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The Mid-Century American P3

By Dieworkwear @dieworkwear

The Mid-Century American P3


Logan Persall Smith once said, “He who goes against the fashion is himself its slave.” Which is what someone could accuse me of being at this point. I’ve been wearing Shuron Revelations for about eight years, and for the last few of them, have been noticing that they’ve been becoming more and more popular, particularly among the “hipster” subset of young people in San Francisco. Guys in really tight jeans, plaid shirts, and half shaven beards. It’s silly, but it makes me want to change my eyewear.

So I‘ve been considering three options - Oliver Peoples’ Riley, C.W. Dixey & Son’s 03 Chartwell, and a range of options from Ben Silver. All three are within the P3 style of eye frames. P3s are sometimes referred to as tortoiseshell glasses, for the material they were originally made from, though nowadays, everything is made from acetate and just made to look like tortoiseshell. Real-deal tortoiseshells are illegal in most parts of the world now, and for good reason, but you can still get them if you’re willing to pay astronomical prices in Japan (and support an ethically questionable trade). 

The P3s appeal to me in that they have a very 1950s, 1960s American sensibility. In some ways, that makes them similar to my Shuron Revelations, which are a slightly modernized version of the Ronsir, an iconic 1960s frame as seen on Malcolm X, Roscoe Holcomb, and about every actor who plays a government man from that period. Like the Revelations/ Ronsirs, P3s feel slightly mild mannered and conservative. They have what Bruce Boyer once called “the hallmark simplicity of their shape, sentimental references to callow youth, and just a whiff of bookish charm.” That’s what I originally liked about my Revelations, though now I feel like they have an edgy rock-and-roll association that I don’t care to be associated with. So perhaps it’s time to move on. Or, maybe I’ll just ignore the whole thing and continuing wearing my Revelations. Purposefully throwing out something good just because it’s become trendy seems just as silly as buying something for the same reason. We’ll see.  

Below are photos from Ben Silver’s eyewear catalog. Not everything here is a P3, but  the mixture of good looking eyewear and handsome fabrics was enough for me to include them here. Beautiful photos, aren’t they?


The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3

The Mid-Century American P3


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