Find The Right Sunglasses To Suit Your Face Shape

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Find The Right Sunglasses To Suit Your Face Shape

Words by Mr Jim Merrett

9 May 2024

There’s something of an unknown quality to sunglasses. Certainly, that is part of the appeal – what’s going on behind them? On the face of it, they are there to protect your peepers. On the face of you, you might find there’s more to them than that. “They allow you to look without being seen to be looking,” says Dr Vanessa Brown, senior lecturer at the Nottingham School of Art and Design and author of Cool Shades: The History And Meaning Of Sunglasses. “To become more visible, and to prevent any emotion being expressed.”

Since their mass adoption in the early 20th century, numerous great minds from Mr Roland Barthes to Mr Aldous Huxley have cast an eye on sunglasses. Their mystery remains unsolved, but Brown notes a consensus across the academic community, perhaps peering enviously over their corrective eyewear, that “sunglasses make people more attractive”. She cites a 2000 paper in particular that describes them as “the sartorial emblem of cool”.

“Sunglasses are an incredibly unique object,” says Mr Joe Bell, head of experience at Cubitts. “They are a confluence of design, optics, physics, phrenology, materiality and personality. Much more so than other ‘fashion’ items.”

“A great pair of sunglasses can be the real cherry on top of the cake when it comes to finishing your look,” says Ms Sophie Watson, MR PORTER’s Fashion Editor. “They add a sense of character and show you have considered the finer details when it comes your personal style. Whether you are going for a vintage feel, a modern look, or something with bold colours, your eyewear will take your fit from zero to 100 in a matter of, well, popping them on. Easy.”

Easy, that is, if you know how. And for the magic to really kick in, they have to work with what you’ve got.

“Much like you would seek advice on what style of clothing suits your body shape or a hair style suits your hair type and face shape, the correct style of frame transforms and elevates the wearer,” says Ms Marie Wilkinson, style director at Cutler and Gross.

“They have [the] potential to broaden the face at the temples, heighten the eyebrows and imply an exoskeleton of cheek bones,” Brown tells MR PORTER. “Different styles ‘balance’ a face into a more ‘ideal’ set of proportions, giving the illusion that the eyes and facial bones are symmetrical. If the lenses are dark, onlookers also ‘complete’ the face in a more idealised way, imagining the eyes to be in the ‘right’ place.”

Don’t take a leap in the dark when it comes to sunglasses. Here, the experts offer advice to help you identify the best pair for you.

01. What’s your face shape?

While notions of physiognomy signposting character traits are somewhat outdated, the shape of your face can go some way to determining which style of sunglasses will suit you. But one small concern: how exactly do you identify the geometry of your visage?

“Look at your face proportions and consider if the width is similar to the overall length of your face,” Wilkinson says. “If yes, then the face could be either round, square, heart or triangular. We would then consider if the sides of the face are parallel to each other – your face could be either square or round.

“If your chin and head are rounded, leading us to say a round face shape or if your forehead is wide and the jaw more squared, then a square face shape. If the face is wider at the top and angles down to a narrow jaw, then we would consider this a triangle. And if the forehead is wide with full cheeks and tapering to a narrow chin then we would say this a heart-shape face.

“For faces where the width is narrower than the length, these could be either oval where the face is soft or oblong (long) where the features are more chiselled.”

Some frames offer almost universal appeal and will look good on most faces – there’s a reason why Wayfarers and aviator styles endure. But the wrong sunglasses will stick out like a sore thumb. On your face.

“A square frame on a square face looks awkward and hard,” Wilkinson says. “Whereas if the wearer adopts a round frame or a rounded rectangular frame, there is no conflict between the wearer’s angled jaw line and the frames. If the style of the frames compliments the face shape there is harmony and presents a pleasing sense of order to the viewer.”

That said, not everyone is in total agreement. “I don’t believe in rules on this,” Bell says when it comes to matching styles to face shapes. “One person might want to accentuate their features, while another might want to complement them.”

“If your face is a bit rounder than you might like, avoid round glasses creating an ‘echo’ of that shape,” Brown says. “If your eyes are a bit close together, make sure there is a decent bridge to them and the lenses are darker. But – do bear this in mind – if being cool is what you are aiming for, sometimes going confidently against normative rules is what it is all about. You need cast-iron confidence to pull that off.”

03. For round faces

Let’s square the circle. As in narrow frames will help lengthen rounder faces – and angular style in particular work best, pulling out your cheekbones and jawline.

“Think about adding structure,” Wilkinson says. “Select defined square and rectangular frames that give angles. Consider shapes like hexagons and bold styles with hinges set high so the temple flows from the top of the frame, like on D-shape frames. If the wearer insists on an aviator, then a navigator is the shape for a round face, such as the 1394,” Wilkinson says.

Bell agrees that a square frame will complement your features. However, he suggests a round frame will accentuate them. If your concern is going round and round in circles, keep the frames on the small side.

