Sunglasses are more than a quintessential fashion accessory. True, they can make your wardrobe more stylish and versatile, but they also provide essential protection for your eyes.
Sunglasses protect against harmful UV rays, dust, and heat. They make driving, walking, and sports safer by reducing glare.
With so many styles available, people often struggle to find the perfect pair of sunglasses. This guide will cover the different types of sunglasses, which styles will match your face shape, and things to consider when shopping for a new pair of shades.
Popular Types of Sunglasses
Today’s market features various sunglass styles to choose from. Use this section to browse the most popular types:
Wayfarer sunglasses were designed in the 1950s and have stood the test of time. Originally created by Ray-Ban, Wayfarers are now available from numerous brands.
They have thick frames, usually made from plastic. Wayfarers are similar to square-shaped frames, but the bottom is curved, forming an upside-down trapezoid.
Aviator sunglasses are another timeless style that’s been popular for decades. Created for military pilots in 1935, aviators have since crossed over into mainstream fashion.
The design features a teardrop shape and a metal frame. And, of course, the signature top bar along the browline.
Aviator frames have a large field of vision, providing superior protection. You typically see them with a metal frame (gold or silver), though they are also available in plastic.
Browline sunglasses get their name from the thick top frame that runs along your eyebrows. The extra thin (or absent) lower rims further accent the look.
Originally designed in the 1950s and ‘60s, these retro frames remain a popular choice for sunglasses and regular eyeglasses.
Square sunglasses come in a variety of sizes and styles. They’re usually not completely square but slightly rounded at the bottom.
These frames flatter many face shapes, especially round, oval, and oblong. They give a nice contrasting edge to softer features.
Round sunglasses are a popular choice for festival-goers, Beatles fans, and anyone looking to top their outfit with a distinguished vibe.
Available in thick or thin frames made of metal or plastic, round sunglasses are very versatile. Thin metal frames like those worn by John Lennon create a vintage look, while thick plastic styles offer a more modern flair.
Cat-eye sunglasses are a retro, feminine style that makes an eye-catching fashion statement. Their thick frames feature upswept angles at the top outer edges like the cat’s eye shape they’re named for.
Made famous by Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, cat-eye frames still make waves in the world of fashion. They're available in various colors and flattering for every face shape.
Rectangle sunglasses are like square frames, but they’re wider than they are tall. You’ll find many variations of this style in a wide range of materials and colors. From thin rectangles with angled edges to larger lenses with slightly rounded frames, they offer a classic yet versatile look.
Oval sunglasses are similar to the round style but slightly wider. They usually have thick plastic frames but can also be thin and metallic. The oblong shape is flattering for almost all face shapes, making oval sunglasses a fashion staple.
Wrap-around sunglasses are curved around the front of the face. The wrap-around style offers excellent protection from UV damage, making them popular with sports brands like Oakley.
Besides blocking ultraviolet light, wrap-around shades have one of the largest fields of vision. This makes them a great choice for athletes and outdoorsy people.
Sports eyewear often has specialized lenses and straps to hold your glasses in place. They offer superior eye protection from dust and other objects, as well as sunlight.
Wrap-around and rectangle frames are the most popular sports sunglasses. They usually hold lightweight, shatterproof polycarbonate lenses.
Oversized sunnies are another popular modern style. They’re typically square or oval-shaped with thick frames. Some frames will be multi-color or have additional details that create a unique retro and modern look.
Similar to browline frames, clubmasters have a thick frame on the top, with extra thin rims around the bottom of the frames. The lenses are round, almost circular, and sometimes there is a top bar across the browline, like aviators.
Clubmaster sunglasses always create a chic and funky fashion statement.
Similar to oversized and cat-eye shades, butterfly sunglasses have thick frames that are wide at the edges near your ears. They narrow down closer to the nose bridge, creating the butterfly shape they’re named after.
Geometric Style Sunglasses
Geometric sunglasses are unique and funky. They come in all different colors, shapes, sizes, and frame materials. Filled with sharp angles and unexpected features, these shades are sure to make a bold statement.
