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Sunglasses are perhaps the most practical accessory a man can own. Leave the house without them on a sun-soaked day, and you’re in for hours of squinting or ineffectively shielding your face with your hands. But this most utilitarian of devices is also considered to be among the most stylish. That may be thanks to the origins of the accessory, as well-heeled beach goers at European resort towns in the 1930s were among the first to adopt them. It helped that they were soon seen on the temples of WWII aviators and then movie stars, becoming an iconic part of Cary Grant’s performance in North by Northwest and Steve McQueen’s star turn in The Thomas Crown Affair.
Naturally, a favored pair of sunglasses deserves a place on every packing list. Whether your late-summer plans involve an uninterrupted beach stay or an island-based destination wedding, we’ve scoped out the best shades the sunglasses market has to offer.
Best Squared-Off Sunglasses: Drake’s Smoked Green Acetate Menzies Sunglasses
Named after The Crown and Game of Thrones actor Tobias Menzies, these Drake’s shades translate the star’s on-screen suave into sunglasses form. Handmade in Italy from lightweight acetate, they feature a squared-off shape that manages to be distinct without going full-bore 1970s.
Best Sports Aviator: Todd Snyder Randolph x Todd Snyder Sportsman 57 MM in Gold
Whether fly fishing, skeet shooting, or just a day at the driving range are in the cards for your summer, you may wish to consider these action-oriented Aviators from Todd Snyder and Randolph Engineering. Made in the United States by the latter (which has supplied the U.S. Air Force), they feature retro sport details including an acetate sweat bar and gold-tinted polarized lenses.
Best Squared-Off Aviator: Ray-Ban Bill 60mm Square Sunglasses
A chunkier aviator can be had courtesy of Ray-Ban, whose Bill model boasts squared-off, 60mm lenses that recall 1980s Miami. Complete the feel with a loosely cut linen sport jacket and a white tee underneath.
Best Classic Aviator: Tom Ford Charles-02 60MM Pilot Sunglasses
The Charles-02 is an aviator style with the Tom Ford touch: timeless and elegant but with a bold look. In this case, that means 60mm lenses with a slightly angular shape, which will complement most any face from Joe Jonas to Joe Biden.
Best Wayfarers: Oliver Peoples Men’s Rorke Round Acetate & Crystal Sunglasses
From JFK to Bob Dylan, the wayfarer style is steeped in nostalgia. So, we appreciate that Oliver Peoples has refreshed it with their Rorke model, which combines a classical shape to a more contemporary crystal frame.
Best Cable Temple Sunglasses: Ralph Lauren Art Deco Panto Sunglasses
Sunglasses, first and foremost, should shield the eyes by deflecting the sun. So long as that goal is accomplished, they can also turn heads. Ralph Lauren’s Panto sunglasses should achieve that second aim, thanks to an Art Deco-inspired design that incorporates a fluted metal temple and tortoiseshell frames.
Best Sunglasses for the Beach: Frescobol Carioca Brooks Sunglasses by Garrett Leight
While there’s no doubt that Frescobol Carioca knows its way around a beach, the Anglo-Brazilian brand has partnered with California’s Garret Leight to deliver shades designed expressly for the sands. The Brooks’s UV-deflecting and AR-coated lenses will perform in the field, while its subtly squared silhouette and keyhole-shaped bridge give it the good looks needed to stroll into town after.
Best Wraparound Sunglasses: Dries Van Noten 212 Sunglasses in Black/Grey
Yes, wraparound shades can be sourced from the sunglasses rack of any American gas station—or they can come via Dries Van Noten. We recommend the latter move, as the Belgian designer’s 212 model harmonizes the squared-off shape and wide temples that give the style its sporty appeal to a clean and contemporary silhouette.
Best Retro Sunglasses: Sun Buddies Wesley Sunglasses Crystal
The ‘90s continue to influence our current cultural moment, as evidenced by the design of the Wesley sunglasses from Swedish maker Sun Buddies. Featuring a shape inspired by the on-screen eyewear of Blade star Wesley Snipes, they’re built with Carl Weiss lenses and sporty transparent frames.
Best Sunglasses for Travel: Persol Round-Frame Folding Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses
The foldability of Persol’s most iconic design will be appreciated in first-class seats, the backseats of Ubers, and any other place where you might wish to store your sunglasses away but haven’t brought a case. Thin, rounded frames made from tortoiseshell acetate make them just as elegant as they are purposeful.
Best Formal Sunglasses: Allyn Scura Legend Sunglasses Genuine Buffalo Horn
You may have not previously considered that a “formal” category of sunglasses could exist, but Sid Mashburn has. The Atlanta-based haberdasher carries the Legend model from Allyn Scura, which is crafted from hand-polished buffalo horn and boasts a refined silhouette that won’t look out of place with a tropical wool tux.
Best Sunglasses for Running: Tracksmith the Charles Sunglasses
The Boston-based brand tapped Article One to build a pair of sun-deflecting specs designed specifically for running. While the Charles has the classic good looks of a Kennedy-ready wayfarer, it’s engineered to be lightweight and damage-resistant and features grippy silicone nose pads that ensure they won’t slip between miles four and five.