Try these

04. For oval faces

We mentioned earlier the ideal proportions for a face. Well, take a peek in a mirror – you could be looking at it.

Oval faces are still in round territory, but longer, if not oblong, which is squarer. As such, Wilkinson recommends “straighter edges to the frame, such as the flat top brow bar in model Aurum 0004 or GRo2”. However, you have more freedom than most to experiment, and most frames – even the more out-there styles – should work.

That said, it pays to avoid arms that hang too low and can elongate your features. Otherwise, knock yourself out.

Try these

05. For square faces

“The square face has the same height and width,” Wilkinson says, jogging our memories of basic geometry. “Because of the width and symmetry,” she says this face “would benefit from some curves, like in the GR08 where both the lens and the bridge are undulating.”

Again, it’s best to swerve styles that mimic your own face to avoid a square within a square. However, rounded rectangular frames or those with bevelled edges can do the job, provided they’re wide rather than tall. With their slightly curved trapezoid frames, Wayfarers tick all the right boxes.

Try these

06. For oblong faces

Why the long face? It’s very likely you prefer “tall”, so let’s go with that. For faces that are longer than squares, but squarer than ovals, the idea should be to balance height while making your rugged features pop.

Larger frames will bring balance, while strong brow lines running parallel to your jawline should broaden your forehead. Smaller frames, meanwhile, risk getting lost.

“A wrap-around style would be ideal” for this face shape, Wilkinson says. “The 9495 would be a dream pairing. And the rounded 9261 with its graduated lenses would give the oblong face width to balance the length of the face.”

Bell suggests a wider frame to complement and a narrow frame to accentuate your features, depending on your goals.

Try these

07. For heart-shaped faces

Got a broader forehead and slightly pinched chin? Wider frames will only emphasise this imbalance, but angular shapes should counter it. Bottom-heavy styles will also fill out the lower part of the face. And the trapezoid-shaped Wayfarers will once again come to the rescue, here.

Alternatively, Wilkinson suggests “a frame with a straight brow bar as a counterpoint to the curved forehead – a gentle taper on the outer edge would work on a heart.”

Bell points to round frames to complement and square frames to accentuate, should your heart desire.

Try these

08. For diamond-shaped faces

Finding the right frames for a diamond-shaped face doesn’t have to be rough. Opt for rounder and wider styles to ensure you shine. Bell notes that an oval frame would complement your features, while a rectangular frame would flaunt what you’ve got.

“A rectangular overall emphasis, with more width than depth, would add gentle curves to an angular diamond-shaped face,” Wilkinson says. “The undulating brow line on the Kingsman Galahad,” will be your best friend.

Try these

09. For triangular faces

Let’s get straight to the point – while most styles of sunglasses would suit you, the key is to make sure that they fit. Which means nothing too big or small. Keep everything in proportion. From here, Bell suggests deploying an oval frame to soften your features or a rectangular frame to build on them.

“The lower edge on the rectangular shape of the 1403 would add a crucial corner over the cheekbone area,” Wilkinson says.

Try these

10. Other considerations

When it comes to choosing sunglasses, Bell puts “comfort and fit” above all else. “We consider every aspect of the frame with the wearer in mind and have selected sizing to fit the widest range of people,” he says.

Of course, we should not forget protection from the sun. However, since this is often an expectation across a range, it shouldn’t necessarily influence the choice of style. “Our frames are built to last with the finest materials and all have UV400, Polarised Zeiss lenses,” Bell adds.

Wilkinson offers other things to think about: “A graduated sun lens will give less emphasis to the lower edge of the lens, so the frames appear less deep, giving width to the frame,” she says. “A solid sun lens emphasises the actual lens shape and if it matches the frame colour, gives emphasis to the overall frame shape.”

Then there’s what you’re wearing them with. “The sunnies should finish the look, so need to coalesce with the outfit you’ve chosen for the day,” Watson says. “Going for something with a hint of cowboy? Jacque Marie Mage will pair well. Is your look giving a Matrix edge? Bottega Veneta has styles for you. Heading on a hot vacation and need a pop of colour? LOEWE is your guy.”

It also pays to look towards brands that have to think about dealing with bright sunshine on the daily. “California brands such as Mr Leight, Oliver Peoples and Garret Leight California Optical tap into the famous LA sunshine, offering round and D-frames with subtle changes of lens colour and frames (we are talking pinks, greens and yellows) for that contemporary spin for those wanting something fresh.”

11. Failing all that, which styles look great on anyone?

“A solid D-frame can match with a number of face shapes, due to its strength in width and height, meaning both slim and round faces see the benefit,” Watson says. “Designer brands such and Gucci, Dior and CELINE HOMME do these really well and update them in a variety of colours and frames every season due to their universality.”

“Wear what the hell you like, in the end, is what I say,” Brown offers. “Although, you really should not attempt to get away with wearing them indoors.”