Blinded By The Dimmer Lights
Winter sun may have lost its ability to sear your skin, but it’s not entirely toothless. “Harmful UVA and UVB rays are still present in winter,” says Ashley Bezamat, founder of luxury sunglasses brand Dom Vetro. Let them bounce around your eyeballs unimpeded and you’ll be wearing permanent shades in your sixties. In the form of cataracts, not wayfarers.
You’re more at risk of staring straight into the sun when it’s low in the sky, especially when you’re driving. But don’t just stow a budget pair in your glovebox. “Cheap sunglasses with poor quality lenses can actually damage your eyes even more than not wearing sunglasses at all,” says Bezamat. The dark tint expands your iris, so more UV rays can flood in. Look for lenses with 100 per cent UV protection, like Dom Vetro’s Lupetto, to avoid clouded vision down the line.
The Spice Of Life
Karl Lagerfeld excepted, the same sunglasses don’t work with everything you wear. “Eyewear is an accessory,” says Mark de Lange, founder of Dutch eyewear specialists Ace & Tate. “You should be able to change your frames for every occasion.” Since winter means you’ve muted the rest of your wardrobe, your shades should follow suit.
For weekends, ditch metallics in favour of timber – Shwood’s Canby sunnies are carved from American hardwoods, which makes for a durable way to add some unexpected texture. For your commute, look for classic shapes in muted shades. Ace & Tate’s Murray subtly tweaks the wayfarer silhouette and plays well with equally dark tailoring.
Quality Will Out
If you still want to wear them next year, then it’s worth investing. But price tags aren’t shorthand for quality. A logo can carry a mark-up of over a thousand percent, so you pay premium prices for something snappable.
“The two hallmarks of quality are materials and craftsmanship,” says Bezamat. Look for frames handmade in the mountains of Japan or Italy (the optical equivalent of Savile Row and Milan). Pick acetate frames over plastic – it’s more durable and can be fitted to your face – then inspect the hinges. If they’ve been polished, rather than left rough, odds are the same attention will have been lavished on the rest of the frame.
If you’re off up the Alps and not a fan of goggle tans, then sunglasses minimise the odds you’ll return from the slopes as a panda impersonator. But your daily shades won’t cut it at altitude. The thin atmosphere and sun-reflecting snow doubles your exposure to UV and can cause snow blindness.
According to Bezamat, your ski-ready sunglasses checklist should include: darker lenses to counteract those extra rays; a bigger shape to block more wind; and polarising lenses with anti-reflective coatings so glare doesn’t send you off a cliff edge.
“When the conditions are extreme, you also need special coloured lenses to provide more contrast.” Oakley’s Tailpin shades offer on-piste protection, without the weekend dad overtones of wraparounds. So you can still wear them for the après.
Face Up To Fit
As with opticals, your shades need to complement what they’re covering. “For every face shape, there’s a complementary frame shape,” says de Lange. Pick wrong and those circular sunnies will make you look less John Lennon, more Wilson the volleyball. Follow de Lange’s guidelines to ensure your shades are fit for purpose:
With full cheeks, a wide forehead and round chin, you need to square the circle. Look for frames with strong angles.
If you’re blessed with a long, slim face and long nose, thank your folks. Most shapes work, especially if they’re oversized.
A strong jawline and broad forehead need softening. Curves are your best bet to avoid emulating a Tetromino.
Kudos on the long forehead, high cheekbones and strong jawline. Oval frames will complement all that chiselling.
With a broad forehead and cheekbones tapering to a narrow chin, you want to direct the eye downwards with something bottom heavy.
Winning the genetic lottery means anything suits. Take advantage of your good fortune and make a statement with something avant-garde. You lucky chap.