Flipper Shades Sunglasses
Flipper shades have two circular lenses for indoor and outdoor use. They have a steam-punk aesthetic and are meant for modern style.
Shield sunglasses offer the most protection with huge lenses that wrap around the front and side. If you’re thinking of the oversized, boxy sunglasses worn by seniors with degenerative eye disorders, fret not. These shades have come a long way.
They’re an excellent choice for long days in the sun or anytime you need extra protection from UV light.
Types of Sunglass Lenses
Now that we’ve covered frames, let’s talk about the different types of lenses you’ll find in sunglasses.
Polarized lenses block light that reflects off of flat surfaces. This greatly improves your vision around water, while driving, and in most outdoor situations.
However, polarized lenses make it harder to see certain LED lights like those on your phone screen or an ATM.
Anti-reflective coating reduces glare by preventing light from reflecting off the back surface of your lenses. An anti-reflective coating is helpful if you don’t want the sun to bounce off your lenses while you’re having your photo taken or talking to someone.
Mirror-coated lenses (also referred to as flash coatings) are highly reflective. They reduce the amount of light entering your eye, providing increased shade and comfort.
These are useful in extra bright conditions, such as skiing or fishing on sunny days.
Gradient lenses have a denser tint on the top of the lens and are less tinted at the bottom. These tinted lenses are ideal for driving. They protect your eyes from sunlight but let you see the road and your dashboard more clearly.
Double Gradient Lenses
Double gradient lenses are heavily tinted at the top and bottom but less tinted in the middle. This type of tinted lens gives you clear vision while protecting your eyes from overhead sunlight and light reflecting off of surfaces by your feet.
Photochromatic, or transition lenses, adjust their level of tint according to the amount of UV light that hits them. You often see these lenses in regular eyeglasses, so the wearer doesn’t have to have two pairs of glasses. They provide excellent UV protection.
You can fit nearly any type of sunglasses with lenses that match your eyeglasses prescription, including bifocal, trifocal, or progressive lenses.
Find the Right Sunglasses For Your Face shape
The best sunglasses will match and accentuate your face shape. Of course, this is only a guideline. The best way to find the right sunglasses is to try on several pairs and find the one that suits your face, style, and personality.
Round Shaped Face
Round faces are circular, with no sharp angles or edges. The cheekbones are the widest part of your face, like the diameter of a circle. Frames with sharp angles help to balance your features.
Some Ideal Frames:
Read More: Best Sunglasses for Round Faces
Square Shaped Face
Square faces have approximately the same width and length. They are characterized by a strong jawline and broad forehead. Round frames help round out your sharp features.
Some Ideal Frames:
Read More: Best Sunglasses for Square Faces
Heart Shaped Face
Heart-shaped faces have broad foreheads, high and wide cheekbones, and narrow chins. Frames with broad lower rims help balance features and elongate the face.
Some Ideal Frames:
Read More: Best Sunglasses for Heart Shaped Faces
Oval Shaped Face
Oval faces have balanced proportions, with your cheekbones wider than your forehead and jawline. Your face is longer than it is wide. Nearly all sunglasses styles will look good on an oval face.
Read More: Best Sunglasses for Oval Faces
Oblong/Rectangular Shaped Face
Oblong faces are longer than they are wide, similar to oval-shaped faces. The difference is in the cheek line. Rectangular faces have long, straight cheek lines. Thick, angular frames will help balance your rounded features.
Read More: Best Sunglasses for Oblong/Rectangular Faces
Diamond Shaped Face
Diamond faces have narrow foreheads and jawlines. The cheekbones are the widest part of the face. Choose frames that complement high cheekbones.
- Many types of sunglasses are available, and finding the right style for you is a matter of fit, function, and fashion.
- Things to consider before buying a new pair of sunglasses include the style of frames and type of lenses you want.
- Certain frame shapes are more flattering on some face shapes than others.
- It’s important to choose a pair of sunglasses that offer full UV protection.
- Other things to consider include whether you’ll be using your new sunglasses for sports, driving, or casual wear.
In this article
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.
Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.