By Rob Woods
Silhouette glasses are light, typically rimless and nearly invisible glasses often constructed with a thin, three-part titanium alloy frame.
But the thing Silhouette is known for is the feeling: Fans of the eyewear say wearing these glasses feels like they’re not wearing any glasses at all. The most famous Silhouette rimless glasses, called the Titan Minimal Art, not only ditch the frames but the screws and hinges as well, making them just 1.8 grams.
While the company’s most famous frames are rimless — which come in more than 400 different lenses and five colors — Silhouette has recently expanded into whisper-thin frames and wire accents that appeal to the thicker-frame crowd, while keeping with the company’s featherlight, minimalist aesthetic.
Because Silhouette’s unique design strips away common elements like screws and hinges, this makes repair a little tricky: You can’t buy a glasses repair kit at the drugstore and expect to fix Silhouette glasses. However, it’s not impossible to fix your frames, and there are many ways to repair them, from do-it-yourself methods to sending them off to a professional.
How to buy Silhouette glasses
Silhouette is a European company headquartered in Linz, Austria. Because they have no brick-and-mortar or online stores, discovering where to buy Silhouette glasses can be slightly more difficult in the U.S. Their website has a Silhouette glasses retailer search feature, or you may find them through select online retailers like FramesDirect or SmartBuyGlasses.
Whether you’re buying online or in person, one of the benefits of these glasses is that you can usually outfit them with all kinds of different lens shapes and types, including prescription lenses, readers, progressive lenses or even clear, “plano” lenses just for the aesthetic.
When ordering online, be sure to have your prescription handy. You’ll also need to take some measurements, which the online retailer should be able to guide you through. Silhouette rimless models are available with three bridge size options: The temples, or arms, range from 130mm to 160mm with multiple sizes available in each collection. The full and half-rim models have a slightly smaller selection of sizes.
Finally, when searching for Silhouettes online, you may be routed to rimless, titanium Silhouette glasses knockoffs. While they may look similar, it’s important to note that unless the frames are specifically manufactured by Silhouette, they are not true Silhouette titanium glasses. You can compare the specs of these rimless glasses to authentic Silhouettes to determine if they will meet your needs, but if you’re looking for the real thing, double-check the manufacturer.
How to try on Silhouette glasses
Because of the company’s limited availability in the U.S. and its large selection of products, it’s difficult to try on Silhouette glasses in person. You may find it helpful to use the Silhouette glasses virtual try-on on the company’s website.
The process is spelled out there, but it’s fairly simple:
Find and face a light source.
Align your face with the oval on the screen.
Take off any glasses you are wearing and tuck your hair back.
Record a video of you slowly turning your head to the left, back to center and then to the right.
You may also optionally hold a credit card or credit card-sized plastic card against your forehead for scale.
This application allows you to see the frames from any angle so you get a fuller idea of what they will look like. You can also try on any frame available — a selection that likely exceeds your local retailer’s.
Once you’ve found the right frames, find a retailer, either locally or one that offers online ordering. Online retailers may have their own virtual try-on options as well.
How to buy Silhouette clip-on sunglasses
If you love your Silhouette glasses, you may want to add sun and UV protection. The company offers five shapes, two sizes and three colors in their Style Shades clip-on collection. These clips come in larger sizes than the prescription lenses to give the frame a “true sunglasses look.”
Clip-on shades can be ordered through a local optician or online eyeglasses retailer.
Conversely, you could order Silhouette sunglasses, which come in a range of styles — hinged and hinge-free temples; classic frame shapes, including aviators, butterfly and cat-eye; and round, square and oval lenses that can be mixed and matched in a myriad of ways.
SEE RELATED: Are clip-on sunglasses right for you?
How to repair Silhouette glasses
Once you’ve ordered and worn your glasses, you occasionally may need a repair. Most of the frames can be repaired, and due to their minimalist, deconstructed design, many of the Silhouette glasses parts can be replaced, according to the company’s website. But first, it’s important to understand how Silhouette glasses (or most rimless glasses, for that matter) differ from other eyewear.
Silhouette frames are constructed with a three-piece drill mount. The glasses are made by drilling two holes directly through the lenses on each side and mounting the three pieces into those holes — each arm at the temple, and the bridge between the two lenses. These points are secured using compression mounting secured with bushings, which are soft, clear plastic parts that secure the screws attached to the arms and bridge.
If you need to repair your Silhouette frames, begin by contacting the retailer where you purchased the glasses before undertaking any repairs yourself. Follow this step-by-step guide to initiating repairs.
Contact your optician or eyeglasses retailer about repairs. Describe the problem and see if they will fix your glasses and determine the cost.
