Which Shades to Pick?

Like so many other great ideas, sunglasses were invented in China and came to Europe with Marco Polo. Initially, they were used to hide one’s eyes and thoughts. It wasn’t until the mid-1700s that they joined hats and umbrellas as sun protection. In the early 20th Century, sunglasses really took off with sun-struck beach-goers and, in the 21st Century, both protection and fashion are equally important.

Modern shades may be marketed under several monikers: “Designer sunglasses” feature the trendiest styles, the highest quality and, usually, the highest price. “Fashion sunglasses” also feature great style, but without the name-brand price. “Sport sunglasses” can be very stylish, but their primary purpose is eye protection and form follows function.

Where fashion is concerned, you can wear any style, but specific styles enhance certain facial types, making a fashion statement that everybody will hear. In the final analysis, however, there are just two questions to ask about dark shades: Do you like the style? Do they compliment your face? If so, they are the right glasses for you.

Suit the shades to fit the features

Though many men are into brand name designer accessories, fact is that women tend to care more about clothing accessories and fashion. So, while the following guidelines refer primarily to ladies, most of the advice is equally applicable to gentlemen. Where sunglasses are concerned, specific styles work best with each of the five basic face shapes. The goal is balance — wear sunglasses that are what your face is not:

The square faced woman / the strong-jawed man

Epitomized by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s, she wore oversized sunglasses, popularizing a style still frequently often called the Jackie O. For women, the curvier styles, round or cat’s eye, will compliment your angular features. Men usually want a more strong-jawed appearance rather than less, so enhance the effect by wearing sunglasses with sharp angles.

The heart faced woman / the triangular faced man

To balance a wide forehead and narrow chin, choose sunglasses with cat’s eye frames or any with well-rounded edges; fashion sunglasses with a wider lower edge and no straight lines along the top work especially well.

The long or oblong face

Round or rectangular lenses in oversized frames are much recommended. Sunglasses with thick frames add width; tall or deep lenses and fashion sunglasses with decorative frames or vintage style also fit.

The round face

On a face with the most noticeable curves, sunglasses should have fewest. Narrow frames, frames with high temples and very colorful frames, like the classic tortoise-shell style, also add definition.

The oval face

Gently rounded curves work with virtually any style from dollar store to designer; those that look best are sunglasses which cover from the eyebrows to the cheekbones.

The first real sunglasses fashion statement was an accident. Aviator style shades were created for the military just before World War II and the glamour of the ‘ace’ included his fashion accessories. Those who couldn’t fly could still try to look cool in mirrored, teardrop-shaped sunglasses. Today’s aviator sunglasses make great accessories for almost any face, male or female.

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