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Types of Men’s Sunglasses

There are many different types and styles of men’s sunglasses on the market today. Therefore, when deciding on a pair, it’s essential to know the different shapes, styles, lens colors, and other available features.

While we’ll go over all important details in the guide below, here’s a summary so you can quickly compare the key differences between the types of sunglasses:

Types of Men's Sunglasses
Frame ShapeOccasionFace ShapeDistinct Features
AviatorCasual to Formal WearHeart, Square, and OvalTeardrop lens shape, usually metal frame
BladeAthletic and Casual WearOval and RoundDefined brow bar, semi-rimless
ClubmasterCasual to Formal WearOval, Diamond, Square, and RoundBrow bar like wayfarers, metal-rimmed bottom
GeometricCasual WearOval or Heart-ShapedPronounced straight edges, typically metal frame
KeyholeCasual to Formal WearDepends on Lens ShapeLarge bridge opening, classic frame styles
OvalFormal WearAngularThin metal frames and small lenses
RectangleCasual to Formal WearOval, Round, or Heart-ShapedClassic style and standard features
RoundCasual to Formal WearAngularNearly perfect circular lens, usually a metal frame
ShieldCasual WearOval, Round, or Heart-ShapedOversized and bold designs
WayfarerCasual to Formal WearOval, Round, or Heart-ShapedFamous yet classic style
WraparoundOutdoor ActivitiesSquare, Rectangle, or DiamondCoverage from sides, often lightweight

Frame Shape

When shopping for sunglasses, you’ll find 11 different shapes of frames. The frame’s shape can significantly affect how they look on your face. Some styles compliment your features, while others may not be as flattering. Therefore, it’s essential to find a pair that looks great and feels comfortable.

1. Aviator

aviator sunglasses

Whether it’s Tom Cruise in “Top Gun” or Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the aviator style has been made popular by Hollywood but rightly finds its roots in aviation. The teardrop shape of the lens was designed to minimize wind interference and maximize peripheral vision for pilots (source).

Aviator sunglasses are characterized by a thin metal frame with large lenses. In addition, the frame often has a wire rim that runs along the top and bottom of the lens – sometimes referred to as a brow bar.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Heart, Square, and Oval

2. Blade

blade sunglasses

Blade sunglasses are ideal for athletic and casual wear with a distinct brow bar that is offset with a semi-rimless lens. Lenses on blade sunglasses can be either one or two pieces. Temples of the frame may wrap around (as seen in the picture above) to provide additional support and stability or they can be straight.

The adjustable nose pads provide a snug fit and prevent them from slipping down your nose during physical activity.

  • Occasion: Athletic and Casual Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval and Round

3. Clubmaster

clubmaster sunglasses

The iconic clubmaster style was popularized in the 1950s with its distinct browline and metal-rimmed bottom half of the lens. Worn by celebrities such as Bruce Willis and George Clooney along with modern-day trendsetting influencers, the clubmaster is perfect for those who want to make a statement without trying too hard.

Able to be dressed up or down, the clubmaster is a versatile style for any occasion. Plus, the sensible style works well for just about every face shape. So if you are looking for a pair of shades you’ll be able to wear for years to come, the clubmaster should be at the top of your list.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval, Diamond, Square, and Round

4. Geometric

geometric sunglasses

This trendy style is characterized by its unique and often diamond or hexagonal lens shape. One of this summer’s hottest trends among men and women.

The lenses of geometric sunglasses will vary in size from relatively small to oversized. If uncertain, go with a pair that doesn’t dominate your face. Given that these are new and trendy, they are for casual wear only.

  • Occasion: Casual Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval or Heart-Shaped

5. Keyhole

keyhole sunglasses

Another relatively new style is keyhole sunglasses. They get their name from the distinct detailing on the bridge of the sunglasses that resembles an antique keyhole.

The small cutout in the bridge allows for better airflow and prevents fogging. Additionally, the extra space makes these sunglasses quite comfortable for those with broad noses.

