Buying sunglasses is a high-stakes decision. Like hats, they can make you look great by accenting and emphasizing the natural symmetry of your face or highlight your absolute worst traits. Finding the right pair matter because, for better or worse, shades are impossible to ignore.
"When you walk up to someone, you're looking right at their eyes so their eyewear is going to make an immediate statement," says David Rose, vice president of design and manufacturing at SALT. Optics in Costa Mesa, Calif. "Be sure it’s the statement you want to make."
Rose says the most common mistake people make when shopping for sunglasses is rushing it. With so many styles, cuts, and materials on the market today, he likens the experience to shopping for jeans. "It boils down to trying a lot of pairs on until you figure out what works," he says. "My advice is to step outside your comfort zone and have fun with it."
Picking the right pair is mostly a matter of fit and proportion. Egg-shaped frames can offset a pointy chin. Sunglasses with sharp, geometric angles give the elusion of definition to a round face. And frames without a brow bar (exactly what it sounds like) can downplay a wide forehead. And lenses have a role as well. A subtle gradient tint can make your face appear tapered toward a strong chin.
Here's Rose's advice on picking the right frames for your face:
Oval: "This face shape looks good in just about anything," Rose says. Just be mindful of proportion. The right frames will still look goofy if they're too large or small for your head. Try Cutler and Gross's 0995 frames, a modern take on driving glasses with two different shades of tortoise shell and gradient lenses.
Oblong: Round or square frames can help offset the long, narrow line from forehead to chin. Note that the frames shouldn't extend past the widest part of your face. Costalots modified Diego Crevasse wayfarers are wide enough to draw attention up from the chin out to the ears, making long faces feel more angular.
Diamond: Accentuate high cheekbones by choosing deep frames that are more vertical than horizontal. Tom Ford's chunky Federico sunglasses, which have a hint of cat-eye, should fit most diamond shaped faces like a puzzle piece because they match the angles between the eyebrows and the nose. A word of caution: These large frames have the potential to look bug-like on a smaller face.
Round: No John Lennon shades here, please. This face shape is characterized by a narrow forehead and round jaw line, so smaller, angular frames will balance out the curves. "Sunglasses with a top bar or brow bar will have the effect of pulling the eye slightly upward, making the face appear longer," Rose says. Gold & Wood's B24 shades are masculine, modern, and military-inspired, with a strong dose of edge.
Square: It's hard to detract from a sharp jaw line, but square frames will do just that. Stick with larger frames in teardrop shapes like Dior Homme's Black Tie 172S Sunglasses, which are formal only in name and have just the right amount of curve.
Triangle: Also called a heart shape, this face narrows strongly at the chin. Steer clear of frames that sit high on the face and accentuate the broad brow line, Rose says. A thin rim and vertical droop will do wonders. Grey Ant's Hexcel Sunglasses are like the pilot aviators' outlaw cousin. Made of acetate and wire, they begin with a straight brow bar before dipping dramatically into low, edgy angles.
Everyone: Aviators, like these Techno Color Ultra-Light shades from Gucci, are practically guaranteed to flatter. "They're on-trend but timeless, and they look good on almost anyone," he says. "And they're a great investment. You can dress them up with a suit or down with board shorts and a tee-shirt."