There’s something quite chic about black sunglasses. From Audrey Hepburn’s Oliver Goldsmith pair in the famous opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Hailey Bieber’s tried-and-true butterfly-shaped frames by Saint Laurent, the classic eyewear combo has proven to be an easy way to top off even the simplest of looks. Though, when shopping for a pair to add to your collection, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Whether you’re in the market for small oval frames that are reminiscent of the ‘90s or a chunky acetate pair by the likes of Loewe or Bottega Veneta, the key is first identifying your face shape and what frames are best suited for your lifestyle. Those who are looking for a sportier pair that can be worn during training will appreciate styles made with more functional features like anti-fog lenses and featherweight acetate. However, if you’re hoping to invest in an elevated pair, designer sunglasses that are punctuated with polished hardware and a glossy finish might be more your speed. No matter your preference, it’s important to keep these specifications in mind before fully committing.
For even more guidance, we’ve assembled an exhaustive guide that breaks down everything you need to know to make the best purchase for you. We’ve also curated a list of our favorites available now, based on our rigorous research.
Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses
On the short list of the most popular sunglasses of all time, Ray Ban’s classic black Wayfarers are somewhere close to the top. This is one of the reasons why we’ve deemed the best of the best. On top of the classic D-frame shape and expansive offering in terms of lens colors and features, the new smart component allows wearers to capture what’s right in front of them without the hassle of whipping out their phones. Once you’ve set them up, all you have to do is turn them on and with a click of the button on the side of your sunnies, you can take a picture without fumbling around for your phone. Other capabilities include recording videos, playing music, sending messages, and making phone calls.
Price at time of publish: $299
Material: Acetate | Shape: D-frame | Polarized: Yes
Le Specs Outta Love Sunglasses
Le Specs excels at making trend-forward styles that are equal parts fashionable and wallet-friendly. Their best-selling Outta Love pair are made from glossy acetate with vintage-inspired, oval-shaped frames and storm gray lenses that keep your eyes protected from harmful UV rays. Like most all-black sunglasses, they go with everything but one of the best parts about the exaggerated oval shape is that they have the power to instantly elevate even the most simple of outfits, regardless of your style.
Price at time of publish: $65
Material: Acetate | Shape: Oval | Polarized: No
Bottega Veneta Logo Acetate Rectangle Sunglasses
Historically, sunglasses are nice entry-point products for those looking to invest in a new designer piece because they generally run into four digits. But what we love about Bottega Veneta’s oversized sunglasses in particular is the quietly luxurious gold-tone hardware along the sides. They’re complete with dark-gray lenses that contain UV protection—they’re sharp but not trendy, so you’re sure to get a lot of wear out of them over the years.
Price at time of publish: $540
Material: Acetate and metal | Shape: Rectangle | Polarized: No
Pepper Eyewear Sherry Sunglasses
“We look to vintage sunglasses to find inspiration for our collection,” explains Pepper Eyewear co-founder Katherine Brooks—which is quite clear from the look of the brand’s Sherry cat-eye sunglasses. They’re reminiscent of Old Hollywood fashion, and given their slender silhouette, they would look best on small round face shapes. From an editor’s perspective, we only wish they were polarized. On the other hand, people with prescriptions can feel good about spending less on a pair of sunglasses since they need to replace the lenses anyway.
Price at time of publish: $118
Material: Acetate | Shape: Cat-eye | Polarized: No
Quay High Key Sunglasses
Much like classic D-shaped frames, aviators have an extensive past. Commissioned by the U.S. military in 1935, the traditional shape (also known as “pilots glasses”) was designed to protect airmen’s eyes while flying. Today, they’re among the most popular styles. We love Quay’s spin on it with its High Key style. It has polarized lenses and flexible metal arms. Plus, it comes in three sizes to accommodate more face shapes and style preferences.
Price at time of publish: $75–$85
Material: Metal | Shape: Aviator | Polarized: Yes
Gucci Oval Frame Sunglasses
In true Alessandro Michele fashion, the former creative director infused a sense of ’90s nostalgia into these frames so they look like they could have been plucked straight from your favorite vintage store. They’re instantly recognized by the designer’s signature gold-tone logo plaque at the side. Crafted in Italy from black acetate with gray lenses, the inside of the sunglasses have a marbled design, for a unique finishing touch.
