Handbags have been taking a beating lately. After years of maintaining a reputation as the ultimate luxury accessory (as indicated by its typically extra-huge size and price tag), tastemakers are now busy arguing over which accessory has already replaced the handbag as the It status indicator. In the spring it was all about the It Shoe, with designers like Dries Van Noten (at Halo Shoes, 1425 NE Broadway) and Prada (at Mario's, 833 SW Broadway) pushing artfully floral designs in full embrace of the season's blooms. More recently, the New York Times ran a story on the cover of its style section that revised its stance on what's It: Turns out sunglasses are now the ultimate label-conscious must have. Conveniently, these Its keep finding their way into less expensive item categories. (Don't get me wrong, designer sunglasses can still fetch a pretty penny, but they are in general much less of a financial plunge than the shoes, not to mention the handbags, of top-tier designers.) If things get worse with the economy, next thing you know it will be all about It Key Chains.
In the meantime, no kidding! Those of us on the resourceful end of the budget spectrum have long been beneficiaries of the knack that designer sunglasses seem to have for getting lost and winding up at the thrift store before coming to rest in our grubby little plebian hands. Still, one does aspire to the day when they can experience that new shades smell, or even possess a case for them! If you feel you are ready to take such a plunge, this weekend marks an appropriate opportunity: The Eye Studio (339 NW 9th) is hosting a trunk show in honor of the latest styles from its top-selling Oliver Peoples collection, including the Paul Smith range.

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If it's an It you're after, the current season of these lines is a good choice. Popular with celebrities (of course), the collection features lots of retro and oversized shapes, updated to avoid excessive nostalgia. Eye Studio Optician Jaron Smith names the Oliver Peoples Harlot as a favorite, and I must concur with his sense of drama. The large 70s-style frame is attention demanding and comes in a number of luscious colorways, my favorite being a creamy pearl with gold and rose-tinted lenses. So, so sassy. Stop by for pro advice on what shapes work best for you (there are over 1,000 options!), door prizes that include a free pair(!!!!), plus hors d'oeuvres and drinks to lubricate the process. Be sure to visit the-eyestudio.com/news.htm for a coupon to boot. Print out the page for $50 off a complete pair of prescription eyeglasses or $30 off any pair of sunglasses. Just please don't sit on them. (The Eye Studio, 339 NW 9th, Sat July 19, 11 am-4 pm)

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