In Style + Design

A Definitive Guide To Designer Sunglasses

Frantically circling racks of flimsy sunglasses to find a pair you’ll eventually lose anyway is a thing of the past. These days, it’s no longer acceptable to skimp on this important part of your outfit.

A pair of high-end sunglasses can go a long way, not just from a style perspective, but as a practical necessity. Most offer protection from insidious UV rays, superior optical clarity and better colour accuracy.

“A cheap pair of sunglasses simply doesn’t cut it,” says Alexandra Kerr, head buyer for Sunglass Hut Australia. “With poor UV protection, easily damaged material, and low-quality optical clarity, a cheap pair just isn’t worth the potential damage it can cause to your eyes.”


Image: Pared Eyewear / supplied

To help you land on the right pair, here are the current trends, qualities to look out for, and, once you’ve settled on a pair, tips on how to care for them.

Current sunglasses trends

Style trends rotate all the time in the world of designer sunglasses. According to Kerr, current crazes are moving towards aerodynamic shapes and colourful mirrored lenses, as well as oversized wrap-arounds and eccentric shields to add a bit of visual pizzazz.


Image: Maui Jim / supplied

Although classic shapes like aviators and wayfarer designs remain the most time-honoured, year-round choices, there has been a noticeable rush towards round vintag, ultra-small lenses, and futuristic wrap-around styles, says Nathan Fisher of Maui Jim Sunglasses.

Independent Australian brand Pared Eyewear has been witnessing a particular love of square frames, with male buyers in particular showing a bias towards more “androgynous styles”, says the company’s Creative Director Samantha Stevenson.

“Men are becoming more experimental with the shapes they wear,” says Stevenson. “They are more interested in trying new things or being a bit quirkier.”

How to choose the right pair

When shopping for the best pair of sunglasses to match your individual style, it’s best to consider what kind of face you have.

Generally, a rounder face will have softer angles, which best suit sunglasses that add a bit of structure. Styles with sharper edges like Maui Jim’s ‘Shallows’ or ‘Triton’ will help, along with lenses which taper slightly inwards to help elongate facial features.

A longer, oblong-shaped face – the jaw and forehead are the same widths – will usually pair better with slightly thicker frames designed to draw focus up to eye level and ensure the frames aren’t wider than the face.


Image: Maui Jim / supplied

If the length and width of your forehead are almost identical, that means you have a square-shaped face. You’ll want to opt for round shapes to help flatten and soften features, with examples being Maui Jim’s ‘Pineapple’ and ‘Sunny Daze’ styles.

Anyone with an oval face, where the forehead sits marginally wider than the jaw, is in luck as they will generally match well with any pair of sunglasses.

Apart from style, the most important thing to look out for is 100% UVA and UVB protection, which helps prevent long-term adverse effects like cataracts, macular degeneration, skin cancer, and abnormal lesions around the eyes.

Similarly, you should consider lens polarisation, which is often what distinguishes a cheap pair from the higher-end. Budget sunglasses may claim UV protection, but the lower quality lenses often don’t translate to optical clarity, colour accuracy, or reduced glare. This can lead to issues like eye fatigue and watery eyes, which is why a pair of premium polarised sunglasses is crucial.


Image: Luxottica Group / supplied

“Only the best lenses deliver a view without any distortion, and some make colours brighter and sharper,” says Fisher. “Other benefits of more expensive sunglass lenses are the quality of their coatings, like anti-reflective and scratch-resistant, or oleophobic which helps avoid smudges and greases.”

Make sure you also look for a collection with variety. An iconic brand like Ray-Ban would have the range of options necessary so you can choose exactly what works for you. Materials like acetate, carbon fibre and titanium, and lenses like the iconic G-15, chromance or mirrored makes for a comprehensive pool of reliable choices.

Also pay attention to brands that are constantly evolving, like the aforementioned Pared. They regularly release collaborative capsules, and have  created unique styles in partnership with label P.E Nation and Melbourne musicians Client Liaison.

How to care for them


Image: Pared Eyewear / supplied

Sometimes maintenance is not as simple as keeping sunglasses in their case. You also want to make sure you’re not in the habit of wearing them on your head, as this can warp the frames substantially, causing them to stretch and destroy their fit.

If sunglasses do stretch, use heat from a kitchen toaster to reshape them – though this only works with some materials. It’s a better idea to buy brands which offer ongoing after-sale service.

When cleaning sunglasses, ensure you aren’t using clothing or tissues as this can scratch the lenses. Instead, use a mild, liquid dish or hand soap (without moisturiser) to wash lenses every day and a microfiber cloth to dry them. Make sure you’re laundering the cloth regularly as well, to help keep it free of debris, dirt and oils that could damage lenses.

(Lead image: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash) 

Published 30 August, 2019