Are you in the market for a new pair of sunglasses? As long as the sun is shining, they’re always appropriate. In fact, few accessories rival the understated cool factor that a great pair of sunnies affords. Even the simplest silhouette can perk up a haphazard look that we’re sometimes prone to.
What styles are going to be big this season? Aviator shapes aren't going anywhere, stylist Danyuyl Brown says, while exaggerated, ‘60s- and ‘70s-inspired silhouettes are back on fashion people’s radar. (Think back to Gloria Steinem's signature look.) Almost anything from Celine is also safe, given the label’s simple and, thus, timeless appeal.
Armored with the expertise of Brown and Dr. Tina Kalas, a Chicago-based optometrist, we rounded up the best sunglasses brands to help you stylishly protect your peeps from the sun.
Below, the best sunglasses brands to shop now and forever.
The attractive sunnies from this brand, which draws its name from the French verb aperçevoir (“to perceive”), have the power to make even a pair of baggy denim pants look glamorous. The label uses sartorial insights of classic French street style to design its frames. It also offers cool collaborations with an international crowd, like Oumayma Elboumeshouli and Laurence Fortin-Côté, for an inherently diverse selection.
A BETTER FEELING
This London-based brand is all about conversation pieces. A BETTER FEELING offers a wide range of unisex styles in bold color options and unconventional silhouettes. They’re great for wearers looking to make a strong statement with their shades.
Bôhten is a Ghana-based label that offers an array of styles in color combinations inspired by African culture. Eco-conscious shoppers should also know that the brand prioritizes the use of sustainable materials in each of its designs.
At Bonnie Clyde, you’ll find playful pairs with colorful lenses that you can rely on. After all, the label has roots in the eyewear industry; several decades ago, the founder’s parents started a small eyewear company based in Santee Alley, the famed flea market of the city’s fashion district.
“[Celine] sunglasses don’t disappoint,” Kalas says. The heritage brand’s offerings are both high-quality and very chic. Since its styles are so simple and classic, they won’t go out of style, making them a great eyewear investment.
Mirroring the colors of the city in which the brand is based, Etnia’s frames are made of lurid hues, bold patterns, and innovative shapes from a mix of materials, including natural acetate and hypoallergenic metal. Some of the brand’s thinner frames feel “almost weightless,” according to Kalas.
For your pick of minimalist, maximalist, and everything-in-between sunglasses, there’s Garrett Leight. The label offers many silhouettes, from sharp cat eyes to wiry aviators, to meet your every need.
Illesteva challenges classic silhouettes with its creative color combinations and forward-thinking approach to design. Since launching in 2010, the label has collaborated with creative figures like Lou Reed and Rashida Jones for collections, all of which are handmade in Italy and France.
With roots in sunny New Orleans and designs inspired by the city’s spirit, Krewe’s shades are as well-made as they are creatively crafted. Another plus: Krewe has great customer service. Its Second Chances program offers customers one free replacement in the event that a pair is damaged.
Even if you don’t have travel plans for the foreseeable future, these frames will make you feel like you’ve escaped to the Brazilian countryside, where Lapima is based. Founders Gisela and Gustavo Assis use the landscape to inspire their vibrant designs.
Since the late ’70s, Le Specs has been making stylish shades at approachable price points. The brand has some impressive collaborations under its belt, including ones with acclaimed designers Adam Selman, Christian Cowan, and Jordan Askill. And given its cult following, you’ve probably seen several celebrities, from Gigi Hadid to Meghan Markle, wearing the designs as well.
It’s all about opulence at Linda Farrow, with ‘60s- and ’70s-inspired silhouettes and gold-trimmed aviators making up most of its offerings. The label is essentially tenured, having been established decades ago and favored by legends like Yoko Ono. It’s run today by Farrow’s son, Simon Jablon, who keeps the integrity of the brand well intact.
Nostalgia is the name of the game for Dani Drasin, the Los Angeles native who founded Lula Pace. Drasin grew up in the ‘90s and became captivated by the heroines in the films of David Lynch and Sofia Coppola. She offers two collections—one with original designs and another that’s curated with second-hand luxury eyewear.
Nroda brings on the glitz and the glam with its fine metal and crystal-embellished frames. The affordable unisex styles are handcrafted in New York City and inspired by eyewear once worn by Gianni Versace and the members of Migos.
“I’m recommending this brand to my athletes, be they professionals or hobbyists,” says Kalas. “Oakley has a great range of tints designed for your visual needs in each sport.” The brand is known for its wrap-around silhouettes, which offer the most overall eye protection from ultraviolet rays.
If you’re looking for a sleek silhouette with a futuristic edge, Percy Lau is for you. The innovative designs of the Hong Kong-based brand have been favored for years by celebrities like Lady Gaga.
Who hasn’t heard of Ray-Ban? While talk can be cheap, Kalas assures that the brand’s unisex frames live up to the years of hype. “[They] fit any face shape and will always make a statement.” Given that they’re universally flattering, it’s difficult to go wrong with a purchase from the brand.
If you’re a fan of Kendall Jenner’s style, then this brand is for you. The California-based brand focuses on a minimalist aesthetic to go with most of your looks. The model has worn the Bertram style in Coffee Black several times, although the label has a wide range of silhouettes, like aviators and keyhole styles, to choose from.
What to Look for When Buying Sunglasses
“As a rule of thumb, the longer the face, the greater the vertical depth of the lens [should be],” says Kalas, who prefers not to delve into the intricacies of more detailed face shape analyses. “The shorter the face, the lesser the vertical depth of the lenses.” By contrast, if you have a round face shape, she suggests choosing a frame with vertically narrow lenses to create the illusion of a longer face.
In terms of proportions, “sunglasses that are too big for your face will hide all of your beautiful features and overwhelm you,” Brown says. Though, from a health perspective, the bigger the sunglasses, the more protected your eyes will likely be. “This might be going against some trends, but from an eye health perspective, it offers more protection from the sun,” Kalas says.
What are polarized sunglasses?
Put simply, polarized sunglasses reduce the glare from surfaces like a shiny car hood or a puddle of water (and, contrary to popular belief, have nothing to do with blocking ultraviolet rays). “This in turn results in clearer vision, less eye fatigue, and better color perception,” Kalas explains.
If you’re wondering if your current sunglasses are polarized, there’s a way to find out: Hold them up to an LED screen and rotate them. If the screen viewed through the sunglasses turns darker or black, then yes, they’re polarized.
How does the size of your bridge play a role in choosing sunglasses?
Bridge size and shape play an important role in the fit and, therefore, the look and feel of the frames. A pair of sunglasses with a well-fitted bridge area will help to keep the sunglasses from sliding off your face. The benefit of metal frames with nose pads (as opposed to plastic ones) is that they’re adjustable, so those with a small bridge can safely opt for frames with nose pads, according to Kalas.
How do you measure sunglasses lens size?
For prescription sunglasses, have your local optometrist or optician take your measurements. One of the main measurements they’ll take is your pupillary distance or the distance between your eyes. This tells the makers “where to center the prescription in the lenses to give the clearest vision,” Kalas says.
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. After hours of researching and chatting with our experts, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which brands are worth buying this season.