One of the most affecting scenes in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — a movie with specious title punctuation and a surprise, twist-y ending — comes about halfway through, when Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate just happens to pass by a movie theater. For maybe the first time, she sees her name big and bold and on a movie theater marquee: Sharon Tate in The Wrecking Crew. She decides to get a ticket, even poses for a photo for the ticket-taker, and eventually finds a seat among the civilian moviegoers inside. As the movie plays, she’s silently amused, glowing, watching her own work reflected back on her. She slips off her boots, puts her (frankly, filthy) feet up on the seat in front of her, and reclines. And then she takes out a truly incredible pair of glasses.
Forget Leonardo DiCaprio’s sideburns and leather ensemble, or Brad Pitt’s moccasins. (Brad Pitt peeling his shirt off, however, is a discussion for another day.) Margot Robbie’s reading glasses are this movie’s most glamorous accessory, oddly because they’re so normal. The frames add to the sum of the scene: Washed up star Rick Dalton (and Leo, for that matter) is capital-A Acting across town; meanwhile, Sharon Tate is lounging in an air-conditioned theater, watching her star crest. She laughs at herself and her efforts, and then she takes out her reading glasses and puts them on, as if she’s examining herself even closer. There are two things in life I am particularly tickled by: hearing famous people and people I respect swear, and seeing famous people and people I respect unexpectedly wearing glasses. The act of wearing them suggests an utterly mundane aspect of life: Either this glamorous, cool person wakes up everyday and reaches for their glasses first thing, or they carry a pair in their purse just in case. Maybe they run out of contact solution too, just like me. It’s all so pedestrian. In a languid narrative like Once Upon A Time’s, it the smallest detail that really works.
It helps that the glasses are big and stylish: wide, thick frames that extend as high as the eyebrow, and drop low enough to conceal any under-eye bags. No thank you to the sleek Gattaca-esque frames favored by 20-something supermodels. The big, plastic frames Sharon Tate pulls out are geeky in a way that’s unbothered. I want them! Sadly, the movie’s costume designer, Arianne Phillips, wasn’t available for comment, so I have once again taken it upon myself to round up a selection of similar styles. Here are a dozen or so examples of big, wide frames — sometimes plastic, sometimes metal — that are perfect for slumping down in a movie-theater seat and watching yourself onscreen. Or, you know, anything else.