Sorry to break it to you, but no matter how symmetrical your face is, not every pair of sunglasses is going to look great on your handsome mug. Even for famous guys like Kurt Cobain, Malcolm X, JFK, and John Lennon who managed to make eyewear history with their shades, finding a pair of signature glasses that work isn’t exactly a walk in the park. And that’s because to do it, you have to get to know your own face.
Because that can be harder than it sounds, we’ve enlisted the help of a few experts in the field. With their advice, a look in the mirror, and a few simple measurements we’ll have you set to invest in some new shades before your first trip to the beach this summer.
Determine Your Face Shape
The formula for finding the best pair of sunglasses for you hinges on one key principle: you want to complement the kind of face you have with an equal and opposite shape. “It’s all about balance, counterpoint and counterbalance,” said Ashley Bezamat, founder of the custom sunglasses purveyor Dom Vetro. “The shape of the frame and shape of the face kind of need to counteract each other in order to be harmonious.”
It’s a classic case of opposites attracting. If you have a very round face, go for glasses with strong angles or a square shape. And the opposite holds true, too. “If you have a wider chin, I try to avoid round shapes because I just think that makes you look rounder all around,” said stylist Jeanne Yang, whose superstar roster of clients include Alexander Skarsgard, Kumail Nanjiani, and Robert Downey, Jr. And if you’re blessed with the chiseled and angular jaw of a superhero like Thor or The Hulk you’ll look best in round shades. (We’ll get to a fool-proof formula for determining the shape down below.)
Find the Right Fit
Frame shape is important, but the size and fit of a pair of shades can also make or break how they look. Just like your suits, jeans, and sneakers, the better your sunglasses fit, the better they’ll look. (The right fit also makes it harder for them to slip off, even when a bead or two of sweat tries to separate them from your face.)
And it’s not just your eyes you have to consider. Most sunglasses cater to larger noses with a high bridge. But Yang, whose bridge is lower, said that, “As an Asian person, I have been really conscious that you definitely need to have nose pads or the sunglasses fall down your face.”
To get a near-custom fit without spending thousands of dollars, look for brands that offer a range of different sizes for each of their frames. “We’re really paying attention to different sizes for people and also how they’re fitting on the person’s nose,” Bezamat told us. “We offer custom bridges, because if you have a smaller nose and high cheekbones plus a low nose bridge, traditional glasses won’t fit.”
Protect Your Eyes
Sunglasses have two functions: looking cool and protecting your eyes from harsh sunlight. But not all lenses have the protective coating needed to block UV light. If you’re buying your shades from a guy on the street or off of an Instagram ad, they probably aren’t up to the task. “The problem with lenses that are not high quality it’s that they block visible light, and when you block visible light obviously your pupils dilate,” Bezamat said. “If it’s a really cheap lens and it’s not giving you proper sun protection, now there’s more UV light going into your eye because your pupils are dilated. A lot of people who buy, like, five dollar shades are actually potentially harming their eyes.”
The solution? Don’t be tempted to go cheap. Invest in polarized lenses and frames that’ll last. As an added benefit, you’ll be less lax about leaving them behind in your next Uber.
How to Measure Your Face:
To figure out which of the six main face shapes you have, you’ll need to measure the following 4 parts of your face. Once you have your numbers read on to see which of the six most closely matches your mug.
- Face height: From the center of your hairline to the center of your chin measure the overall length of your face.
- Forehead: Measure the widest part of your forehead from left to right.
- Cheekbones: Measure the distance from cheek to cheek starting just below the outer corner of each eye.
- Jawline: Lastly, measure the width of your jaw from just below one ear to just below your chin and double that number.