why.

To get to the bottom of this question, one must first understand the difference between nerds and hipsters.  Yes, there is a difference.

Stylish Nerd or Mere Hipster?

Nerds identify as very intellectual.  These guys and gals are the kind of smart that most people can’t even wrap their heads around.  Some career paths for nerds might include Physics, Computer Programming, or Rocket Science.  Nerds tend to be socially awkward and typically run in circles with other nerds.

Hipsters identify as very philosophical although it would be argued by most that they’re mostly just dismissive.  Some career paths for hipsters might include Bartender, Artist, or Co-op Cashier. Hipsters tend to be very fashion aware although they’ll pretend not to be.  Hipsters will basically hang out with anyone and tend to shun anything thought of as “mainstream.”

So there is a clear difference between nerds and hipsters, but what about their glasses? Is there a difference between the glasses that nerds wear vs. the glasses that hipsters wear?

Hipster Glasses: Checking Definitions

True Nerd Glasses

Photo Credit: Jordann

A quick internet search gets you a wikiHow page titled “5 Ways to be a Hipster”, and various websites where you can purchase them.  Finding actual prescription hipster eyewear deems a bit more difficult, but it can be done.

When you search google for hipster frames you’re rewarded with links to photo blogs, retail stores marketed to teenagers, and even a few bands; oddly all very hipsteresque results.  When you look up the definition of hipster frames, the result is the exact same as the result for the definition of nerd glassesSo aesthetically the glasses that nerds and hipsters wear are very similar, if not identical.  Their reasoning for wearing such glasses however is very different.

True Reasons To Wear Black Frame Glasses: A Closer Look

It’s already been established that nerds tend to be a very educated bunch.  They stick with their own kind and don’t care much for what is and what isn’t fashionable.  So the easy assumption would be that nerds who wear glasses do so because they are vision impaired.  They need to wear glasses to see better, so they wear glasses.  Not caring much about their appearance or creating a fashion statement they’ll wear big horn rimmed glasses if they’re going to improve their vision.  Simple as that.

Hipster Wearing Browlines

Hipster wearing browline glasses

Hipster’s motivations for wearing those vintage glasses however, are not quite as easy to explain, and that is mostly because it’s pointless.  Hipsters are very fashion conscious and very ironic.  It’s been said that hipsters shave the easy stuff off of the top of whatever culture they’re emulating at the time without spending the time to work to actually attain being a part of said culture.  So for instance, rather than studying really hard and attaining an actual nerd status, they’ll just wear the glasses and call it a day.

Basically, hipsters wear glasses because they look cool.  And by cool I mean the glasses are a part of the nerd culture that hipsters have decided to emulate.  Now obviously there have to be some hipsters out there who wear glasses because they too are vision impaired, yes.  In general however, hipster glasses seem to be more of a fashion statement for hipsters rather than having much or any medical benefit.  If this were not the case, why would hipster warehouses sell non-prescription glasses?  What in the world is the point of wearing glasses with no prescription unless you think it looks cool?

Check Out the Top Favorite Hipster Frames on Amazon

 Ray Ban RX5206
Rectangle Glasses
Ray Ban RX5184
Wayfarer Glasses
Ray Ban RX5154
Browline Glasses
Amazon Ray Ban Rectangle Hipster GlassesAmazon Ray Ban Wayfarer Hipster GlassesAmazon Ray Ban Browline Hipster Glasses
Amazon Rating4.50 Stars4.10 Stars4.5 Stars
Customer Reviews67 Reviews36 Reviews
Frame MaterialPlasticPlasticPlastic
Dimensions5.5 x 2 x 1.3 inches5.7 x 2 x 1.5 inches6.4 x 2.9 x 1.5 inches
Price* $$$$$$$$$
* $ = under $10, $$ = $10 to $40, $$$ = $40 to $100

Bottom line, yes, there is a difference between why nerds wear glasses and why (most) hipsters wear glasses, but the glasses themselves with the exception of whether they were bought at the local mall or at the kind you buy at an optometrist’s office are aesthetically basically the same.  However, most people would probably say it much more nerdy to wear glasses you don’t need than it is to wear glasses because you need them. Just a thought.