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Sunglasses buyer's guide: Shape, color & details

We all have had the predicament of spending hours in our local department store trying on various styles of shades, peering into narrow mirrors... and finding nothing that looks right on us. Sunglasses are a good idea year-round, but as we are stocking up on sunscreen in preparation for the summer glare, it's an extra important time to protect our eyes. The key is finding the perfect style.

Woman putting on sunglasses

"Sunglasses are the height of fashion, and are showing no sign of slowing down. They have been a real traffic-puller for retailers as consumers look to emulate celebrities -- and more importantly, protect their eyes from ultraviolet rays, glare and sunlight," says Sara Rogers, the trend specialist for Minnesota's grand Mall of America.

 

Selecting a shape
Jackie "Sunglasses are a hot topic now, because they have changed. Large Jackie Kennedy styles are really in now," says Sandy Dumont of (TheImageArchitect.com). Indeed, style icon and First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis (shown at right) is credited for popularizing the oversized sunglasses look back in the sixties.

Rogers suggests that when choosing glasses, the general consensus is that the shape of the frame should contrast with the shape of the face. "The size of the sunglasses should be in proportion to face size, i.e. small frames for the small face, and larger frames for larger faces." Sara says that for her own small, oval-shaped face, she had problems during the oversized trend to find glasses that did not overwhelm her.

But, Dumont says, "Avoid square frames -- they look too severe. Choose frames that have a slight roundness at the outer edges, both top and bottom. Sunglasses with wide arms are very fashionable now, and they also look dynamic."

Even with the best guidance, sometimes finding the perfect look is tough. "I've tried following different advice about finding the right shape for my face -- depending on who's looking at it, I'm heart-shaped or square -- and found that sometimes the glasses you think are the least-likely to look good on you, actually do," says SheKnows style expert Mary Jo Matsumoto. "For example, somehow this year I ended up with a pair of slightly oversized wrap glasses that sit on part of my face, and yet are amazingly complementary. They are also a deep wine color -- not a pair I would've envisioned myself buying."

Jessica Trent agrees that when choosing shades, it may take a little searching to find the right pair, because everyone needs to account for individual face shape. "That's why your friend's sunglasses may look fab on her but awful on someone else." She maintains that they are an important accessory item, so you should really make the effort to do it right.

Can't pick just one? It's fine to have several pairs, to match your various looks, outfits, moods -- or simply your needs. Says Trent, "I have amber-tinted lenses for driving in dreary weather."

Kelly

Choosing a color
If you only get one pair of these big sexy-looking sunglasses, get a pair in black, Dumont says. "They are the most versatile, because they go with everything and look very sexy and fashionable."

Whitney Fajnor, marketing manager at Minimus, however, recommends looking for brown frames if your skin is pale. "Black frames and pale skin can look too drastic," she says.

Dumont suggests that sunglass fanatics should pick frames that make a nice contrast to their hair. "That's why blondes look so good in black frames, and redheads look fabulous in blue or green frames," she says. "If you have dark brown or black hair, white frames will show off your hair the most."

She says a good second choice could be a pair of white sunglasses, because they have a "high-fashion" look and make a great impact. What color is your world?
"Some people just have a personal preference as to what color lens they like to look through, like 'seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses,'" says Jessica Trent, of Soda Sunglasses (www.sodasunglasses.com). "Some prefer to gaze through a bronze lens, others prefer a really dark grey lens all the time."

MICHAEL

Trent says gradient or "the fade lens" (as shown on the Michael Kors Rimless Aviator Sunglasses at right) comes and goes with trends. "I like them on women, especially because they almost mimic eye makeup," she says. They offer darker coloration above your lid and your eye, but a lighter shade below. They are also easy to wear indoors.

Whitney Fajnor, marketing manager at Minimus, says, "I got my first pair of polarized sunglasses for Christmas, and now I can never go back!" Polarized lenses diffuse glare through the use of a polarizing filter that is usually layered within the lens. This allows better clarity in even severe conditions.

 

sunglasses TIP: Soda Sunglasses' Jett Sett style is a plastic monolens available with polarized lenses for about $100.

 

From a technical standpoint, Trent says bronze lenses are best for hazy days, as they provide a visible contrast in that sort of weather. Grey lenses are nice on really bright days, providing a bit more relief to your eyes because they offer more shade. "Polarized lenses are what I personally prefer all the time," says Trent. Polarized lenses cut down on reflection and glare like nothing else, and come in grey/smoke (the best all-'round color), bronze (increases definition without hugely affecting color) and amber (which blocks blue light).

"I like [polarized lenses] because they diffuse the glare on black pavement when driving -- and if you are at the beach or on a boat, look through a pair of these lenses and you'll actually see through the water a good bit."

Don't forget about photochromic lenses -- these glasses are light in the shade, but get dark in the sun -- and were first big in the 70s. "There is new, better technology with them now. They are great for people who love wearing their shades all the time, as the lens changes with the level of darkness."

Details, details
Armani Rogers says that while oversized glasses are still in demand, the current trend is dramatic temples, as seen on this pair from Armani. "Shield and sleek wraparound styles made of resin are on point in terms of style," she adds.

Sunglasses, says Rogers, make a statement about you and are an indicator of your personality, attitude and sense of style. And unlike the cost of other true designer accessories, sunglasses are often affordable enough to offer a way for almost any woman to make a fashion statement. "For many people, they represent an opportunity to step into the world of high fashion at a fraction of the price, compared to other luxury goods."

See more of this article series with the links above!

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