Chloé Seytre, courtesy of Owen Burke/Business Insider
- Persol’s classic 714 folding sunglasses were the first of their kind, featured upon the schnoz of the one and only Steve McQueen in 1968’s "The Thomas Crown Affair."
- They remain, far and away, the most iconic pair of folding shades on earth, and there’s still nothing quite like them.
- Right now, they’re only $279.99 (down from their usual $480) as part of Otticanet’s summer sale, and you can get them with a prescription for $48 to $156, depending on your prescription.
I don’t know when I first decided I wanted to be Steve McQueen, but as for many if not most American males born within the last 60 or 70 years, I think it’s safe to assume that it was right around the time I saw him riding in that dune buggy in "The Thomas Crown Affair." He just looked too damned cool.
I begged my parents for a dune buggy like that one. One of my best friends got one instead. I resented him. Deeply. And Faye Dunaway was of no interest at the time. What was left? That Baracuta G9 Harrington jacket? Meh, a little generic for my taste. Those sunglasses. Those Persol 714s. The first folding sunglasses to make it to market, mind you. They would do. They had a certain highly technical, futuristic, 007 aesthetic that just etched right into my little sponge of a brain and sent my imagination flying.
Of course, those were out of the question, too. Then I saw "The Blues Brothers," and you can picture my parents’ relief: A cheap-o pair of knockoff Wayfarers were much more manageable a concession for my parents to make, and McQueen and his 714 sunglasses were suddenly all but forgotten.
Just kidding, but I learned that it was best to put a button on it. Mom and Dad worked hard, after all, and the last thing they’d ever do would be to spend three figures on a pair of sunglasses for a hapless, peripatetic boy wont to losing, breaking, and generally obliterating every little thing in his path. So I planted that seed in the back of my head. Someday, I’d have my Persol 714 sunglasses.
On specs, design, and, yes, style
The 714 sunglasses are a folding version of the brand’s 649, save for a few minor details. And this iteration of them is hardly any different from the original, other than that they fold inward, rather than downward, which seems to make more sense overall. Still, make sure to have a sunglasses screwdriver on hand to keep the screws in place (you’ll only have to do this every once in a while).
They still have the classic Persol Supreme Arrow, the sleek metal hardware and temple pieces through the acetate frames, and thick, polarized crystal lenses — which, I can attest, might be harder for a young, spirited boy to scratch than my parents thought after all. They also, of course, have Steve McQueen printed on the inside stem.
The 714s fold into a tiny little case, which is great for anyone on the move, and no excuse for you to not fold them up and always have their case in your pocket. (Caveat: I’m guilty.)
The bottom line
If you’ve ever wanted a pair of Persol 714 sunglasses, and you’ve got a little scratch to spare, now is the time, my friend. These glasses can sell for upwards of $500, and there’s nothing like crystal lenses, if you’re in need of a pair. Take even moderately decent care of these shades and you’ll have them for life.
Pros: Crystal glass, solid metal hardware, you’ll instantly morph into Steve McQueen when wearing them
Cons: You’ll want to keep a glasses screwdriver handy to adjust the screws (but since the case is so small, it’s not a cumbersome task)
Buy the Persol 714 Steve McQueen sunglasses from Otticanet for $279.99 (originally $480+ from Persol) after entering promotional code "SUMMER19" at checkout
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