Men tend to think of sunglasses as a tool, whose utilitarian purpose transcends that age-old question: can I wear these? But like a pair of jeans, the intended wearer’s proportions should be considered first. While it’s usually self-evident if a certain cut of trousers is a no-go, the subtleties that determine whether a pair of chunky aviators or squared-off wayfarers will best block the sun are more complex.
“We want the style of the frames to match your personal style and self-image as much as possible, but we also want to make sure that these glasses will suit your optical requirements,” says Trevor Kelley, who serves as VP of product for the California-based eyewear brand Salt Optics. According to Kelley, such requirements include the shape and width of the wearer’s face.
Zachary Moscot, a chief design officer and vice president at Moscot, says it’s about finding a “balanced look.”
“Typically, if you have more of a square face, you might want to offset it with a rounder frame. If you have a rounder face, you might want to offset it with a square [frame],” he tells Robb Report.
Sounds simple enough—until one considers the great diversity of human face shapes. Austin Wood, a senior stylist at Saks, has developed a helpful taxonomy around faces and frames.
In his estimation, faces can be sorted into five distinct camps: round, square, oval, heart, or diamond. Sunglasses, meanwhile, are filtered into seven categories including aviators, wayfarers, round, square, oval, rectangular, and rimless.
Wood considers aviators and oval-shaped frames to be “universal,” capable of complementing almost any face. Wayfarers, meanwhile, are best left to oval, oblong, and round faces, while round glasses conversely frame rectangular and oval-shaped faces best.
Both square and rectangular-shaped frames are a lock for rounded faces, with the former shape also applicable to ovals. Lastly, the understated nature of a pair of rimless glasses is ideal for those with square countenances.
“A correctly matched frame shape can greatly enhance the wearer’s overall appearance by complementing their face shape and features. It will also provide confidence and convey personal style,” Wood says of the philosophy undergirding his system.
A factor not typically considered is the sizing of the sunglasses themselves. Moscot is an outlier in this sense, as the 108-year-old family firm stocks several of its styles in different sizes. While determining between a Lemtosh in narrow, average, wide, or extra wide may sound like just one more complication, the ability to do so can help streamline your search.
“Men are looking for more of a tailored look,” Moscot says, adding that his male customers tend to pull for a size average or below, while women have embraced a vogue for oversized frames. “It looks a little bolder and fashion-forward.”
That desire to make a statement with shades is by no means limited to women. But if a man is just beginning to dabble in a serious sunglass investment, his best bet is to keep things classic.
“A common mistake in purchasing a pair of sunglasses is making your decision based on the latest trend rather than staying true to your personal style,” says Persol global brand director Riccardo Pozzoli, who prescribes the Italian maker’s rectangular PO3315S as a versatile starting point. “When picking out frames it is best to favor classic, timeless design and craftsmanship over trend-driven silhouettes that won’t stand the test of time.”
Armed with a little knowledge about how their face corresponds to frames, men can make the choice that leaves them looking and feeling their best—without squinting.