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Sunglasses can be one of the most affordable accessories to buy. You can find decent pairs at your local drug store, Target, Walmart, or, well, just about anywhere. But much like handbags, there’s just something extra special about designer sunglasses. The quality, the shape, the fit, and the longevity of the glasses are just that much better. But investing in a pair that makes the most sense for your style, wardrobe, and lifestyle can be a little intimidating. That’s why it’s best to do a bit of research and self-reflection before handing over your credit card.
“You want to make sure the frames work for your sight, and you also want to make sure they look great on you,” says stylist Colleen Lunsford. “They must be comfortable on your face so you will be inclined to wear them and make the investment worth it.”
Meet the Expert
If you’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on an item that most people will see when they look at you, you might as well make sure they’re perfect for you.
Read on to discover the best designer sunglasses on the market right now, as well as more expertise from Lunsford.
Best Overall: Tory Burch 53 mm Cat Eye Sunglasses
Classic, always-in-style sunglasses are going to look different to everyone, but it’s hard to go wrong with this subtle cat-eye shape. Combine that with the price point and the positive customer reviews, and these are a great option for an elevated pair of sunglasses that’s great for everyday wear.
Colors: Black, tortoise | Dimensions: 53mm lens width; 19mm bridge width; 140mm temple length
Best Timeless: Celine Triomphe 54mm Oval Sunglasses
These sunglasses look like they would have fit in with the styles and fashions of virtually any of the decades of the last 50 years, making them an excellent timeless choice for designer sunglasses.
Colors: Brown, pink | Dimensions: 52mm lens width; 22mm bridge width; 145mm temple length
Best Polarized: Moncler 57mm Polarized Aviator Sunglasses
With 100 percent UV protection and CR-39 polarized lenses, you know these Moncler aviators will keep your eyes protected (and keep you looking chic, too).
Colors: Gunmetal | Dimensions: 57mm lens width; 15mm bridge width; 145mm temple length
Best Aviator: Oliver Peoples 58mm Airedale Aviator Sunglasses
When in doubt, go with aviators. This style of sunglasses is incredibly classic and looks great on a variety of face shapes. Oliver Peoples is known for luxury eyewear, too, so you can’t go wrong.
Colors: Gold | Dimensions: 58mm lens width; 15mm bridge width; 145mm temple length
Best Round: SALT. Pierce 51mm Polarized Round Sunglasses
These sunglasses, created by Japanese brand SALT., featured a rounded frame and polarized lenses for a modern yet timeless feel.
Colors: Brown, Black | Dimensions: 51mm lens width; 19mm bridge width; 148mm temple
Best Rectangle: CELINE 51mm Studded Rectangle Sunglasses
Who says rectangle sunglasses have to be boring? While there are many options for rectangle-shaped sunglasses that are a bit more simple than this studded version, these are pretty excellent too. If you’re going to put down major cash for a pair of sunnies, having them stand out isn’t a bad idea.
Colors: Black, clear | Dimensions: 51mm lens width; 21mm bridge width; 140mm temple length
Best Square: Gucci 51mm Square Sunglasses
If you’re in search of square sunglasses that are subtle but still unmistakably designer, Gucci is always a good option. The chunky frame of this pair makes a statement and also provides a lot of face coverage if you’re looking for optimal face protection.
Colors: Black | Dimensions: 51mm lens width; 15mm bridge width; 140mm temple
Best Oval: Alaia 50mm Butterfly Sunglasses
The oval sunglasses that were so popular in the ’90s are 100 percent back. If you’re looking for a pair with some edgier (yet still subtle) details, this pair from Alaia could fit the bill.
Colors: Black, Pink | Dimensions: 50mm lens width; 16mm bridge width; 148mm temple length
Best Oversized: Chloe 63mm Gradient Oversize Round Sunglasses
These sunglasses are big, but that’s kind of the point. Plus, the gradient of the lens means that a little more of your face pokes through than some other more opaque lenses.
Colors: Gold | Dimensions: 63mm lens width; 16mm bridge width; 140mm temple length
Best ‘90s: Off-White Arthur Sunglasses
It doesn’t get much more ’90s than these chunky, square, narrow sunglasses from Off-White, founded by the late Virgil Abloh. Pair with some straight-leg, loose jeans or dad jeans, and you’ve got a great throwback look.
Colors: Black | Dimensions: 142mm lens width; 20mm bridge width; 150mm temple length
Best Statement: Dior 63mm Oversize Cat Eye Sunglasses
The shape of these sunglasses is a statement in and of itself, but the colored lenses add another degree of uniqueness on top of that. Plus, their oversized fit means absolutely no one is going to look past these.
Colors: Gold/blue, gold/green, gold/violet | Dimensions: 63mm lens width; 14mm bridge width; 135mm temple length
What to Look for in Designer Sunglasses
Like most designer items, it’s important to consider what details matter to you when shopping for sunglasses. According to Lunsford, “The first and most important thing to look for in designer sunglasses: Do they check all the boxes for you?”
Lunsford says that as a stylist, considering how items work into a client’s life, wardrobe, and personality is key. Sunglasses shopping should be no different.
“Designer sunglasses are an investment so it's important that they are a classic style (and not a fleeting trend) that will be timeless and last you for a long time,” Lunsford explains. “You will want to make sure they complement the shape of your face, enhance your natural features, and are in a great color or neutral to your skin tone.”
Shape and Size
Another important step in shopping for designer sunglasses is making sure they actually complement your face shape. It might be obvious, but it’s worth it, Lunsford says.
“Make sure to try them on before purchasing. Buying designer sunglasses online can be tricky because they may look great on the model wearing them in the picture, but everyone's facial features and shapes are different, so they may look a lot different on you,” Lunsford says. “You want to make sure the frames work for your sight and make sure they look great on you. They must be comfortable on your face so you will be inclined to wear them and make the investment worth it.”
What are polarized sunglasses?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, polarized lenses feature a special chemical that filters light. The final result is that what you’re looking at appears crisper and clearer, which is exactly why so many fishers, boaters, and cold-weather sports enthusiasts use them (the polarized lenses eliminate the reflection off the water or snow).
Are designer sunglasses worth it?
According to Lunsford, it depends. The more features a pair of sunglasses has, the more it will be worth it. “Often, designer or investment sunglasses will offer UV protection lenses. This is worth the investment as it protects your eyes from harmful rays. Designer sunglasses can be considered a splurge purchase, but with proper care, these glasses can last you for many years. If you look and feel great in your sunglasses, this will exude confidence within, leading you to feel good and be more productive.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, versatility, and style.