epa04099121 Texas Governor Rick Perry chats before listening to US President Barack Obama speak to the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 24 February 2014. The governors are in DC for their winter meeting. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO Rick Perry, sporting those eye-catching frames at the White House this week.  EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

Seems Washington is taking another look at Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The failed Republican presidential candidate has been making the rounds in Washington this week during the National Governors’ Association annual winter meeting, and there’s a feeling that there’s something… well, different about him these days. Perhaps it’s those thick, dark spectacles he’s sporting, giving him a certain air of gravitas he lacked on the campaign trail.

They say glasses make one look smarter — and the studious look might just suit a guy trying to shake off the image of a lightweight cowboy who couldn’t recite his own talking points.

A Perry spokesman tells us that they are, in fact, prescription lenses (read: he’s not faking it!). Perry had not previously worn contact lenses, the spokesman says, but began wearing glasses last summer. No word on which designer makes the stylish, squared-off frames.

He certainly could have opted for more-subtle shades, leading us to think that the hipster glasses are a statement. So what’s he saying? And once they’ve been worn by a middle-aged dad from Paint Creek, Texas, can they really be “hipster?”

Grant Harris, a Washington-based personal stylist, says thick black frames like Perry’s exude not just intelligence, but confidence and credibility. “Very suitable for a governor in Texas,” he says.

Neither Harris, nor a few other menswear experts we polled, would use the h-word to describe them, though.

Perhaps the shades are simply a way for the governor to go incognito, lest he be mobbed by admirers — or at least quote-seeking reporters.  Our colleague Dan Balz snapped this photo  on Saturday in which the casually-dressed gov is almost unrecognizable: