First posted a few years ago, this updated editorial celebrates our continuous sartorial Hunt of Patience & Virtue, in the endearing fortitude of Rule #10. Looking good does not have to cost an arm and a leg and a kidney and half your soul. When you want a particular item, no matter how rare and expensively out-of-reach it may appear, you have to keep marching forward no matter the monstrous size of the task. And maybe one day, whether it be a month or a year from now, you’ll taste the satisfaction of playing the long game. You’ll will certainly lose many battles along the way, but you will be the ultimate winner in your personal vengeful war. Don’t let the House win. The game is all yours to overcome.
What I am actually talking about? In the continuous mission of proving to you the reader that style can indeed be had on a budget, I present to you my latest victory as a prime example of Rule #10 in action.
From my sunglasses article, you will know that I have a huge fondness for Persol eyewear. I own the PO2965V in “Havana” Tortoise Shell as my fashionable prescription pair, and the James Bond-esque PO2803 in polarized Black shades. I wanted to complete my Persol addiction with one more pair that serves as a topstone jewel to my Italian-bred pyramid of eye protection. And once I get in my head this kind of bloodlust, I start an unrelenting Hunt for it that will not end until the trophy is mine. Moby Dick had his Great White Whale. I have my Persol 714SM.
Some background history: The 714 is arguably the most iconic frame design in the history of eyewear. Our Patron of Cool, Saint Steve McQueen, made the 714 model (along with the classic 649 that is an icon in its own right) world-famous almost half a century ago in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, seen with the the above instantly-recognizable cinema still. The dual designs have since been inspiration to many other venerable eyewear outfitters. If you see any modern pair of sunglasses with a “bug eyed” circular appearance and/or an angular “keyhole” nose bridge, then it has the 714 & 649 signature blueprint written all over it. The 714 also is known for its trademark collapsible engineering that allows it to be doubly-folded internally for portable use, say in your pants instead of your chest pocket like with your other regular single-folded frames. Countless other modern generations of the Hollywood Elite have been seen sporting the wide-eyed portfolios that Persol is so known for, and that all started with the 714, as in direct contemporary homage of our Patron Saint; with Efron, Brown, and Gosling, among others.
To celebrate Saint McQueen’s famously attached name to the Persol brand (as he is to other 1960s/Mod-era imagery: turtlenecks with sportcoats, suede desert boots, and so on), the house that gave us the Supreme Silver Arrow introduced a few years ago a special edition offering of its popular mainstay 714. The limited quantity series designates itself with the “SM” label, that obviously alludes to the holy man’s namesake, and comes in special pairings that differ from the standard produced 714 line. Namely, the unique features include an extra Supreme Silver Arrow on the midlength of each temple that makes up the internal folding hinge. This is the most noticeable identification of the special edition, as you’d see not one but two Supreme Silver Arrow logos on the sunglasses’ side profile, while the normal 714 only has a small unassuming metal hinge for the folding mechanism. The SM folds its arms horizontally inward while the normal 714 goes downward, and lastly, the SM comes with special edition packaging and a light grain leather carrier pouch with “Steve McQueen” imprinted on it.
Additionally, the SM version was made in exclusive color trims that are not available for the standard series, with the most quintessentially recognized being the Havana Tortoise Shell with Blue Tint lenses. Affectionately called the “Honey” trim by groupthink sourced from our fellow community of online menswear enthusiasts, this specific trim represents what I believe is the single most prized item in the entire Persol collection. If Persol is the most supreme name in eyewear, and if the 714 is the most supreme design in eyewear history as worn by the Patron Saint of Cool Himself, and if the 714SM is the supreme special collection that was limited produced in His Honor, and the Honey is the most supreme trim of them all; then the Honey is the supreme trim of the supreme collection of the supreme design of the Supreme Silver Arrow that is the supreme name in the whole of eyewear spectrum.
And this was the supreme pair of sunglasses I began my Hunt for.
Say it again – impossibly cool. Notice the double Supreme Arrows on the temple that I had spoke of. The 714SM is as close as an authentic reproduction to Steve’s own pair from five decades ago.
What makes the Hunt so nearly impossible to beat, hence rising the stakes and eventual winnings, are the parlay stipulations that go into the joys of the game. See, I can just as easily buy the 714SM for retail price and be done with it. But that isn’t the point, right? That would be a hypocrisy of Rule #10, as well as a major blow to my personable budget. No no no! I had to win in a honorable way that I could be proud of, making the taste of winning that much sweeter. Therefore, I officiated my rules for the championship match:
1) MSRP for a store purchased pair of the 714SM is $400. I will find my new or slightly used pair at less than $300. Granted, this is still a lot of dough for my own strict budget, but $300 is the ceiling dollar amount I was willing to spend for such an exclusive item that the 714SM is. Plus, I know that unlike a few other articles in my wardrobe, these sunglasses were built to last in both timeless design and quality. Truly is one of those privileges items that you can wear fifty years from now and still look good, as we have already seen proven by the 714.
2) The supreme Honey is my only choice. No other trim will satisfy the craving.
3) The 714 comes in size 52 and 54. My initial coordinated research lead me to the deduction that the 52 was the best size for most heads, as apparently the 54 was portrayed as too large by groupthink in longer width and consequently taller height. This made the Hunt even tougher, since the 52 was made in less quantity than the more readily available 54. Still, I kept to my guns and focused on finding the supreme 52.
4) The SM series came out around circa 2010, with only a few reissues since then (mostly in size 54). The original Honey came without polarized lenses while subsequent updates did. I wanted the updated version.
I went out on my epic journey with these four unrelenting boundaries in mind. My departing Bon Voyage was almost two years ago, with the bow set on finding the rarest Whale of them all.
Moby Dick and I encountered much rough seas and near-catches. There was the occasion early on, when I thought I caught my White Whale on an eBay listing set at under $300, but it turned out the final bidding had reached just over $350 at the last few minutes. There was the time that I found a member on the StyleForum exchange selling his 714SM at a great deal, but unfortunately turned out to be the Dark Brown trim and not the Honey Havana I desperately wanted. On and on it went like this. There were periods that I gave up, only to restart once again my weekly search on eBay and Craigslist and my favorite clothing forums. On multiple occasions did I find almost everything that fit my criteria, with usually just the size 52 requirement being the regretfully lone absentee. Frustration came and went. Outbidded here. Unrecovered there. Would this White Whale ever come within my sights? Will I ever get the satisfaction of defeating my adversary, or will I be swallowed up by my own maniacal cause, just as Moby had?
Flash forward to three weeks ago. I made a bid on my coveted Honey on eBay. $290 in a slightly-used quality. Only to end at $350 by a fury of eBay sniping at the last moments. Crushed yet again.
But then a week later, I happen to wake up at the crack of dawn to start the work day. This was unusually early for my weekday habits. There I was, sipping on my daily cup of steamy joe and watching the morning news, when I decided to check my eBay App on my iPhone on a haphazard whim with no particular heading in mind. By now, my 714SM search was my top-listed “Starred Favorite” (amongst other presently ongoing Hunts) that automatically checks for the latest listings I had not seen yet, which *protip* is a rather helpful setting on the App. Again, this was quite unusual for me to do this time of day, as I am barely awake to groggily type anything into my tiny sized phone-computer-camera-source-of-life. But perhaps it was a blessing sent down from the Sartorial Heavens by the Patron Saint of Cool Himself, as there it was at the top of the query results! “Buy It Now” for the steal of $275.
Wait, can it be? Check the criteria. 714SM, and not the regular series nor the 649, as many eBay selling tricksters try to put off as? Yup. Havana Honey? Yes. Size 52? Holy crap, affirmative! Quality? Brand new…seriously? Wait, not a fake? From a reputable powerseller which thousands of reviews and a return policy. Could it be? It took me all but two minutes to triple check the details and pull the trigger. Enter Paypal code. Confirmed. Will ship within two days.YESSS! Two years of searching for two days of highly anticipated delivery for two seconds of pure tradgasssmm.
2 miracles to become a Saint. 3 miracles to become The Patron Saint of Cool. “Buy it Now” was my first saving grace. If it were set to “Bidding” then I would have undoubtedly been outbid to over the $300 ceiling, just as I had a week prior. The second miracle I figured was that the seller had made the listing just moments before I checked my smartphone that early morning, as I knew for a fact it was not prior listed from a search that I ran that exact last night, and this listing would have been probably sold to someone else by lunchtime. Afterall, I knew the rarity of this trim and size coupled with that kind of bargain would go by all too quickly. There were already 3 watchers on that listing. Sucka’zz! Waited too long! And my last miracle was that the seller and I were in the EST time zone, meaning that only a few of us lucky CONUS Americans living on the East Coast were up at the crack of dawn to see that posting. My Central, Mountain, and Pacific competitors were still sound asleep.
I thanked Patron McQueen and prayed 10 Hail Prince of Wales affirmations for my gratitude. The Hunt was done after nearly two years of sweat and tears. My sunglasses collection is now complete for all intents and purposes, since I really don’t need anything else. My American Optical Original Pilots are my cheap but durable daily drivers. The Persol 2803 is my sleek sophisticated pair. Those free Ray Ban aviators that I luckily found on the beach are sitting at the back of my closet for that once-a-year opportunity I actually care to wear them. My Bolle sport shades are in my glove compartment for my afternoon runs.
Finally now, the holy grail trim of the Persol 714SM in Havana finishes out my stable of pure bred champion racers. As my most fashionably forward pair, the 714SM is the peacock of the hardy bunch. I can see these complimenting any occasion. Spring picnic at Central Park in a green gingham and tan wingtips. Summer vacation to the French Riviera in a white linen suit. Lounging in an Aspen ski cabin in a tweed overcoat and burnt orange corduroys. Perhaps this upcoming autumn, in the spirit of Mr. McQueen, I will take a drive through the Appalachians in a black turtleneck and plaid prince of wales sportcoat, with the brown Havana frame mirroring the earthy tones of foliage. These 714s are my flagship in my personal eyewear collection, just as it is the flagship paradigm that captures all of the ideals that beset the extraordinary ethos of the Supreme Silver Arrow.
If you can’t wait for two years like I did on eBay, then you can buy the Havana 714SM at only a few select approved retailers. For the 2014 S/S Season, Persol came out with a small reissued batch, with the two below presently selling them as of this posting date.
As taken from my IG.
SunglassHut. $400. Only currently offered in size 54.
Mr. Porter. $400. Both 52 and 54 are currently available. Better hurry though, since Mr. Porter typically features merchandise in sampled showcase with only a limited quantity.
*Protip: If you do buy from a third party then remember to look for the identifying details that separate the SM from the standard 714 series that I described earlier.