Always ask about warranties: Because Silhouette only sells products directly to retailers, it does not offer a consumer warranty, so a Silhouette glasses warranty would come directly from the retailer.
If your retailer won’t be able to repair your glasses, or the cost is prohibitive, don’t give up yet. Look up which Silhouette glasses replacement parts you will need to fix the glasses. If you know the specific style of your glasses — something you would likely find on a receipt or through your retailer’s records — that will help your search. There are several variations of these parts, however, so it’s important to know which frames you have before you attempt any repairs.
Search online for repair videos. There are plenty of options available, though not all of them will give you enough details to complete a repair yourself. Either way, this will help you understand whether or not the repair is too complicated to complete yourself.
If none of the above options work for you, look for a local or online eyeglass repair company. There are many options online that specifically repair Silhouette glasses at affordable prices, starting from around $25 to $50.
NEED REPAIR TIPS FOR OTHER TYPES OF EYEGLASSES? Read Broken glasses: Repair methods and cost.
If you’re looking for more information about specific parts and fixes, check out these common replacement parts and how to repair them.
Silhouette glasses replacement arm or temple
Drill-mounted glasses may seem intimidating to take apart and repair, but they’re as complicated as you might fear. It’s important to be gentle and precise to avoid scratching or breaking the lenses, but it is possible.
Issues with the arm/temple include a snapped arm, irreparably bent arm, loose arm (when it wobbles due to a broken screw or bushing) or a broken hinge. Before ordering a new arm, make sure you know the style and length of the arm.
Before you start repairs, check the lenses for cracks. If there are any cracks between the two drill holes or around them, the glasses are likely not repairable without a new lens.
If you’re going to repair the temple yourself, consider following videos online that walk you through the process. There are varying methods, some that don’t include special tools, though you will need a small poking tool, about the size of a thin thumbtack, to clear the drill holes of any parts, a clipper or cutting plier to snip excess bushing, and pliers that are covered with a rubber protector to avoid damaging the lens to squeeze the parts together.
To give you an idea of how you might repair these glasses yourself:
Removing the temples/arms:
Carefully cut the soft, plastic bushing off the back, inside of the lens.
With the back portion of the bushing gone, you should be able to gently wiggle and pull out the temple/arm.
Remove any parts stuck inside the drill holes, like leftover plastic bushing or the broken portion of the screw, with your pin. Ensure this area is clean.
Repair the temples/arms with new parts:
Take the new bushings and gently push them through the back, inside of the lens so the two soft, plastic prongs are sticking out the front of the lens.
Using clippers, cut the excess bushing away.
Place the new temple/arm screws inside the bushings in the drill holes.
Using pliers, gently squeeze, applying enough pressure to push the parts together, but not enough to damage the lens.
Silhouette glasses replacement bridge
The bridge mounts the same way as the temple, with two holes drilled into the lens. The bridge can be replaced similarly, by removing the part and replacing it with a new one as outlined above.
Typical problems with this area include a broken bridge, an irreparably bent bridge or a wobbly bridge (the last of which indicates a broken screw or bushing). You will likely need to order a new bridge and will need to know your bridge size before ordering. You can measure your bridge or consult the paperwork you received when ordering your glasses.
Silhouette glasses replacement lenses
You can order new lenses for your Silhouette glasses, though finding replacement prescription lenses through the manufacturer may be difficult. Many glasses retailers may offer their own lenses as a replacement, and you’ll hardly know the difference. If you need prescription replacement lenses, contact your optician or optometrist.
SEE RELATED: When should I replace my eyeglasses?
Silhouette glasses nose pads
This is a simple replacement, and the parts are easy to find; you can even buy them on Amazon. You should measure your nose pads first, from top to bottom, to ensure you’re ordering the right size.
Simply slip the old nose pads off and replace them with the new ones. If you’re looking to refresh your nose pads because they’ve worn down or gotten uncomfortable, this is a simple upgrade.
Talk to an eye care professional
While it is certainly possible to fix Silhouette glasses yourself, if handling these repairs makes you nervous, seek a qualified professional or ask your eye doctor.
Ultimately, your best bet is to avoid at-home repairs if at all possible. To prevent the need for repairs, make sure you have a quality Silhouette glasses case or any hard-shell case that fits, and use it whenever you aren’t wearing your glasses. Because these frames are so delicate, they require gentle care.
If you’re typically pretty hard on your glasses, Silhouette may not be the right brand for you. However, if you’re looking for eyewear that feels and looks like you’re hardly wearing glasses at all, and you trust yourself to take care of them, these are a top-of-the-line choice.
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Page published on Wednesday, March 24, 2021