When it comes to picking cool sunglasses, there are two ways you can go. You can opt for the classics – models like Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer that have been shielding retinas since your grandfather’s day — or you can look at what’s trending in terms of shapes, colours and eras. Either way, it’s important to be able to sort the blinders from the blindingly ugly.
Get it right, though, and you’ll be gifted a face-based upgrade like no other: a seemingly simple piece of moulded plastic or metal capable of blocking harmful UV rays, preventing crow’s feet and instantly erasing hangover face, all while giving 100 per cent extra added swag.
With that in mind, here are the six styles trending hard, and the essential tips from leading brands to ensure you eye up the right ones for your face shape.
How To Pick A Sunglasses Style
Before delving into this season’s slickest shades, you’ll need a grasp of which frames your mug will show off well. For this, we tapped the expert knowledge of Bhavisha Parmar from eyewear retailer Sunglass Hut who knows everything worth knowing about matching your sunglasses to what mother nature gave you.
Sunglasses For A Round Face
“The key features of a circular face are similar length and width, soft features and a rounded jaw-line. Angular sunglasses will add definition to this face shape, while deep colours will minimise fullness and gradient lenses will help to elongate the face. Tortoiseshell and warm caramels are good colours. Thicker frames with wide temples also suit round faces because they add width, but this face shape should always stay clear of round sunglasses.”
Sunglasses For A Heart-Shaped Face
“Heart-shaped faces have a broad forehead and cheekbones with a tapered chin. To counteract this, look for thin, light metal or clear plastic sunglasses that have broader bottom halves such as angular or aviator shapes to balance the width of the chin. Avoid dark colours like black, as they tend to cut up the line of the face.”
Sunglasses For An Oval-Shaped Face
“Though an oval face shape is well balanced overall, it’s longer than it is wide which should be kept in mind. Slightly square, teardrop lenses look great on this type of face along with oversized lenses such as aviators. Avoid angular styles such as rectangular sunglasses though, as they may narrow the face.”
Sunglasses For A Square-Shaped Face
“The defining features of a square-shaped face are a strong jaw-line with an equally broad forehead. The aim here is to soften the defined lines: this can be achieved by selecting circular styles and teardrop-shaped lenses. Metal frames will make the face appear softer; black or single-colour frames are flattering too. Avoid square or rectangular shapes as they draw attention to the angles and may give the appearance of a shorter head.”
The Sunglasses Trends You Need To Know Right Now
It’s blindingly obvious that a large part of the reason round sunglasses worked so well on John Lennon was the fact that he was John Lennon, a style icon. Don’t let relative anonymity (and absolute lack of rock ’n’ roll credentials) put you off though, because these vintage sunglasses can also be carried off by mere mortals.
“Round sunglasses are a must for this season, with the best examples combining acetate arms and metal fronts,” says Marie Wilkinson, design director at Cutler and Gross. “Those with square- and diamond-shaped faces would best suit these frames, as circular designs work best on those with natural angles.”
If your head is lacking lines, these sunnies aren’t entirely off limits. Round lenses that have a horizontal brow-bar offer a less unforgiving way to go round in circles this season.
Guys with round profiles who thought they’d drawn the short straw in the face shape lottery can take solace in that fact that this year’s geometric sunglasses are practically designed specifically for them. Alongside an ability to add structure to orbicular bonces, these overtly angular shades are far from standard-issue, so there’s little chance of seeing every other Tom, Dick and Harry wearing them when the sun’s out.
“Geometric-shape shades – whether they are square or hexagonal – offer an easy way to differentiate yourself from the crowd,” says Reiss brand stylist Paul Higgins. “Because of their shape, subtlety is key, so be sure to choose thin frames and classic colours.”
You’ll need to keep the size of your geometric sunglasses in check: erring on the smaller side is always a safer bet unless looking like an Elton John impersonator is your ultimate aim.
As a rule of thumb when buying sunglasses, being consistently wearable should be one of your most important buying considerations. But, for those who have already got themselves a few pairs of well-behaved classics, colourful and even sports sunglasses can make for a welcome addition to your anti-UV arsenal.
“The colours of current styles are bright and popping, and the best examples use the same colour on the entire design,” says Lauren van der Kolk, head of product design at Ace & Tate. “With lenses tinted in the same colours as the frames, they’re perfect for seeing life in yellow, red and blue.”
Okay, colourful sunglasses may not be the kind of thing you want to throw on with a suit at a summer wedding, but if you’re wedded to simple shorts and T-shirts combinations, they offer an easy way to instantly level-up your look.
Aviator sunglasses aren’t so much a trend as a staple which waxes and wanes in popularity. One year they’re the toast of the town (think vintage Robert Redford), the next they’re an optical pariah worn exclusively at fancy dress parties in the spirit of Top Gun. Right now aviators are having one of their frequent moments in the sun.
“Popular for decades and known as the original pilot’s sunglasses, aviators are making a big comeback,” says Wilkinson. “This time, the main update is that they are predominantly made in acetate, with a single brow bridge for extra fashion nous.”
Key to avoiding the pitfall of rocking average aviators is seeking out plot twist design details. Look for gold frames, coloured lenses or patterned acetate designs to ensure you’re not accidentally twinning with your dad.
In a crushing blow to anyone who qualifies as millennial, the Britpop era is already back. Along with parka jackets and fringe haircuts, sunglasses are the latest instalment of the decade’s triumphant return to menswear. Often minuscule and invariably wacky, it goes without saying that the period that gave the world odious wraparounds should be approached with extreme caution.
“Men are harking back to the sunglasses designs of the early nineties, to the styles that people wore when luxury brands and London street style collided and were all worn together for the first time,” says Gordon Richie, managing director of Kirk Originals.
Nailing this look relies on being able to separate the sunnies to save from the ones that should never be resurrected. “Those looking to channel the best of the decade should seek out colourful lenses in orange and blue mixed with titanium frames which will riff on the era when Hunter S. Thompson was re-discovered by the new nineties generation. There are also some seriously cool oversized acetate styles that bring to mind Liam Gallagher’s iconic 1994 Glastonbury performance,” adds Richie.
Top Bar Sunglasses
Let’s get one thing out of the way: top bar sunglasses aren’t subtle or pared-back, they’re sunglasses designed to be seen. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially a bolder version of the very first aviator design, top (or ‘brow’) bar sunglasses have taken on a flight path of their own and now come in an array of guises, so it’s hard not to find a pair you like.
For those wary of going OTT with their eyewear, there’s good news because this season has ushered in a new crop of designs which take down the frame width for a look that’s more polarised than polarising. “Top bar sunglasses are still a wise choice, but chunky designs have given way to thinner profile designs, typically utilising metal rather than acetate,” says Higgins.
That’s not to say that acetate frames are complete no-nos: when combined with a thin metal top bar, acetate frames land bang in the middle of the sensible/statement-making divide.