Shopping for eyewear can feel a little formulaic: You stare at a mirror long enough to figure out your face shape, then find a style that best complements your features — whether it be circular lenses for your square face or angular lenses for a round one. Then, you proceed to wear the same frame every day. Simple. However, the rules of optical
don't necessarily translate to sunglasses, as far as face shape is concerned. While the general guidelines are the same, they're much more flexible — and, primed to be broken.
Firstly, there's just a lot
more out there. The market is saturated with frames that tow the line between round and square, rectangular and oval, cat-eyes and tear-drop. So, while "the rules" say a round face can't wear a round frame, odds are you can find one out there that complements your curvier facial features just as well as the next angular frame. Second, with sunglasses, you can take advantage of dark lenses, which — on top of shielding your eyes from UV rays — help mask certain subtleties of your facial anatomy that can exaggerate your shape. Lastly, while they offer a lot of useful protection, sunglasses are an accessory. The takeaway here is: Have fun with it.
We tapped experts from three of our eyewear go-to's to navigate the tricky, rule-bending waters of sunglasses: Warby Parker, MOSCOT, and Sunglass Hut. Using face shapes as a jumping-off point, we explore all the biggest trends in eyewear, and get tips straight from the source on how to make any
frame work. So, while this guide is grouped according to shape, feel free to shop other categories. The rules are by no means set in stone. To start things off, here are three tips that apply to anyone in the market for some new sunnies: How To:
Figure Out The Whole Face Shape Thing
Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, boils down the face-shape formula to a simple rule you should write down on a piece of paper, tape on the mirror, and read to yourself as you take advantage of at-home try-ons: "Generally, the frames that fit the best match up horizontally with your temples, sit below your eyebrows (except in the instance of sunglasses — there are exceptions) and rest comfortably on the bridge of your nose." Consider this our eyewear shopping mantra. How To
: Know If A Frame Really
When you're trying on a pair of shades — because, truly, putting it on your face is an essential part of the process — there are two things you should do. First, "shake your head like you’re saying no," says Kristen McCabe, vice president of product at Sunglass Hut. "If it slides down your nose at all, you either need to adjust the nose pads...or you have to try a different pair of shades because it’s just not fit for your face." Once you pass this test, give us a grin. No, seriously: Smile wide, and if the bottom of the sunglasses touches your cheek, you may want to pick a different style, or risk some awkward frame-marks. How To:
Better Know Your Lenses
Dr. Harvey Moscot — an optometrist by trade and fourth generation of the Moscot family — broke down everything you'd ever want to know about lenses. "Most plastic lenses have UV coating inherent in the lens," he explains. "You get about 95% protection just by wearing a plastic lens over your face." Lenses can also have anti-glare coating on the back of the lens to filter out even more light. But, the big thing people look for is polarization: What it is, is "a sheet in between two wafers of plastic," which blocks horizontal light from coming into your eye. That's the light that's reflected off horizontal surfaces, like the hood of a car or the surface of the water, Dr. Moscot continues. Once that light is cut out of the equation, there's a huge reduction in glare, which means overall improved visibility.
Did you get all that? For a more in-depth look at face shapes, as well as more tips from our experts and the best sunglasses for every personality, check out our breakdown, ahead.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit