The Dude Society

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Sunglasses 101: Choosing The Right Frames For Your Face

It’s that time of year again, sun is glaring off all the buildings in the city and you’re digging around your bag to pull out your aviators.

“Found them!” Sighs of relief all around, until it happens:  You’re cleaning them off with your t-shirt, situating them on your face, and Boom!  There is a giant, gaping scratch right down the middle of the lens. “F*ck!”

If you’re anything like me, we treat our sunglasses the same way:  not well. This often means, every season I have to buy a new pair of shades…  Not because I necessarily want to, but because I break them.  Continually.  (Sometime, I’ll run you through my track record with the iPhone.)

While shopping for the right frames isn’t as daunting as, say, a pair of jeans, it helps to know what you’re looking for before you jump out of the starting gates.

Basic Terminology

Temple: This is the side of the frame that sits at your temple. It’s the arm of the frame that extends around your ear.

Bridge: This is the actual shape that’s sitting across your face.  You can break this down into styles, which all subdivide into different bridge styles all depending on the whim of the accessories designer.  In short, the bridge style will work for you depends on your face shape, and that’s something we’ll tackle shortly.

Lens: This is the easiest one. It’s the part you look out of that actually does the sun-blocking.   The height of the lens will be the defining factor determined by your face shape. You can find them in different tones–  usually amber, grey, or green do the most efficient job.

Polarization: Let me just be blunt: go ahead an buy your fashion glasses, and don’t worry if they’re not polarized.  Lenses today are crafted to protect against harmful UVA/UVB rays, and that’s what you need to be concerned with.  Polarization is a buzzword often incorrectly characterized as protection, when really it has absolutely nothing to do with it.  You really only need polarization if you’re doing something involving an “extreme sport.”

Frames For Your Face Shape

The fact that everyone has a different face shape isn’t rocket science, but sometimes shopping for frames that suit your face shape is rocket science.

Not all face shapes were created equal, so not all frames will look equally awesome. David Spade won’t carry off the same shades that David Beckham will. Just as Justin Timberlake and Jake Gyllenhaal wouldn’t pick the same style off the wall at Barney’s.  It all comes down to what shape is right for your face. I’ve picked some great examples for both an acetate (plastic) frame and a wire frame.

Round Faces

If you have a round face, it looks exactly as it sounds.  You have soft cheekbones and a softer jaw-line.  It’s almost as wide as it is tall.

Rad dudes with Round Faces: Jeremy Renner, Elijah Wood, & Leonardo DiCaprio.

Your goal is to make your face appear longer. Stay away from round shapes that will only amplify your softer features. Square frames or something with a nice angle will look amazing.

Try these Classic Rectangular acetate frames by John Varvatos.

You can find them on the John Varvatos website for $325.

They’re a play on a classic Wayfarer style (Don’t sue us, Ray-Ban, we’re getting to you!), though these guys have a nice sharp corner with a really modern finish.  The Italian milled acetate makes the frame pretty durable, too.

Square Faces

This shape is very similar to the round face, but instead of a softer jaw, yours is square.  Your cheekbones fall in straight line with your jaw, and your face is as wide as it is tall.

These dudes may look square, but they ain’t “square”: David Beckham, Daniel Dae Kim, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Basically, you have to do the exact opposite of our rounded gents, in order to balance out your strong features. Try something with slightly rounded edges to soften things up a bit.  Stay away from those sharp angles, or you’ll look like you just fell out of SNL’s “Sprockets” sketch.

Try these Round frames by Persol.  This is almost like the sexy twin brother of the frames shown above by John Varvatos.  You can still have that modern Wayfarer look, but with a soft-ness that lets the structure of your face stand out, as opposed to your accessory.

You can find these babies on the Barney’s website for $310.

Oblong Faces

Why the long face?  Because it just came that way.  There’s really no other way of saying it. Your cheekbones and jaw-line are as proportional as an oval face, just… longer.

Awesome oblong-ers: John Hamm & Adam Levine.

So, your face is long… You can also call it “rectangular.” What you need to do, is figure out how to balance out your face. Experiment with lines, here.  Horizontal ones will widen your face, if it’s just plain ol’ long and skinny. Rounder frames will balance out a high forehead. Same thing goes for your chin. Stay away from really tall frames, because that will only make your face seem longer.

Try these LEMTOSH frames, the signature of New York favorite Sol Moscot.

Established back in 1915, they’ve been the makers of quality, custom eyewear that has lasted some through almost as many generations.  Trust me:  A friend of mine still wears his father’s Moscots.  And I, myself, sport the ADDISON frame for my regular spectacles.

They can be found directly on the Moscot website for $255.

Oval Faces

Dude…  You’re kind of considered “ideal.”  Nothing is longer than wide, and nothing stands out particularly more than anything else.  Standard masculine features, and face it:  you’re just plain good-lookin’.

Congrats! You share your shape with these other ideal gents: Brad Pitt, Chase Crawford, & Jude Law.

If your face shape is oval, and you’re reading this for “rules,” then you should probably know that in your case, there are no rules.  And even if there were, you get the luxury of knowing that rules are meant to be broken.  Anything will look good on you.  Below are a few of my favorites for the season.

The Club Master by Ray-Ban will always hold an unabashedly preppy spot in my heart. You can find them on the Barney’s website for $145.

Named after one of the most dashing leading men in cinematic history, the Gregory Peck frame is just as timeless as its namesake.  These guys are limited edition, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Look like a gentleman and scholar in these frames by the incomparable Oliver Peoples. They can be gotten from the Oliver Peoples website for $385. (They’re also available in an optical version)

The longer you have these guys, and really break them in, the more vintage they’ll look.  Especially with the tortoise encased tubular bridge.  Totally Out of Africa and a totally stunning, detail driven look at the aviator by Polo Ralph Lauren. You can find them on the Ralph Lauren website for $190.

Heart Shaped Faces

There is nothing girlie about hearts in this situation.  You have a broad forehead, and a nice square jaw-line.  Your chin just happens to be a little pointy.  It’s a face that anyone would love.

Handsome Heart-shapers: Ryan Gosling, Zac Efron, & David Spade.

What we’re trying to do here is balance out a strong forehead and a not-so-strong chin.   Straight lines across the bridge that soften at the bottoms will do the trick.  Aviators with a nice classic line will do the trick.

I like this Persol frame because of the classic Persol look, with the chic-ness of an amber lens on a black metal frame.  With the scalloped bridge, it’s a very sophisticated way to wear an aviator. Get them from Persol.

So, I’m admitting it.  These are the frames that I let swim around my bag.  I wear them oversized, but they come in many different widths.  I keep buying them time and time again, because they never go out of style.  Plus, I love the weight of a glass lens.  Get them from Ray-Ban for $139-189.

A sexy Tom Ford aviator for you fashion forward boys.  These really do a good job at bringing a little smoothness and flavor to what can sometimes be an unadventurous shape.  Also, hand-milled Italian acetate.  Get them from Barney’s for $390.

Diamond Shaped Faces

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so it’s no mystery that this is one sexy face shape.  You have prominent cheekbones, a slight square to your jaw, and a bit of a point to your forehead and chin.

Don’t start cryin’ a river! You share your shape with Justin Timberlake.

You’ve got some cheekbones that we need to battle.  While they are a handsome feature, if put with the wrong frame, they can make you look severe.  This is the only time I will ever endorse the wrap-around frame.   Really, what we’re looking for is a lens that’s oval shaped.

I love this frame by Oliver Peoples.   It’s elliptical, so it widens where it needs to, but still has the classic wire-frame dynamics. Get these from Oliver Peoples for $400.

These are ”The Cool” frame by Carerra.  Honestly, guys— I’d try to avoid the wrap around as much as possible.  In a time where the structure is being celebrated in menswear, such a shape looks a bit dated.  Unless you’re playing golf, try these as a chic alternative.  And even if you are on the green, these guys are polarized (for that contrast needed to spot a tiny white ball from 180 yards away.) Get them from Bloomingdale’s for $120.

There you have it, fellas.  Sunglasses for every shape, size, and lifestyle.  I think I’ll make an effort to keep my new sunglasses in a case this season.

Who am I kidding?

You don’t think you can keep them out of your pocket, either?  Try these:  At least they fold.  Get these foldable Wayfarers from Ray-Ban for $155-205.

About the author

Steph is a fashion designer and grooming expert. Originally from New Orleans, Steph now calls the Big Apple home. She has spent many years in the fashion industry, including a long stint at menswear boutique, John Varvatos. She knows her stuff.

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