|Actor Sam Bernard in costume. 1909. Source|
Contrary to appearances, monocles are evidently perfectly comfortable to wear and are handy as a reading glass that can be tucked discreetly into a pocket when not in use. When they first appeared in the early half of the 19th century, they were a simple affair - an unpretentious circle of metal-rimmed glass which slotted into the eye orbit. The second wave of monocles in the late 1800s however, were more elaborate and featured a gallery, which was a kind of of wire extension on the underside of the rim, designed to increase comfort and prevent the eyelashes from getting in the way of the glass.
|Early 20th century gold-rimmed monocle, featuring a gallery beneath the lens, for added eye comfort. Source|
|Barry Humphries & monocle. Circa 1970s. Source|
Even after they disappeared from vogue as the 20th century progressed, the monocle continued to have its enthusiasts. Entertainer Barry Humphries sported one for years, as did the King of Tonga and astronomer Patrick Moore. While the iconic image of the monocled man is a gent in top hat and pinstripe trousers, there's no reason why monocles can't be worn casually, with any kind of gentleman's outfit - they look particularly fetching with a jaunty hat and amused expression. George Arliss managed to wear one with great aplomb.
|Actor and Playwright George Arliss. Source|
Of course monocles were never exclusively the province of men, as occasionally women wore them too but as a sartorial statement, they rarely feature on the female face, perhaps because, while fine for the bohemian intellectual look, its hard to be a sexy siren with a chunk of glass scrunching up one eye.
So, can a man be sexy in a monocle...? Weirdly, yes he can, though probably not if he's also wearing a handlebar moustache - that's just too much clutter for one face.