Price at time of publish: $279
Material: Acetate | Shape: Oval | Polarized: No
Loewe Anagram Mask Sunglasses
With the motorsport trend making its fashion rounds, it makes sense that mask-like sunglasses are somewhere in the mix. Loewe’s oversized Anagram pair is a prime example. Seen on the likes of Cardi B (in the green colorway), the designer sunglasses have sharp angles that are reminiscent of athletic goggles used for off-road activities and winter sports. They’re made from acetate with polished gold-tone hardware and an intricate logo on both sides for an elevated look.
Price at time of publish: $390
Material: Acetate | Shape: Mask frame | Polarized: No
Best for Running
Nike Show X3 Sunglasses
Nike’s Show X3 sunglasses are the epitome of performance wear. Whether you’re an avid runner, competing in races, or a novice simply hitting the trails for fun, the wraparound sunglasses are designed with function at the forefront. From the strategically-placed anti-fog holes for ventilation to the lightweight design made from at least 40% castor bean oil, they’re meant to enhance your workout. However, thanks to the sleek silhouette, wearers don’t have to forgo style for practicality.
Price at time of publish: $179
Material: Acetate (derived from at least 40% castor bean oil) | Shape: Wraparound | Polarized: No
Best for Hiking
Knockaround Fast Lanes Polarized Sunglasses
This affordable and polarized pair has classic D-shape frames with FDA-approved polarized lenses that block 99% to 100% of harmful UVA and UVB radiation. Translation: it offers great protection to your eyes and skin against harsh rays, which in turn helps decrease eye strain and cut glare while on the trails. Plus, it comes with a protective pouch to keep them from scratching when you’re not wearing them.
Price at time of publish: $28
Material: Acetate | Shape: D-Frame | Polarized: Yes
Westward Leaning Pioneer 2.1
If you’re not familiar with Westward Leaning, the heritage eyewear brand has a rich history in performance design. Its earliest collections contained many sport-focused styles that prioritize function over fashion. However, in recent years, it's been leaning into trends to bring consumers stylish eyewear that’s practical, too. An example is a line of polarized sunglasses that includes this Pioneer 2.1 pair. Made from glossy acetate, they’re accented with matte gold-tone metal details at the sides for a luxe look.
Price at time of publish: $185
Material: Acetate with gold-tone hardware | Shape: Cat-eye | Polarized: Yes
Kimeze Damba Crystal-Embellished Sunglasses
For a cat-eye with a little more oomph, Kimeze has you covered with its signature Damba style. The glamorous, black acetate silhouette is highlighted with a row of bezel-set crystals. The gray lenses offer complete UV protection, so your eyes will be protected against harmful rays. However, they aren’t polarized, so you may have to contend with a bit of glare on clear and sunny days.
Price at time of publish: $340
Material: Acetate | Shape: Cat-eye | Polarized: No
Best for Small Faces
Sunski Avila Black Slate Sunglasses
For those with smaller faces, finding a pair of sunglasses that fit properly is no easy task. You have to be sure they don’t slip off when you wear them or engulf your face if it’s an oversized shape. Sunski’s round-frame Avila sunglasses with matte-black trim are what you should be shopping for. There are no sharp angles that could come off as harsh or overpowering, but it still has a distinct shape and will give your eyes complete coverage and protection.
Price at time of publish: $68
Material: Acetate | Shape: Round | Polarized: Yes
Best for Oval Faces
JB3 Bellagio Sunglasses
People with oval-shaped faces should go for oversized, round shapes to balance out the length of an oval face,” says founder JB Mariano. However, if you’re not looking for a John Lennon vibe, rectangular-shaped sunglasses with rounded edges like this JB3 pair are a great alternative. Inspired by the Italian lakeside town Bellagio in Lake Como, these sunglasses of the same name are made from durable acetate with UV-protected lenses.
Price at time of publish: $185
Material: Acetate | Shape: Rectangle | Polarized: No
Best for Round Faces
Illesteva Anastasia Sunglasses
Meanwhile, these Anastasia sunglasses from Illesteva are inspired by the 1950s and are great for round faces. The oversized silhouette and square frame ooze Old Hollywood glamor. “People with round faces should aim for a square or rectangle frame and should definitely avoid round frames,” explains Mariano. “These will add definition to a rounder face shape.”