Lens shape varies from rounded to rectangular and can work for either angular or rounded face shapes respectively.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Depends on Lens Shape (round lens = angular face, rectangle lens = round face)

6. Oval

oval sunglasses

Remember those cool shades Morpheus wore in “The Matrix”? Well, those were oval sunglasses (without the temples of course)! The lens shape is wide and curves downward at the sides, similar to an egg. While not nearly as popular as a couple of decades ago, oval sunglasses are still stylish and provide moderate coverage.

Oval sunglasses can be worn for any occasion, but we think they work best for formal wear.

  • Occasion: Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Angular (Rectangle, Square, or Diamond)

7. Rectangle

rectangle sunglasses

As the name suggests, rectangle sunglasses are boxy and fairly simple in design. These are more classic and versatile than some of the trendier sunglasses on our list.

When buying rectangle sunglasses, it’s important to get the proportions correct. You don’t want the lens to be too large or small. A good rule of thumb is to have the frame be no wider than the widest part of your face.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval, Round, or Heart-Shaped

8. Round

round sunglasses

While rectangle sunglasses look good on round or heart-shaped faces, round sunglasses are perfect for those with more angular features. The lens shape helps soften your face’s angles and provides a more balanced look.

Round sunglasses have been around for years and were worn by style icons and celebrities such as John Lennon and Kit Harrington. This style remains a classic; and will be for years to come.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Angular

9. Shield

shield sunglasses

Shield sunglasses come in a few different varieties. You have the oversized type that is worn by celebrities, the athletic variety that cyclists and runners wear, and the classic style that is perfect for casual wear.

The shield style is defined by its large lens covering a significant portion of your face. Depending on who makes the sunglasses, you may or may not see pronounced branding. From a utilitarian perspective, shield sunglasses provide the best coverage of any other type.

  • Occasion: Casual Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval, Round, or Heart-Shaped

10. Wayfarer

wayfarer sunglasses

From John F. Kennedy to Leonardo DiCaprio, wayfarer sunglasses have been worn by some of the most iconic men in history. The style was made popular in the 1950s and has held its rightful place as a fashion staple.

The wayfarer style is defined by its squared lens shape and distinct brow bar. The lenses are large enough to provide good coverage but not so large that they are overwhelming. Most will also feature a small metal detail on each corner of the brow bar.

  • Occasion: Casual to Formal Wear
  • Ideal Face Shape: Oval, Round, or Heart-Shaped

11. Wraparound

wraparound sunglasses

Popularized by Oakley, the wraparound style is perfect for those looking for maximum sun protection – be it from the front or the sides. Perfect if you’re out on the water, driving for extended periods, or participating in other outdoor activities.

The lens shape of wraparound sunglasses is similar to shield sunglasses, but the main difference is their modest size.

  • Occasion: Outdoor Activities
  • Ideal Face Shape: Square, Rectangle, or Diamond

Frame Style

Now that you know the different types of sunglasses, it’s time to learn about the different styles of frames. The style of frame you choose should complement your face shape and the type of sunglasses you’re looking for.

  • Full Rimmed: Provides extra support and stability to the sunglasses – good for daily wear.
  • Semi-Rimless: Semi-rimless sunglasses have a frame around the top of the lens, but it’s usually held in at the bottom by a thin metal filament or wire – such as the clubmaster style. Frame still has good stability and durability. Some athletic sunglasses, such as those for cyclists, may have a rimless upper half to better view the road ahead while facing downwards.
  • Rimless: Provides an unobstructed field of view. The lenses are held in place by small metal pieces attached to the temples.

Lens Colors

sunglasses lens colors

When choosing a lens color from a major brand such as Oakley, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban, and others, you often have several options.

Each brand may recommend a particular color for a specific activity. For example, Maui Jim recommends wearing their Maui Rose lenses for fast action activities (source). In contrast, Oakley recommends their Red Iridium Polarized lenses be worn specifically for baseball, everyday wear, or driving (source).

Therefore, if buying from a major brand, check their respective recommendations. If uncertain, read the product descriptions and reviews to see if a certain lens color is better for your needs.

When it comes to non-major brands or sunglasses with generic lenses, the following guide will give you a good idea of what to expect from each lens color.

