So far I've ordered three pairs--two from Goggles4u and one from 39dollarglasses.com. (They haven't arrived yet.) I haven't yet bought anything from Zenni, because I've heard bad things about their service, but they have a good "try on glasses" face photo thingy so I've been spending a lot of time there. Although now I am sick of looking at my own face.
The thing is, if you know what you're doing, it turns out you can get a pretty accurate idea of whether or not a pair of glasses will look good on you. You need to know your prescription, of course. Then you need five different measurements for the frames themselves, three of which you can often get just by reading the numbers on the right temple-arm of your current pair of glasses, or you can estimate all five by using a metric ruler on your current pair. The measurements are: total width of glasses, lens width, lens height, bridge distance, and temple length. Which of these are most important will vary with your glasses-style preferences. The three numbers on the arm of your glasses are usually [lens width - bridge distance - temple length]. For example, mine are 46-18-135, in millimeters.
You also need to know your PD (Pupillary Distance--the distance from one pupil to the other), which I was apprehensive about because it wasn't listed on my prescription, but then I found this tool that measures it for you if you have a webcam and a credit card. (For size comparison, not for paying them money.) I measured mine that way and the number was almost exactly what I got when measuring it by holding a ruler under my eyes and looking in a mirror, so I'm pretty confident about it.
Once you have all those measurements written down, just look for frames with similar ones and you can be reasonably confident that they'll work for you. A lot of sites let you upload your own photo and virtually try on glasses, so you can get an even better idea of how they'll look. (If you think about it, buying shoes online is way less accurate in terms of fit, and I've done that tons of times--and paid more for them.)
If anyone is interested I've written brief reviews of the major online glasses websites below the cut. I'll write more when I actually get the glasses in the mail. (OMG I can't wait until I can SEE again.)
Goggles4u (silly name) has a huge selection, ranging from super-cheap to designer-expensive. A lot of their stuff is "fashion-y," with shapes and colors outside the (boring) norm, which I love. They also have the dimensions clearly visible in the search results, which is great. Their search feature leaves something to be desired, but if you're the type who doesn't mind wading through several pages of results it's fine. However, their "upload your own photo and try these on" feature doesn't work very well. I uploaded a photo, but all of the glasses look HUGE on me and there doesn't seem to be a way to adjust the sizing or even tell the site where your eyes are exactly. It doesn't seem at all accurate.
Zenni, on the other hand, lets you specify your PD, plus there's an option to manually select your pupils in the photo. I tried it and I actually feel like I'm getting a good idea of how the glasses would look on my face. However, I'm wary about ordering from them because I've heard their customer service is nonexistent, and their selection of smaller glasses is limited. They are dirt-cheap, though, with prices ranging from $6 to $46.
(I have to mention that Goggles4u is having a FREE frames event right now, plus $10 off lenses. You can't beat that, especially since their lenses start at $17 WITH COATINGS INCLUDED. Their free frames aren't from big-name designers, but there are a TON of them and a lot of them are super cute. I ordered two and it came to less than $60, and that's WITH shipping. The last time I got two pairs of glasses it was like five hundred dollars! Screw you Stein Optical.)
EyeBuyDirect has some cute cheap frames, but very little in the 46-47mm lens width range. The glasses I wear most often right now are Jones New York Petites, which is a line specifically for the small-faced adult, which I suppose is me. They're 46mm wide, and my other pair I'm pretty sure is 47 (the number on the side has mostly rubbed off). Anyway, I'm worried anything over 48 would look too wide on me and make me look cross-eyed, as I remember this being a problem the last time I tried on glasses in an actual store. So sadly I will be using other online stores for the time being.
39dollarglasses has a couple of annoying non-features--you can't add to a wishlist and you can't upload your own photo, plus the measurements are only visible after you click through to each individual frame's page. But they have reviews, and their frames are cute enough that they were the first site I ordered from. They do have a variety of models for you to "try on" the glasses, sorted by face shape. Problem is I'm not sure what my "face shape" is. Amorphous blob? Sort of a rough oval-ish thing? Mr. Potato Head?
I also read that they don't have very good customer service, but I read this AFTER I had already ordered my first pair, so we'll see. Hopefully they'll arrive soon and everything will be OK. And if not, I'm not out too much money.
GlassesUSA is having a 50% off frames sale right now. However, they have a limited selection, their wishlist feature is buggy, and it seems you have to re-upload your photo every time you want to "try on" virtually. Their prices for coatings are way too high (compared to the cheaper glasses sites). Overall I'm not impressed.
Coastal Contacts (not just for contacts) specializes in designer brands and so is more expensive than the dirt-cheap glasses sites, but it looks promising. They have a great feature called "find your perfect fit." Just enter the dimensions of your current glasses and it finds you ones that fit the same or similarly. They even suggested the exact pair of glasses I'm wearing right now, only in a different color! Ha. They generally have a nice selection of smaller glasses for petite-faced people like me.
I also really like their try-on photo tool, since it lets you find your own pupils and enter your PD, like Zenni does. I've had some issues with things not loading on the site, though. They don't have a wishlist feature, which seems like a major oversight. And they try to push thinner lenses on you at checkout, plus they overcharge for coatings and mysterious "handling fees." However, they are having a few good sales right now, and they have a "first pair free" (not including lens "upgrades" and coatings, of course) offer that I might try. I also hear their customer service is excellent.
One caveat is that my prescription is fairly simple. I only need distance-vision lenses, not bifocals or progressives or whatever it is people with astigmatism need. I don't know if I'd buy online if I had a complicated prescription, since there's more room for error and no way to try the glasses on first.
Anyway, I will check back and maybe post pictures when my glasses actually arrive, and let y'all know what I think. I've spent an average of about $40 per pair so far, so I figure even if only one of the three pairs works for me, I'm still saving a whole lot of money over going to LensCrafters or VisionWorks or wherever. I'm excited that I can now be both poor AND able to see!