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Ultimate Sunglasses Guide - Everything You Need To Know and More

Picture this: You’re on a road trip, your sunroof is open, and you’re wearing your favorite pair of sunglasses. When adventure calls, sunglasses are one of the first things you’ll reach for. The reason is simple: when you’re out seeing the sights, it’s important to be able to see what you’re looking at.

Beyond that, sunglasses are the ultimate free-spirited accessory… and customization is key, as with any accessory. Here’s our ultimate guide on everything you need to know so you can pick out a pair of sunnies tailored to your own style of adventure.

What Are Sunglasses?

This one’s pretty simple. Sunglasses are tinted eyeglasses that help dim light as it passes through the lens.

The main goal of wearing sunglasses is to increase visibility and protect your eyes from damage — however, not all sunglasses are created equal. There are different lens treatments, frame shapes, and general customization to think about. While you certainly can pick up a pair of generic sunglasses from your local department store, when it comes to sunglasses, you truly do get what you pay for.

What Are the Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses?

Aside from looking cool, sunglasses also have the very important job of protecting your eyes. You might not think your eyes are exposed to the elements, but they are. And, just like it’s important to protect our skin from potential stressors, it’s also important to protect our eyes.

Wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes against:

  • UV Damage: We’ll go more into this later, but UV rays can damage your eyes just as much as they damage your skin.
  • Eye Strain: If you’re squinting against bright light all day, your eyes can become strained.
  • Headaches: Looking into bright light and experiencing eye strain can cause headaches.
  • The Environment: Your eyes can also be affected by environmental factors like wind, rain, pollution, and debris.

You might already be used to wearing sunglasses in the summertime, but these benefits are good to have all year round. That means you should incorporate sunglasses into your fall, winter, and spring wardrobes, too.

What Should You Look For in Sunglasses?

One of the most important aspects of a pair of sunglasses is the lenses. You can have drastically different experiences depending on how the lenses have been treated and what features they have — or don’t have, for that matter. Here’s what to look for when you’re searching for sunnies.

Polarization

If you like to spend your time outdoors, you’ll probably want a pair of polarized sunglasses. These sunglasses are designed to help reduce the glare you see off reflective surfaces like water, snow, cars, and pavement. The less glare in your visual field, the more you’ll be able to see the world around you.

These lenses work by blocking horizontal light waves. When light is reflected off a flat surface, it splits into vertical and horizontal waves, resulting in glare. By reducing glare, polarized lenses can help colors and details look more crisp, as well as protect your eyes from damage.

UV Protection

If you thought sun protection was only for your skin, think again. Your eyes might not get tanned or sunburned like your skin does, but they can still get damaged by UV rays if you go out without protection.

That’s why many sunglasses feature UV-protective lenses. These lenses are designed to block UVA and UVB rays so that your eyesight is safe for years to come.

While polarized sunglasses lenses are optional, you definitely don’t want to pass on lenses with UV protection. You technically can purchase sunglasses without UV protection, but you’d be missing out on the benefits of the lenses. At Pair Eyewear, all (yes, all) of our lenses offer both UVA and UVB protection. We have you covered.

Lens Material

You’ll also want to look at the material your lens is made of and make sure it’s a material that will fit your lifestyle. Most lenses are made from plastic nowadays. Specifically, you can find sunglasses made from acrylic, polycarbonate, CR-39, or polyurethane.

You may also find sunglasses made with glass lenses, but keep in mind that glass tends to shatter more easily than plastic. If there’s one thing you don’t want near your face, it’s broken glass. Plastic lenses, on the other hand, are often made to be more durable and less prone to breaking.

Lens Color

Lens color is all about aesthetics, so you really can’t go wrong. However, it is an important factor that affects the whole vibe of your sunnies.

Popular sunglasses colors include:

  • Gray
  • Amber or brown
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue

You can also opt for mirrored lenses, which are coated with a reflective material. This coating does more than add a mysterious allure to your getup — it can also reflect more light, which can further help keep unwanted brightness out of your eyes.

Photochromic Lenses

These aren’t technically sunglasses, but they do function as sunglasses. Photochromic lenses are normal optical lenses that darken in the sunlight. Also called transitional lenses, they help glasses wearers get the best of both worlds with only one pair of frames. On the downside, conventional photochromic lenses might not work in cars or cold weather, and they typically aren’t polarized.

If you want the versatility of photochromic lenses without the cons, you might also want to consider Pair Eyewear. With our base and top frame system, you can choose a base frame of your liking and then pick out sunglasses top frames to go over them. Our magnetic top frames allow you to quickly add UV protection and polarization without needing to reach for a whole new pair of glasses.

Prescription

What happens when you need an eyeglass prescription in order to see, but you also need to wear some sunglasses while you’re out and about? The answer is simple — just put your prescription on your sunglasses!