  • Gray Lenses: These are great for everyday use as they provide good contrast and reduce brightness without changing the overall color of your surroundings.
  • Brown Lenses: Expect to get good contrast and depth perception. They’re also great for everyday use as they won’t distort the colors of your surroundings.
  • Yellow Lenses: These are perfect for low-light conditions as they help to increase contrast. They’re also good for cloudy days.
  • Green Lenses: Expect reduced eye fatigue and good contrast and depth perception. They also work well for low-light and sunny conditions.
  • Red Lenses: Often found on ski goggles, red lenses cut down glare significantly to reduce eye strain.

Lens Features

sunglasses lens features

When buying sunglasses, it’s important to know the different types of lenses; here are some helpful lens features to keep in mind when shopping for your next pair of sunglasses.

  • Polarized Lenses: This should be a requirement for any new pair of sunglasses. Polarized lenses significantly reduce glare from the sun reflecting off of water, snow, and other flat surfaces. But more importantly, polarized lenses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
  • Anti-Fog Coating: Good to have if you lead an active lifestyle or live in a humid climate. An anti-fog coating will help to keep your lenses from fogging up when you transition from cold to hot conditions.
  • Mirrored Coating: Aesthetically, mirrored sunglasses have a cool look about them. Functionally, mirrored coatings also help to reduce glare by reflecting light away from the lenses.
  • Photochromic Lenses (Transitions): These automatically adjust to the amount of light they’re exposed to – getting darker in brighter conditions and lighter in darker conditions.
  • Oleophobic Coating: This coating reduces reflection on your lenses which can help to reduce eye fatigue.
  • Gradient: A gradient lens is darker at the top and gradually gets lighter towards the bottom. This is a good choice for those who spend a lot of time driving as it allows for better visibility of the dashboard.
  • Impact Resistant: A must if you live an active lifestyle or play sports. Impact-resistant lenses can take a beating without cracking or shattering.
  • Color Enhancing: In addition to polarization, color-enhancing sunglasses will help to increase the contrast and produce vivid colors.
  • Anti-Brine Coating: If you own a boat or partake in watersports, an anti-brine coating will help to prevent salt water from corroding your lenses.

Frame Features

Now that you know a little more about lens features, here are some helpful frame features to keep in mind when shopping for your next pair of sunglasses.

  • Flexible: Made from memory metal, frames can twist and bend without breaking.
  • Adjustable: Change the darkness of the lens with a simple switch. Relies on LED technology.
  • Floating: Won’t sink if they fall off while in the water.
  • Interchangeable: Some frames allow you to swap out lenses depending on the conditions.
  • Foldable: Convenient for traveling as you can easily fold them up and put them in your pocket.

Materials

sunglasses holding

From lenses to frames, sunglasses can be made from various materials. Here are some common materials used in the construction of sunglasses.

Lenses

Most lenses, even those from high-end brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, and others, are polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a shatter-resistant type of plastic, making it a good choice for those with an active lifestyle. Other lens materials include glass and acrylic.

Acrylic can scratch quite easily, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a durable pair of sunglasses. Glass lenses are scratch-resistant but can shatter if dropped or hit.

Frames

The most common frame materials are metal, plastic, and wood.

Metal frames are typically made from stainless steel or titanium. Titanium is a strong, lightweight metal that’s often used in aircraft construction.

Plastic frames are made from various materials, the most common being cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is a type of plastic that’s derived from wood pulp. It’s lightweight, hypoallergenic, and can be molded into various shapes.

Wood frames are typically made from bamboo, maple, or walnut. Wood frames have a unique look and feel that distinguishes them from other frame materials.

Conclusion

When shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, it’s important to keep in mind the different lenses and available frame features. Consider your needs and find a pair of sunglasses to provide the best protection and performance for your specific activities. With so many different options available, you’re sure to find a pair of sunglasses that you’ll love.

About Adam

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam is an expert in all things men's grooming and style. When you don't find him reading up on the latest style trends, he likes to go jogging, attempt to distinguish the differences between IPAs, and play sports with his kids.

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