The Right Glasses for Your Face

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Kris Connor / Getty Images

If you're still sporting those bright, chunky frames that have been so hip these past few years, it could be time to rethink your eyewear approach. "Right now, men are leaning towards metal materials and undersized shapes," Neil Blumenthal, cofounder of Warby Parker, says. "We've also seen a keen appetite for frames with mixed material construction — say, a tortoise acetate brow with titanium rims." Perfecting your look takes a little know-how. Things to consider: Your face shape, for one. Also, your hairstyle. And finally, your personality and the statement you're trying to make. Suave? Intellectual? Urban hipster? Mountain climber? Putting the pieces together is not as simple as you thought.  

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First: Your Face
Is your head more oval, round, square, or heart-shaped? If you can't decide, trace an outline in the steam on your bathroom mirror after a shower to get a perspective. Whatever your shape, as a general rule, "you're going for juxtaposition," Blumenthal says. "Pick a frame that opposes your face shape to balance things out." In other words, narrow silhouettes or rectangles work well for rounder faces or heart-shaped ones, while rounder frames complement an oval-shaped face. Note, however, that this is just a guideline. "Your face shape should be a consideration but not the deciding factor," Blumenthal says. If you have a round face and fall in love with the perfect pair of round specs, it's okay to go rogue, rules be damned. "What's most important is always going to be whether or not you like the look."

Next: Your Hair
Most experts agree you should play up either your hair or your glasses, not both. Outrageous hair plus look-at-me frames equals competing style statements that cancel each other out. Instead, choose one focal point: Loud glasses, quiet hair. Simple specs? Feel free to go a little crazy. Other rules: With wider frames, trim your sideburns and shave hair close to the side of your head so as not to over-accentuate the width of your noggin (we know, lots of important stuff jammed in there, but still). And if you're wearing vintage glasses, hair should follow suit — practice a side part and light hold gel or wax for that tribute to Mad Men.

When it comes to your beard, "don't get all cute with big frames," Michael O'Malley, a Boston barber, warns. "You didn't go through all the trouble of growing the beard just to have someone tell you they like your glasses." Simple wire frames, or ones with a black or dark brown browline and clear lower frame, let your beard remain the centerpiece you intend it to be. One exception: "If you have a chin beard, or more stubble than full-on beard, that's a case of the hair accenting the glasses," O'Malley says, "so bigger frames work better."

Finally: Your Attitude
True, your personality isn't dependent on the plastic on your face, but if you are trying to craft a certain image, get a head start by choosing frames that speak for you. Bright colors, while worn less frequently than in the past, are still some of the best ways to signal creative and daring. "There are no rules about wearing color, but it's an attention-getter, so anyone with a job involving subterfuge, like a detective or spy, should steer clear," Blumenthal jokes.

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On the other hand, neutral frames don't have to be boring. "Tortoise frames are a perennial favorite," Warby co-founder Dave Gilboa says. "That particular palette of caramel, bourbon and walnut looks universally flattering against the skin." Can't decide on a color or hue? How about… clear? The no-frame look is trendy this season, and its versatility is a big selling point. "Our Haskell frame in Crystal is a favorite right now," Gilboa confirms. "Translucent material begs a second look, but it also goes with everything. It's a win-win."

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