However, you can’t put your prescription in the normal sunglasses you buy at the department store. If you want to put your prescription in a pair of sunglasses, just contact your optometrist.

What Are the Different Styles of Sunglasses?

Now that we’ve discussed the technical aspects of owning a pair of sunglasses, let’s get to the fun part: aesthetics. When it comes to the appearance of the glasses themselves, the most important thing to consider is the shape of the frames. Different shapes of frames complement different face shapes, so choosing the right shape is key.

Cat-Eye

Did someone say, “Retro?” The cat-eye frame silhouette is one of the most classic frame shapes, hailing from the 50s and gracing the faces of starlets like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

These frames convey a distinct sassiness that’s sure to complement your chic side. And, if you style them right, they can make a fashion statement that’ll make sure you stand out — in a good way, of course.

Give this silhouette a spin with The Wanda. These classic cat-eye frames are designed to fit most faces, including oval, round, square, heart, diamond, and triangle-shaped faces. Opt for clear pink frames with reflective pink lenses for a look that sums up the sweetness of the 50s.

Aviator

Aviators are one of the most iconic frame shapes, due in part to Tom Cruise’s costuming in Top Gun. However, these frames started out in the military.

Originally, aviator sunglasses were designed to be worn under helmets, which is why they usually feature metal frames and slightly curved lenses. While the teardrop lens shape is now one of the defining features of these fashionable frames, they were made that way so pilots could glance down at their control boards.

This style fully crossed over from military use to civilian fashion in the 1930s when General Douglas MacArthur wore them when he landed in the Philippines. Nowadays, they’re a staple frame shape that instantly brings iconic energy to your day.

Wayfarer

This frame is a modified square shape that’s perfect for any adventurer. They were originally designed in the 1950s and were a wardrobe staple of many celebrities of the day, including James Dean and Buddy Holly. The style almost died out in the 1970s, but it’s clear that they stuck around. Now, this style is one of the most popular and versatile frame shapes out there.

If you love the classic wayfarer frames, try out our lookalikes. The Otis is a pair of frames that looks great on any face shape, but especially oval, square, or oblong faces. For a look that’s as versatile as it is showstopping, choose the clear frames with green lenses.

Square

A true set of square-shaped frames makes for a fresh fashion statement. The sharp angles of square frames perfectly complement the softness of a round face shape and help add a sense of maturity and wisdom.

Popular wearers of square-shaped glasses include Anne Hathaway, Stephen Colbert, and Lady Gaga. These frames were also made popular by none other than Superman, who wears square frames when he’s trying to blend in as Clark Kent.

To try square sunnies out for yourself, give The Twain a go. These modified square frames have all of the statement-making appeal of a true square frame while still maintaining a sleek, modern edge. Opt for tortoise-colored frames with black lenses to create a truly stand-out look.

Round

You might recognize round frames from popular icons like John Lennon and Harry Potter. These frames give off a vintage vibe that is perfect for any scholar or fan of the arts — or for anyone with an oval, square, or oblong face shape.

Pair them with a cable knit sweater and some thrifted jeans or with a pair of fun, printed pants. The beauty of round glasses is their ability to add a spark of creativity to any outfit.

Try round frames for yourself with The Soto. These classic round frames are full of charm and whimsy — plus, the lenses are polarized and provide UV protection (as with all of our sunnies). To lean into the vintage spirit, opt for a tortoise-colored frame with brown lenses.

Shield

Shield sunglasses are made of a single lens that covers the front of the frame, including the nose bridge. You might not see these sunglasses very often, as they aren’t super popular on their own — however, shield sunglasses do become trendy every now and again.

Right now, shield sunglasses are right on-trend, along with everything else from the 2000s. These frames bring a futuristic vibe, but they actually draw from a very down-to-earth inspiration: lab glasses.

While these frames might have started as lab glasses, they eventually evolved to be more of a fashion statement. Today, you can find shield glasses with all colors of reflective lenses and bright neon frames.

Navigator

These are a close cousin to the aviator frames. In fact, they may be more like siblings.

Navigators are similar to aviators in that they have two bars across the nose bridge and often feature slightly oversized lenses. However, they don’t feature the same teardrop-shaped lenses — instead, they’re often made with modified square, rectangular, or geometric lenses. They can also be made with plastic frames, whereas aviators usually come with metal frames.

Rectangular

If you have an oval or round-shaped face, then you might just want to consider a pair of rectangular sunnies. Rectangle frames feature sharp angles and lines that can perfectly complement a round face. They help ease some of those soft and youthful features and add an air of maturity.

Rectangular frames have graced the faces of celebs like Justin Timberlake, Julia Roberts, and Emma Watson. These frames are versatile and easy to style, which means they’re a must-have for anyone who’s into easy, breezy fashion.

