Like so many other great ideas, sunglasses were invented in China and came to Europe with Marco Polo. Initially, they were used to hide one’s eyes and thoughts. It wasn’t until the mid-1700s that they joined hats and umbrellas as sun protection. In the early 20th Century, sunglasses really took off with sun-struck beach-goers and, in the 21st Century, both protection and fashion are equally important.
Modern shades may be marketed under several monikers: “Designer mens sunglasses” feature the trendiest styles, the highest quality and, usually, the highest price. “Fashion sunglasses” also feature great style, but without the name-brand price. “Sport sunglasses” can be very stylish, but their primary purpose is eye protection and form follows function.
Where fashion is concerned, you can wear any style, but specific styles enhance certain facial types, making a fashion statement that everybody will hear. In the final analysis, however, there are just two questions to ask about dark shades: Do you like the style? Do they compliment your face? If so, they are the right glasses for you.
Suit the shades to fit the features
Though many men are into brand name designer accessories, fact is that women tend to care more about clothing accessories and fashion. So, while the following guidelines refer primarily to ladies, most of the advice is equally applicable to gentlemen. Where sunglasses are concerned, specific styles work best with each of the five basic face shapes. The goal is balance — wear sunglasses that are what your face is not:
The square faced woman / the strong-jawed man
Epitomized by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s, she wore oversized sunglasses, popularizing a style still frequently often called the Jackie O. For women, the curvier styles, round or cat’s eye, will compliment your angular features. Men usually want a more strong-jawed appearance rather than less, so enhance the effect by wearing sunglasses with sharp angles.
The heart faced woman / the triangular faced man
To balance a wide forehead and narrow chin, choose sunglasses with cat’s eye frames or any with well-rounded edges; fashion sunglasses with a wider lower edge and no straight lines along the top work especially well.
The long or oblong face
Round or rectangular lenses in oversized frames are much recommended. Sunglasses with thick frames add width; tall or deep lenses and fashion sunglasses with decorative frames or vintage style also fit.
The round face
On a face with the most noticeable curves, sunglasses should have fewest. Narrow frames, frames with high temples and very colorful frames, like the classic tortoise-shell style, also add definition.
The oval face
Gently rounded curves work with virtually any style from dollar store to designer; those that look best are sunglasses which cover from the eyebrows to the cheekbones.
The first real sunglasses fashion statement was an accident. Aviator style shades were created for the military just before World War II and the glamour of the ‘ace’ included his fashion accessories. Those who couldn’t fly could still try to look cool in mirrored, teardrop-shaped sunglasses. Today’s aviator sunglasses make great accessories for almost any face, male or female.
Sunglasses buying tips
Regardless of style, sunglasses should protect your vision. Recent scientific advancements have greatly expanded understanding of the eye, creating materials to defend them.
The bright light of a cloudless day can be painful and distracting, so most people wear sunglasses when outside, especially while driving. At the other end of the spectrum, fog and smoke decrease visibility. The amber lenses which have become popular in recent decades filter out the additional blue light scattered by low-lying clouds, giving drivers a more balanced, clearer view of the road. Polarized sunglasses help cut down the glare of reflected light.
Ultra-violet radiation (known in ads as UVA and UVB) are known contributing factors to cataracts and other eye problems. Look for a UV-rating blocking at least 70-percent of UVA and 60-percent of UVB light. Really good sunglasses claim to block 100-percent of both.
The other main danger is impact damage. Flying debris ranges from annoying (like specks of dust) to sight-threatening (including pebbles kicked up by moving cars). The Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency which sets standards for impact resistance. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private organization dedicated to producing quality goods in the USA. “FDA compliant” and “ANSI compliant” are great benchmarks for any lenses; especially in sports sunglasses.