“I like making bold statements”
Eco designer, furniture restorer, and award-winning presenter of the BBC’s The Repair Shop , Jay Blades, speaks to OT about his iconic frames
14 March 2021
How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?I have about 12 glasses, all in the same style but different colours. I don’t change. It also comes with working on TV, you have to have continuity. I probably have about 15 white shirts and 15 of the same trousers.
What frame shapes, colours or styles do you usually go for?I go for the same style. It’s kind of the style of the old National Health Service frames but mixed with a bit of Michael Caine.
In The Repair Shop I always wear black frames. If I’m going on a game show or doing something different, I would either wear my clear, grey, blue or light blue. I’ve got everything. The only colour I don’t have is red – I like all the colours in the spectrum, but I don’t really like red. I wear a mixture of eyewear brands, such as Paul Smith and Cubitts.
What attracted you to that particular style?I tried on many glasses before and they just didn’t look right. When I tried those on, my gut told me those were the ones. I’m a creature of habit so I buy the same things anyway. Sticking with the same glasses was just normal for me.
Who would you pick as your style icon of glasses wearers and why?With the style of glasses, it might be Michael Caine. His glasses made such an appearance. What I view from him wearing those big glasses was that he celebrated the fact that he was wearing them. I think it should be a celebration. It’s another fashion statement.
How long have you worn spectacles for, and what prompted you to go for your first sight test?I’ve been wearing spectacles for about two, or maybe three years. My eyesight was getting bad and I needed to get my eyes checked.
How important is eyewear in reflecting your personality?I think the eyewear has become iconic because I’ve got a very distinctive look: I wear a white shirt, waistcoat, hat and glasses. It reflects my style, but my eyewear does also help me. I would be squinting all the time if I didn’t have them.
If you try a frame and they’ve worked for you and you feel good wearing them – that is the best thing. It’s all about how you feel wearing them
As a designer yourself, what is important to you about the eyewear you choose?What sways my judgement is handmade. I like things that are not necessarily made in a factory. I prefer to have a handmade pair of glasses, and if they are handmade in UK, that is even better.
Has your perception of eyewear changed?I have always felt this way. My eyewear has a practical use and I thought, as it’s part of my style and I’m going to be wearing them every day, I have to feel comfortable with them. They have to reflect me. I like making bold statements: I make colourful furniture, I wear colourful clothing when I’m outside of The Repair Shop. I always have a hint of colour, or boldness, and the glasses reflect that. When I’m at The Repair Shop, all my colours are sort of the same, black or blue with a white shirt, and the boldest statement is my glasses.
My attitude hasn’t really changed. I think we should celebrate our differences. If the difference is that you are short-sighted, long-sighted or need glasses, let’s celebrate that. That’s just what we are, we’re all completely different. As soon as we start acting the same, it becomes a sad state of affairs as there is no individualism to it, it becomes kind of boring.
What are your top tips for selecting the right pair of frames?I think the only tip I can give is what happened to me. I tried on a number of frames and as soon as you try on a frame that feels good and looks good to you, that’s the frame for you. I think you should never try to copy or do something that someone else has done. If you try a frame and they’ve worked for you and you feel good wearing them – that is the best thing. It’s all about how you feel wearing them.