Try rectangle frames for yourself with The Finley. These rectangle frames are on the narrow side and go with any of our interchangeable top frames (as do any of our base frames). For a good, classic appeal, try The Finley in black with black lenses.

Clip-On

These aren’t really a frame style all on their own, but they are popular enough that we’ll mention them here. Clip-ons are sunglass lenses that you can clip in over your existing prescription frames.

The benefit of having clip-on lenses is that you can use one pair of frames as both eyeglasses and sunglasses. And, since you’re using just one pair of frames, you don’t have to change up your aesthetic too much.

The downside is that traditional clip-ons are easier to lose and can often look bulky.

How Can You Buy Sunglasses for Your Face Shape?

Of course, your own personal style is the most important factor when it comes to buying sunglasses. However, you should also consider your face shape.

Buying glasses that don’t match your face shape is a little like buying clothes in the wrong size. They might not look bad, but buying a pair that fits your features makes a huge difference.

Some of the most common face shapes include the following:

  • Heart: You might have a heart-shaped face if you have a pointed chin and a wide forehead. This face shape works best with round, rectangular, and aviator frames.
  • Square: You might have a square-shaped face if the sides are straight and your jawline is angular without many curves. This face shape works best with round or oval frames.
  • Round: If your cheekbones are the widest part of your face and your chin is rounded, you might have a round face. This face shape works best with square, rectangular, or cat-eye glasses.
  • Oval: You might have an oval-shaped face if your face is long, your forehead is narrow, and your jaw is the narrowest part of your face. This face shape works best with square, rectangular, cat-eye, and aviator frames that are slightly oversized.
  • Diamond: If you have a pointed chin and a narrow forehead, you might have a diamond face shape. This face shape works best with round or cat-eye glasses.
  • Triangle: You might have a triangle-shaped face if your forehead is the narrowest part of your face and you have a wide jaw. This face shape works best with aviators and cat-eye glasses.
  • Oblong: If you have the same features as a square-shaped face, but your face is a little longer, you might have an oblong-shaped face. This face shape works best with rectangular and cat-eye frames that are slightly oversized.

How To Customize Sunglasses

Whether you’re wearing sunglasses while you’re dancing at a music festival or simply while you’re driving, one thing’s for sure: Customization is key. Here’s how Pair Eyewear can help you achieve ultimate customization for your sunnies.

Base Frames

The first step is selecting your base frames. This is where you’ll select the overall shape of your sunglasses, as well as what color your lenses are. Make sure you select a base frame that fits your face shape and also the width of your face. From extra-wide to extra-narrow, we have frames for all face sizes and shapes!

Our base frames are also made out of hand-polished, flexible acetate that’s durable and long-lasting. They’re also lightweight, so you can even wear them out for a full-day hike or a day on the beach.

Lenses

Next up, lenses! This is where you’ll select what coatings and add-ons you want for your lenses.

All of our lenses come 100% polarized to minimize glare and increase color saturation. They also feature UVA and UVB protection so that your vision can stay healthy for the long term. You can also add reflective lenses, which help keep more unwanted light out of your eyes.

If you have an eyeglass prescription, we can also put your prescription in your sunnies for an extra fee. Our single-vision lenses are made of polycarbonate and feature superhydrophobic, anti-reflective, and scratch-resistant treatments. Our progressive lenses offer a more modern option for anyone with a bifocal or trifocal prescription or anyone who wears both eyeglasses and reading glasses.

Top Frames

This is where it really gets fun. Once you have your base frame, you can add any of our top frames to create the ultimate customized pair of sunnies.

Our top frames are made with magnets that hold them in place over the face of your sunglasses. This way, you can display whatever side of your personality you’re feeling! If you’re feeling artsy, go for The Blooming Shrooms top frames. If you’re feeling a little more subdued, you can always go for a tried-and-true classic with The Woodgrain.

The Bottom Line

Who knew there was so much to know about sunglasses? Picking the perfect pair isn’t as simple as just buying a set of glasses at a department store. There are so many factors that go into choosing a pair that’s just right for you, including polarization, lens material, lens prescription, and frame shape.

At Pair Eyewear, we understand that your glasses aren’t just a fashion statement — they’re a reflection of who you are. We embrace all the ways that we change from day to day, which is why we developed an eyewear system that changes with you! To learn more about our glasses and eye health in general, visit the Pair Eyewear blog today.

Sources:

Sunglasses and Your Eyes | ColumbiaDoctors - New York

The Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses | Southwest Health

Glass or Plastic: Which Type of Lens Should You Choose? | Optometrists.org

Sunglasses With Transition Lenses: Pros and Cons | American Academy of Ophthalmology

The History of Aviator Sunglasses | North Central Institute