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Is the monocle making a comeback? The New York Times says yes (UPDATE: Also, Mr. Peanut weighed in)

In what is unquestionably the most amazing trend story of the year, the New York Times has highlighted something wonderful: The resurgence of the monocle.

Is the monocle actually making a comeback? The story itself notes that the eyewear is “hardly everywhere.” Sure, Warby Parker sells one (“the perfect accessory for budding robber barons, post-colonial tyrants and super villains”), but is this a “trend” like beard transplants are a trend? It does not actually matter, because this story is perfect. Consider this, the opening line of the story:

The one-lensed eyepiece, an item favored by 19th-century military men, robber barons and Mr. Peanut, is finding itself wedged anew into the ocular sockets of would-be gentlemen seeking to emulate the stern countenances of their stuffy forebears.

Every single word in that line is a wonderful, perfectly-cut diamond. I almost didn’t want to keep reading, because I worried that there was no way the rest of it would live up to the beginning. But I was wrong to worry, because it only got better:

Martin Raymond, a British trend forecaster, credits the rise to what he calls “the new gents,” a hipster subspecies who have been adding monocles to their bespoke tweed and distressed-boot outfits. On a recent trip to Cape Town, Mr. Raymond said, he saw such a group carrying monocles along with tiny brass telescopes kept in satchels.

Someday, many years from now, future generations will look back and wonder what it was like living at the dawn of the 21st century. Did we worry for the future of the planet? Were we unknowingly on the precipice of some great, unimaginable leap forward? Now we have something that should be etched into stone and preserved forever, because it encapsulates so well what it was like to live in the year 2014 and to be part of the great monocle revival.

The history of the monocle is a matter of some dispute, if you were wondering. J. William Rosenthal wrote in the book “Spectacles and Other Vision Aids” that the monocle became popular in the latter half of the 18th century, particularly in France, though it’s unclear if the modern monocle emerged in Germany or England in the early 19th century.

Still, even in that era, the monocle was a fad that would emerge, fade and return, he explained.

“In the upper classes of society, they were worn as affectations and were therefore thought to indicate a certain amount of arrogance,” Rosenthal wrote.

If you’re looking for additional information about monocles, which of course you are, why wouldn’t you want additional information about monocles, this Slate story from 2012 about how monocles became symbols of wealth is pretty helpful.

Meanwhile, the “monocle trend story” also made an appearance in 2009 in London’s Daily Express, which name-checked the Penguin from Batman, Colonel Klink from “Hogan’s Heroes” and Napoleon, because monocle trend stories are apparently all wonderful.

Updated at 11:35 a.m.:

Important and urgent update here, folks. The most famous monocle-wearing legume in the world has weighed in, issuing a statement through his parent company’s public relations firm: 

(Courtesy of Planters)

“It’s been brought to my attention that Hipsters are following in my stylish footsteps by sporting monocles,” Mr. Peanut said (“said”) in a statement just emailed over by Shannon Lovich of the public relations agency Olson Engage. “I guess they understand what success on a man’s face looks like.”

Mr. Peanut, who is a peanut and who wears a monocle, also offered (“offered”) three tips for wearing a monocle: Focus on fashion first, try not to blink and remember that there is “only room for one monocle-wearing gentleman in a room.”

This concludes your monocle-related update from Mr. Peanut.


Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.
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