80 Year Old Rita Has Over 70 Pairs of Outrageous Glasses

Ballard lady

I met 81 year old Rita on a trip to Seattle over the weekend. She walked into the Great Harvest Bakery in Ballard wearing the most interesting pair of alien-eyed sunglasses. I was very intrigued and need to know more about her. I waited until she was finished purchasing her loaves and then asked if I could take her photo for my style blog, based in New York City. She was delighted and told me, “I have over 70 pairs of glasses and I wear a different pair everyday. Meet me here tomorrow and I will bring a whole bag full.” I knew that I couldn’t miss out on this opportunity!

The next day I met Rita outside the bakery wearing an even more spectacular pair of multicolored sunglasses. She showed me a grocery bag full of glasses that I could choose to photograph her in. We had a great time talking and taking photos and she told me the story of why she wears such outrageous glasses.

Rita says that her tastes are usually pretty simple. She had lost her small vintage sunglasses somewhere in the neighborhood, so her friend Marty accompanied her to a local mall to buy another pair. Marty picked out a big, fun, over-sized pair of sunglasses for Rita to wear and she picked out a smaller, more simple pair. Rita decided to purchase them both and wore the big pair to a recovery meeting sometime that week. Everyone in the group went wild for Rita’s big shades. People started sending her huge, outrageous pairs of sunglasses from all over the world, resulting in her collection of over 70 pairs. Rita told me that although she wouldn’t normally dress outrageously, she feels that the sunglasses make me people happy. When I asked her how she felt about them she replied, ” They aren’t really my style, but now I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not wearing the pair they bought for me. Now I feel lost without them. They have become my trademark.”

I loved meeting this wonderfully eccentric and charming woman and hope you enjoy her story and of course her amazing collecting of glasses.

  • love her sunglasses…love why she wears them!

    • How does a girl begin her own collection?

  • This made me smile, great fun post 🙂

  • Oh my goodness! I live in the Ballard neighborhood and have never noticed her… Now I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for her because I would love to talk with her and compliment her on her great style. Thanks for this post, Ari!

  • Great post! I love Rita's style. It's been a while since I visited the blog and I have to say that I think you've gone a little overboard with the advertising. I understand about monetizing a blog but so many ads are really distracting.

  • Great post -really "eye-catching!"

  • Your blog is just wonderful. The sunglasses post–you must be having so much fun meeting these grand old ladies and memorializing them with your photos. Keep snapping!

  • What a wonderful collection and what an even more wonderful lady! She made me feel happy today 🙂

  • great, I like it!

  • She's adorable!!!
    I have 12 pairs of glasses & im 22 so…
    Thank you!

  • andrea

    She is incredible! I hope I am like her when I am that age!

  • What a delightful story and woman. Also, how wonderful is her signature way of painting her lips? LOVE IT!

  • I love, love her fun in life..
    Brilliant post as ever, my dear Ari.

  • Anonymous

    This blog is so inspiring. I'm 22, and it's given me a new outlook on growing older and holding on to my appreciation for fashion. Keep it up!

  • she is magnificent!

  • Anonymous

    Rita is a Treasure to Seattle ! I love this Woman… She is the real deal a friend and inspiration to me and many others!!!

  • Rita is very eccentric and interesting, I love it! She is a beautiful woman!

    Thank you so much for showing such great images of such gorgeous and inspirational ladies. Looking through your blogs and the ladies' styles always puts a smile on my face especially when most street style photos are of younger women.

  • Wow! I live in Seattle and I've never seen Rita. I'll look for her next time I'm in Ballard. I love the sunglasses and her wonderful smile. We don't need sunglasses to often around here but when we do, Rita's got it made!

  • Rita has made a significant difference in my life and she always makes me smile with her FABULOUS style!

  • Rita is an amazing woman that has made a significant impact in my life and the lives of many others in the Seattle area. Her style, wit, and warm heart are a true gift to those who know and love her.

  • What a great story and woman! And what a magnificent way she paints her lips. LOVE IT!

  • HOW COOL! That was a great post and brightened my day. :), Susan Cooper @ http://www.findingourwaynow.com

  • My friend Rita, who has likely never even touched a computer in her life, and who we had to Beg to get an answering machine a few years back is suddenly burning up my Facebook with everyone I know posting about "Rita's Blog". This made my day, and hers too I am sure! Thanks New York!

  • This is why I love this blog!

  • Wonderful! Would it be okay for you if I borrow a picture when I ever link to your blog? Have a great weekend. Malin

  • I have been following your posts for some time; your journey and the remarkable women you meet, like Rita, is why I continue. I was so happy to see you and your "regulars" on the Morning Show. I am approaching 50 and love clothes and textures and accessories, in my own funcky way. I am ever so delighted to see that there are other women who believe that we can continue to be more of ourselves as the years come. Peace. Brianne

  • This is fantastic! I can't stop watching that image. Such a great collection and such a great woman!

  • Anonymous

    Rita is our plain speaking goddess. We love her.

  • I do love her sunglasses and yes that is her trademark. Great post Ari. She is a lovely lady.

  • Love this piece! Isn't it fascinating how our personal styles can be out of our control? By chance, Rita began wearing these zany shades, even though she didn't feel at home in them. Now, they're her trademark. Awesome.

    Peter @ low–couture.blogspot.com

  • A big Hello from the UK!

    I stumbled upon your blog and it has for sure put a smile on my face!

    Keep it up buddy,


  • I love this woman and want to thank her for sharing all her wonderful shades! I also love her bow lips!! Showcasing her collection in this slideshow is perfect. A wonderful vignette.

  • Such a great post. I am mesmerized by the first image with the changing glasses. Thanks for introducing us to Rita.

  • Fantastic!You can never have too many sunglasses!

  • superb!

  • Here in Seattle?! I'll have to keep an eye out for her around town 🙂

    Cable Car Couture

  • I have just came across your blog. What an inspiring and stylish find. I just have to showcase a little on my blog to share. I look forward to reading often. V xo

    If interested my blog is http://www.shoppegirls.blogspot.com.au/

    seriously, perfect style, i love her!


  • This is SOOOO great.. the little animation is a RIOT…like a flip book. Great piece, Ari

  • Sarah

    I know Ms. Rita, she is a hoot & also someone with a wealth of information. It is true, she does in fact wear these various, crazy glasses every day… they certainly ARE her trademark!

  • Haha, brilliant 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Rita has touched so many lives! Before I even came to the Seattle Great Harvest I'd heard of her awesome eccentricities from a former employee there. She's a delight every time, and I love getting to catch up with her when she's in the shop.

  • lovely rita just inspired me to buy some crazy glasses too: kiss lips glasses like she owns too. wonder if i will still have them when i am 80…. she is adorable!

  • amazing! I want them all!

  • Amazing woman. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. I want to be like her when I grow up (or if I ever do). Thanks for introducing her to us. Nita

  • I have lived in Ballard for 12 years i NEED to go find her! Amazing wonderful story!


  • She is so sweet to wear the glasses that everyone has sent her! I like her style, cool blog ^_^


  • nice to hear that she like to wear multicolored sunglasses at the age of 81. nice post