Price at time of publish: $240–$620
Material: Acetate | Shape: Square-frame | Polarized: No
Poppy Lissiman Caidyn Sunglasses
Designed to stay on during high-intensity activities, wraparound sunglasses are a sporty silhouette, not inspired by the runway but by styles you’d find at your local gas station or worn by dads at their children’s soccer tournaments. But if you’re looking for a more sleek pair that you can wear with just about anything, Poppy Lissiman’s Caidyn sunglasses are a great place to start. They’re made from acetate with a matte black finish and can be dressed up and down depending on your style and your needs.
Price at time of publish: $95
Material: Acetate | Shape: Wraparound | Polarized: No
Ray Ban’s Wayfarer Stories sunglasses are so classic and cool, but their “smart” feature sets them apart from the rest. With its ability to take photos, record videos, play music, send a message, or even make a call, you won’t miss a beat and you can stay relatively hands-free. Le Specs oval sunglasses are a close second for their elevated look for a reasonable price.
What to Look for When Buying Sunglasses
Brooks and her co-founder Reagan Zimmerer explain that knowing your face shape is the first step to finding your perfect pair. “Surprisingly, not many people know their actual face shape,” they say. “The easiest way to figure out your face shape is by looking at your jawline. If you have a rounded jawline, you probably have an oval or round face. If your jawline is more angular, you likely have a square, rectangular, or heart-shaped face.” According to them, anyone with an oval-shaped face can wear a variety of styles, while round faces will look great in frames that have sharp angular lines for a juxtaposition of sorts. And by that logic, too, more angular face shapes will look best in oval frames or cat eyes.
The purpose of polarized lenses is to eliminate the amount of reflecting light hitting the eye, “which in turn increases clarity and comfort,” Mariano explains. This in turn can ameliorate color perception, decrease light sensitivity, and thus, diminish overall eye fatigue.
According to Brooks and Zimmerer, a solid acetate, hinge, and lens combination truly goes a long way. High-quality sunglasses on the market are made using hardened acetate for durability over time, which is a synthetic material that labels use as an alternative to plastic, while sleeker styles are made of metal and wire. Beyond that, the weight of your sunglasses, as well as the details and hardware used, are also important to consider, as you want to feel comfortable in them.
How do you choose sunglasses for your face shape?
While Brooks and Zimmerer have a clear methodology for choosing sunglasses styles, Mariano believes the process is subjective and that shoppers should buy whichever style makes them the most confident. Though, it’s not lost on him that the face shape determines how certain styles will fit.
There are four main face shapes: oval, round, heart, and square. Each of them is often best complimented by contrasting silhouettes. Round faces are best suited for square, angular frames while square faces “should go for round frames for the same reason; they naturally counteract each other,” says Mariano. Meanwhile, heart-shaped faces look best in shapes that somewhat mimic the face shape, such as cat eyes or aviators, while oval faces often look great in round frames.
Another step in finding a pair that fits properly is determining the distance between each lens often found on the inside of one of the arms. “The smaller that is, the smaller nose you have to have for the frames to fit correctly on your face,” he says.
How do you clean sunglasses?
Contrary to popular belief, Brooks and Zimmerer explain that the hem of your shirt or sweater isn’t a good way to clean your sunglasses. They clean theirs with a slightly damp, microfiber cloth. “If you have a lens cleaning spray, that can work as well,” they say. If you have a particularly stubborn area you need to clean, you can use lukewarm water, a dash of hand soap, and a clean soft towel, Mariano adds. A little will go a long way.
Can you remove scratches from sunglasses?
Mariano says that there are a few home remedies that he uses to remove scratches from sunglasses. For scratch prevention, “we recommend cleaning the lenses and frames after each use,” he says. This will help eliminate any buildup of debris that could cause scratches.
If your lenses have been lightly scratched, however, Mariano says to cover them in a mix of baking soda and water to diminish the appearance. “Combining the two makes a sort of paste that you can cover each lens with and then wipe away with very gentle pressure,” he says. If you don’t have baking soda, Brooks and Zimmerer suggest a toothpaste trick for a similar effect. “This trick will definitely not remove deep scratches,” they say. “So, you should be careful with your favorite frames and store them in their cases or pouches [when you’re not wearing them].”
Why Trust Byrdie
Shelby Ying Hyde is a Byrdie contributor who writes for Harper's Bazaar, Refinery29, The Cut Shop, and more. Before entering the editorial world, she worked as a product copywriter for luxury e-commerce companies, Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi where she became well-versed in fits, fabrics, and other unique selling points that make a fashion item special. For this story, she considered dozens of black sunglasses on the market and spoke to three industry insiders.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough black sunglasses from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.