Face shape, frame shape, lens types, intended usage… Let’s get serious about finding the right pair of sunglasses for you.
In this article, I will tell you:
- How to find the right style of frame for your face in seconds
- How to choose a frame based on your intended use
- How to choose a lens based on your intended use
- How to consider additional features
- How to get the sunglasses from a trustworthy retailer, at a price from a shady one (I couldn’t resist the pun)
- My use case
- How to look after your sunglasses
Why is this Article Needed?
Finding the right type of sunglasses is hard as there are many items to consider:
- Face shape
- Frame style
- Intended usage
- Lens type
Each one of these items has multiple options.
Whilst researching a pair for myself I decided to research each item. My research led me to come up with a simple method of finding the right sunglasses, so I decided to document it.
Step 1 — Frame Style for your Face Shape
Use the Oakley Frame Advisor tool from your phone or laptop, to take a photograph of your face present frame style recommendations.
It determines your age group, face shape and face length, then displays a number of sunglasses that it thinks are suitable. Although it only suggests Oakley sunglasses, you can apply the suggestions to sunglasses of other manufacturers.
You could instead watch videos on YouTube on how to find the right frame style for your face shape. They describe how you should measure certain elements of your face, write these down and then make calculations to determine which frames suite you best. I can’t be bothered with all that… the Oakley tool does a good job.
Step 2 — Intended Use — Frame Style
What will your primary use be for the sunglasses?
They could be for one or a combination of:
- Casual use
The use might add requirements:
- Size of lens
- Side shielding requirement
- Glasses that hug and stay put with lots of movement
- Retainer strap (to not fall off)
- Lifetime warranty
Try frames on — virtually
Many brand and retail websites provide a virtual mirror feature, to give you an idea of how the frames will look on you. Click on ‘Try On’ at the top of this page.
You might want multiple sunglasses for multiple activities. I have separate sunglasses for:
- Casual/driving (sport/casual crossover style, grey base-tint, 11% light transmission, polarised)
- Road cycling (‘wrap around’ style with 3 interchangeable lenses — clear, amber and dark)
- Shooting (‘wrap around’ style, amber)
- Snowboarding (goggles — clear and amber)
Step 3 — Intended Use — Lens Type
Frames are usually offered with a large number of matching lenses.
The lenses should be chosen based on your intended use. They can be split into these categories:
- How much light do they block?
- Do they provide increased contrast?
- Are they intended for land, water or snow?
- Do they reduce glare from reflected surfaces (e.g. polarised)?
- Can they be prescription lenses?
If you are buying sunglasses for use in bright sunshine, you probably want a lens that will block out a lot of light and glare. This will result in reduced squinting, eyestrain, irritation, tiredness and headaches.
If you are fishing, you will want a polarised lens to reduce the sun’s reflection on the water and an amber lens for better clarity when looking into the water to so you can see the fish.
If you are sailing, you will want a polarised lens to reduce the sun’s reflection on the water and a blue lens would be a good choice as this will filter out blue light, allowing you to you see other colours better.
If you are mountain biking in a forest, you may not need a polarised lens and you might want an amber lens for clarity or a lens that only blocks some light (not too dark).
If you are road cycling, you might want sunglasses that support interchangeable lenses, so you can fit dark lenses on a bright day, amber lenses on an overcast day and clear lenses when riding in the evening.
Step 4 — Additional Features
These are often of secondary importance or ‘nice to have’. They can include:
- Ballistic protection (construction industry, shooting, etc.)
- Bottle opener
- Camera (still/video)
- Digital assistant (Alexa/Google/Siri)
- Interchangeable lenses
- Magnets or locking mechanism to keep the glasses on your shirt
- Music player
- Lifetime warranty
I really like products that have multiple uses, here are some examples:
Ballistic protection is important in industries such as construction, using high-powered water jets and shooting.
A few companies (notably Snapchat and Ray-Ban) have brought out sunglasses with integrated cameras for stills and videos. They pair to a mobile phone for data transfer and upload to social media. None have really taken off — this review of the Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses by Casey Neistat suggests that the quality of the sunglasses isn’t good enough yet.
Amazon sell Echo Frames, which are glasses/sunglasses with the Amazon Alexa digital assistant built in. They are currently only being sold in limited regions.
Glasses with digital assistants have been around for a few years now, but none have made it mainstream. As the technology gets better, they will become more useful and last longer between charges. It will be interesting to see how this area progresses.
The Kore Recon Ballistic sunglasses have magnets in the arms that allow them to clasp tightly to your shirt (neck or sleeve) or sun visor (they sell a strap) so you don’t lose them. I really like this idea and wonder why I can’t find it in any other manufacturer’s glasses…
Several manufactures produce sunglasses that can play audio. Bose are one of the leaders in this.
Some manufactures such as SunGod and William Painter have really good lifetime guarantees that offer free repairs, discounted second pairs, etc. This is worth considering if you are prone to damaging your glasses.
Step 5 — Cost
Where possible, I like to buy items from shops that I know are reputable, trustworthy, nice to engage with and won’t have any issues with me returning the item for any reason. It’s even better if I can get a discount from one of the cashback/discount providers I use.
The most recent pair of sunglasses I bought (Oakley OO9460 Men’s Portal X Prizm) were listed for £180 on the John Lewis website, but I got them to price match to £130 from Shade Station, which was the lowest price I could find anywhere.
My Use Case
I wanted a pair of sunglasses for driving and casual use when it’s sunny. I had previously had a pair of polarised Ray Bans for around 15 years which had been great for walking, driving, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc.
The Oakley Frame Advisor tool said I have an oval shape face and it suggested sunglasses which were ‘letterbox’ shaped (i.e. not tall or round).
I looked at that style of frame from various brands, but decided to stick with Oakley, in part because I wanted to try something other than Ray-Ban (just to have a change) and I liked what I had researched about the Oakley Prizm lenses.
After many hours of watching YouTube reviews on frames and lenses, I came up with this shortlist:
- MrJWW Larvotto, £150
- SungGod Renegades, £110
- Oakley Custom Frog Skins, £189
- Oakley Custom Fuel Cell, £198
- Oakley Custom Sylas, £164
- Oakley Whisker, £189
- Oakley Ejector, £189
- Oakley Gibston, £152
- Oakley Portal X, £180
After a few more hours watching YouTube reviews, I decided to get the Oakley OO9460 Men’s Portal X Prizm because:
- It was highly recommended in all the reviews and is a top contender in all the ‘best in class’ type reviews I watched
- It’s a sport/casual frame. So are designed to grip on well to the head, even with movement
- The size of the lens is good, providing the coverage I want
- The lens is polarised, grey base-tint with 11% light transmission, making it great for bright sunshine
I then found the best price online (£130) and got John Lewis to price match it. I paid online, picked up in store, then emailed John Lewis to claim the refund they promised — I got this a few days later. I also saved an additional 5% with my Crypto.com card and 1% with my Curve card.
I have found them to be very comfortable to wear and the lenses are great, they really do provide comfort to the eyes when driving.
If you follow these 5 steps, you will be able to quickly, easily and confidently, identify the right sunglasses for you.
If you want to try out some styles at home, for free; Amazon Prime offer a fantastic ‘try before you buy’ service, which allows you to receive 6 items of clothing (including sunglasses). You have 7 days to review them before sending them back — you only pay for what you keep. They didn’t have the sunglasses I wanted within this function, but it’s worth checking.
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