Besides protecting the eyes and the sensitive skin around them from damaging UV rays, sunglasses have always been a key player in summer fashion. In our year-round summer weather, sunglasses are essential and beyond serving a purely practical purpose, sunglasses are also a style staple. Whether you’re beach bound or if it’s for work-wear, sunglasses transform your look. They give you instant attitude — in one pair you may look very glamorous and very red carpet, whereas in another you might look a bit more vintage and feminine. Some frames can also make you look a little bit more athletic or modern or minimalist.
As far as sunglasses go for the spring/summer 2012 fashion season, a lot of classics are given a twist — really familiar shapes have been tweaked and restyled to make them look new and contemporary.
If you’re not really the trend-following type, classics that can never go wrong include wayfarers (the style James Dean made so popular) and aviators (think Tom Cruise in Top Gun). The choice of metals for rims have also been updated — forget silver, guys, it’s gold and bronze that you should gun for. Patterns such as cheetah also provide a new spin on traditional animal-inspired neutrals such as tortoise shell.
For women, vintage-inspired styles such as cat eyes are still going strong, especially in bright colours and pastel tones, which are big trends in clothing this spring. 1950s and 60s-inspired geometric styles such as octagonal or hexagonal shapes, especially in transparent materials, are also big. Ombre frames, with a darker shade at the top fading into a lighter hue at the bottom, are also popular.
What separates men’s and women’s frames is a matter of personal choice — very few styles only work for one or the other. That said, you can chase trends all you want, but the best way to find the right pair is to try them on and see if the style flatters your face. And while face shape does have a bearing on the style of sunglasses you buy, there are also other factors to consider, like the identity of your look, what other things you like to wear, your spirit and your attitude.
For a good physical fit, check that the sunglasses fit the bridge of your nose and the width of your temple. They should feel stable on your face, and you should be able to move your head up, down, forward and back without them moving. When it comes to size, bigger still tends to be better, but keep scale in mind if you have a smaller face — there’s an important distinction to be made between large sunglasses and face-eating sunglasses.
As for the UV protection rating, consider what sort of usage you’ll be getting out of them. If you’ll only be wearing them when you drive, you probably don’t need as much UV protection as you do if you’re out walking, running or riding your bicycle or motorcycle.
This article appeared on the Live it! page, The Edge Financial Daily, May 14, 2012.