Finding the perfect pair of sunglasses must surely rate among the most stressful of all the sartorial quests. Much like finding a pair of jeans that actually fits or a flattering and still stylish swimsuit.
And the stakes feel high. After all, sunglasses are one of the first things people notice, and they also function as a look’s final flourish: an exclamation point at the end of the outfit that can both pull it together and dramatically shift its tone.
No wonder sunglasses shopping prompts the kind of existential crisis usually reserved for much more significant purchasing decisions. (“Are cat-eyes actually me, though? Am I a tortoiseshell person or am I a leopard print person?”).
So, this week we tapped the experts – the people who witness the sunglasses struggle on a daily basis – Todd Aitken of cult eyewear boutique ONEPOINTSEVENFOUR, Rose Crulli of Che Eyewear and Lex Duff of Bailey Nelson.
How to choose sunglasses for your face shape
“Eyewear is no different to other clothing items or accessories – you see it, you want it, you buy it in your size and if it works you win, if it doesn’t, no sweat,” says Todd Aitken, manager and optician at Sydney’s very stylish eyewear boutique ONEPOINTSEVENFOUR.
Something those of us who have long dispensed with What Not To Wear-style decrees about dressing ‘pear’ and ‘hourglass’ figures will be happy to hear, is that the typical rules about what sunglasses suit oval, square or heart-shaped faces can be thought of more as general guidelines than hard and fast rules. “My advice? Shop the style you’re vibing, use your current eyewear to ascertain and buy in your approximate size.”
Use ‘basic’ guiding principles
Rose Crulli, of Melbourne’s family-owned Che Eyewear agrees that there are some guiding principles. For example, “If you have a square face, you would put a curve on it to balance it, and if you have an oval face, you put angles on it, to balance it.”
“But,” she adds, “in actual fact, I like to go by personalities and styles. I think moods come into colours, and so forth.”
While Bailey Nelson’s Lex Duff agrees that “that the pair that works best on your face is the pair you like the most!”, she adds that there are a few guidelines that can help:
Oval faces: “Oval faces with prominent cheekbones and a wider forehead are in luck! Oval face shapes can suit pretty much any frame, but you might want to consider an upswept and angular frame for balance.”
Round faces: “Round faces are widest at the cheeks, and your face height and width are similar. Here, rectangle, angular or square frames will contrast your face shape.”
Square faces: “This is defined by your forehead and chin being almost the same widths, with a square and defined jawline. We’d suggest rounder frames, as well as cat-eye styles.”
Heart-shaped faces: “These faces tend towards a pointy chin and defined jaw, with a longer and broader forehead. Oversized, square and rounded frames all work well.”
Diamond faces: Widest at the cheekbones, with a narrow jaw and chin, diamond-shaped faces suit semi-rimless and metal frames to contrast your features.”
Forget face shape. Focus on fit
All three sunglasses experts were in agreement over one thing: as well as how a pair of sunglasses makes you feel and how they suit your face shape, it’s really about how they fit.
“Whether it be sunglasses or spectacles, people aren’t really aware of the importance of the fit,” explains Crulli. “They’re thinking of the style but not actually thinking of how that style is supposed to sit so that it looks amazing and you actually get the effect that you’re going for. I think if something fits well, it’s going to look great regardless.”
Crulli explains that two areas to pay particular attention to when it comes to fit are the bridge and at the temples: a good fit there will ensure your shades aren’t slipping off and sitting at the correct place on your face. Essentially, there’s a world of difference between a pair of oversized but well-fitting sunglasses and sunglasses that are simply too large for the face they’re gracing.
The Bailey Nelson team concurred. “Considering we’re heading into summer and sunglasses become much more of a staple, having sunglasses that slide on your face or sit too low on your nose bridge will become annoying very quickly. When you come into Bailey Nelson, not only do you get your eyes tested but we take your measurements to make sure your frames fit perfectly.”
Aikten stressed the importance of “mak[ing] sure you’re wearing them and they’re not wearing you,” when it comes to sunglasses.
A simple litmus test he offered for ensuring overall proportion and balance: “take a step back and imagine you’re walking towards yourself on the street, no matter the style you should be seen first. If you saw you would you be too distracted by the face furnishing to engage in a natural conversation?”
Armed with the new rules of sunglass selecting, the next logical step is acquiring your frames for the season. But what’s the forecast?
The look for 2021
“Trends that we definitely see coming around the corner are those that lean into real detail and craftsmanship (people want to feel luxe after lockdown), a bold cat-eye (it never goes out of style), unique colour-ways for frames and that real ‘90s style,” explains Duff.
On the runways this year, bold colours, chunky oversized ‘70s and ‘80s silhouettes and tinted lenses were popular, but Crulli points out that Covid has thrown production schedules out, which means that last seasons styles are still lingering in shops.
Whether your intentions are subtle or statement, the expert sunglass selection below will, hopefully, have you sorted.
(And those sunglasses in the main holding shot? You can find them at Poppy Lissiman)
Recommendations from Rose Crulli of Che Eyewear:
This Karen Walker sunglass offers a classic style with a contemporary edge. Its subtle uplift provides a feminine feel and its alternative bridge fit is best suited to faces with a narrow/low nose bridge.
Lukie, by AM Eyewear, is quite versatile as I feel it would suit the majority of face shapes, and compliment most outfits.
These sunglasses are exclusive to our store as it is part of our Vintage collection, produced in the early ‘90s. It is suitable for a wider face and a wider nose bridge.
This ‘90s inspired sunglass is from LeSpecs latest collection. It’s another easy to wear style that suits most faces and is a great addition to anyone’s wardrobe.
Recommendations from Todd Aitken of ONEPOINTSEVENFOUR:
How you wear round sunglasses like these Mykita x Margiela Craft 016 is subjective – [you can try] oversized iris Apfel on a petite face or on a broader brow petite little John Lennon specs.
These Jacques Marie Mage, Enzo frames are inspired by Enzo Ferrari’s signature sunglass look and they’re worn by Cindy Crawford and LeBron.
Rick Owens Shielding – A fusion of sport and high fashion, this is an example of owning a strong statement transcends all rules, anyone who wants to can rock these.
These G.O.D Four sunglases are a slim rectangle built bold, suited to the attitude-rich who prefer their shades worn down the nose with a cheeky eyebrow raise.
The Briar in Sangria Tort is a modern cat-eye style that’s well suited to wider face shapes.
The Margot in Cookies and Cream, features an exaggerated cat-eye would suit squarer faces.
The Milan in Onyx’s angular lines can add balance to rounder features.
The Bessie in Antique Tort offers an aviation-inspired silhouette ideal for those with smaller faces after a perfectly oversized look.