The Real Star of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? The Eyeglasses.

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 15 2011 1:50 PM

Spy Glasses: The Terrific Eyewear of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an intricate espionage thriller, but its real richness derives from its production design and period details. Not since Zodiac has a movie so fully recreated the look of the 1970s—and even if you have no idea what’s going on, at least you can admire the distinctly ’70s orange of the acoustic padding on the walls, the smoky haze in the air, or the cut of one of Benedict Cumberbatch’s many stylish suits.

Costume design is usually celebrated in films depicting Victorian balls and other worlds—just look at the last five Academy Award winners: Alice in Wonderland, The Young Victoria, The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Marie Antoinette—but extraordinary costume design can be found in much more than corsets and tiaras. Zodiac said just about everything it needed to say with its wonderful neckties, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy conveys as much with its eyewear.

Tinker Tailor is a movie about perception—about rooting out the mole hidden in plain sight among a few intelligence elites—and so it’s appropriate that glasses play such a prominent role in the film’s look. One of the final plot points revolves around the protagonist’s “blind spot” (as one character puts it)—how a personal matter could stop him from “seeing straight”—and the whole film revolves around each character’s ability to see the others clearly. But besides their symbolic importance, these vintage specs, no matter how nerdy they were at the time, also just look great. So here’s the stylish eyewear design of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.


Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.