Types of Sunglasses: Your Ultimate Style Guide

sunglass styles

Sunglasses are one of the greatest inventions ever. They protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and, in the case of polarized lenses, make outdoor activities safer by reducing glare. 

But that’s obviously not where the benefits of sunglasses end. The right pair of sunnies can instantly enhance your look and help you achieve a specific style. Even better? There are so many styles to choose from. Aviator, cat eye, oversized, wayfarer—the list goes on and on! 

Not sure which styles are right for you? We’ve got you covered! This guide will discuss the different types of sunglasses and how to find your perfect match. 

Shapes and Style Names of Sunglasses 

Here’s a look at the most popular shapes and styles available. 

Rectangular Sunglasses 

Looking for a classic, versatile shape? Rectangular sunglasses are an excellent choice. Featuring lenses that are more wide than tall and corners that are either sharp or rounded, rectangular frames can be worn just as easily with your casual errands attire as with your next wedding guest outfit. 

Rectangular shades are a great match for those with diamond-, heart-, and oval-shaped faces.

rectangular sunglasses style

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Square Sunglasses 

Square sunglasses are a classic shape that never go out of style. Take it from Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, who is known for her dark, square frames, which she rocks to almost every fashion show she attends. 

A softer cousin of the rectangular frame, square sunglasses boast box-shaped lenses that suit almost all face shapes. This style meshes particularly well with round faces, as they add angles and structure. 

square sunglasses style

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Round Sunglasses 

Round sunglasses may have been popularized by rockstars like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, but this style is far more versatile than its origins suggest. You can play up the bohemian vibe with thin, round frames or opt for a more modern look with a thicker outline.  

Round shades help balance out natural facial angles, making them ideal for those with strong jawlines or a square face shape. 

round sunglasses style

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Cat Eye Sunglasses  

Distinguished by softly rounded lenses and upswept temples, cat eye sunglasses were originally made famous in the ’50s by stars like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Ranging from thick and bold to thin and delicate, cat-eye shades (sometimes referred to as butterfly sunglasses) add refinement, playfulness, and a touch of Hollywood glam to any outfit.  

This style complements a wide range of face shapes, including square, round, oval, and heart-shaped. 

cat eye sunglasses type

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Aviator Sunglasses 

Developed in the 1930s for fighter pilots to protect their eyes while flying, aviators are easily one of the most recognizable styles of sunglasses. With their wide teardrop lenses, flat browline, and double bridge, this style has seamlessly made the crossover from a functional safety item to a fashion must-have. 

Aviators, which often pair colorful, tinted lenses with a sleek, metal frame, are ideal for oval, square, and diamond face shapes. 

sunglasses types aviator

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Wayfarer Sunglasses 

Originally developed in the 1950s, wayfarers are still the pinnacle of casual cool decades later. Favored by icons like James Dean and JFK, this style features a thicker plastic frame and a broad upper rim that goes out to a shark-fin-like point. 

The angular lines of this shape are well-suited to oval, round, and diamond face shapes.  

wayfarer sunglasses style

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Clubmaster/Browline Sunglasses 

The popularity of the clubmaster style (a type of browline sunglasses) surged in the 1980s thanks to Bruce Willis sporting a pair on the TV show Moonlighting. The popular retro frame had another resurgence in recent years due to being featured in the TV series Mad Men. 

Clubmasters are defined by angular wayfarer-like styling on the upper rim of the sunglasses and a rimless (or thin metal rim) portion on the bottom half of the frame. They work well with many face shapes, including oval, round, square, and diamond. 

clubmaster browline sunglasses style

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Triangular Sunglasses 

Don’t be a square! Retro and sophisticated, triangular sunglasses are the perfect trendy piece to add to your spring and summer collection. Also referred to as heart-shaped sunglasses, triangular shades feature a straight brow bar and dramatic lens angle, ideal for adding uniqueness and whimsy to your outfit.  

Because of their defined shape, triangular frames are best suited to those with contrasting face shapes, including round, oval, and square. 

triangle sunglasses style

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Octagonal Sunglasses 

What do you get when you combine a round and square frame shape? Octagonal sunglasses! This style is fashion-forward and an excellent choice for those looking for a shape that’s unique, but not too flashy.  

This geometric silhouette is a great accessory for those with an oval, round, or diamond face shape.  

octagonal sunglasses style

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Oversized Sunglasses 

Oversized sunnies are in! Not only are large frames a fashion statement, but they also offer more sun protection than other styles. This style typically features oval or square lenses and thick frames, instantly adding a little drama to your look. 

Because oversized sunglasses come in various shapes, the best-suited face shapes for this style depend on the frame shape of each unique pair.  

oversized sunglasses style prive revaux

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Tortoise Shell 

As the name implies, tortoiseshell sunglasses are made from material that replicates the look and pattern of a tortoise shell. In fact, when tortoiseshell frames were first popularized in the 1920s, they were made using the shells of real tortoises. 

Fortunately, to prevent the animals from becoming extinct, the practice was banned worldwide in the 1970s. Instead, manufacturers turned to custom acetates that resembled the look of tortoiseshell—no tortoises harmed!

Tortoiseshell glasses come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, so anyone who wants to try this style can undoubtedly find a pair well-suited to their face shape. 

tortoise shell sunglasses style prive revaux

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Shield Sunglasses 

First becoming popular in the 2000s, shield sunglasses are having a major fashion moment right now, with celebs like Kim K. and J. Lo regularly rocking this style. 

Shield shades are characterized by having one continuous lens that spans the distance normally covered by two separate lenses and a nose bridge. Think of them like the unibrow of sunglasses. 

For those with oval, square, and round face shapes looking for ultimate sun protection and/or to make a bold fashion statement, shield sunglasses are the way to go. 

shield sunglasses style

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Navigator Sunglasses 

A close cousin of the aviator, navigators feature the same lightweight steel frame and brow bar, but the lenses are square- or hexagonal-shaped instead of teardrop-shaped. They’re sure to score serious style points by setting you apart from the rest of the aviator-wearing crowd.

This stylish, edgy style works well with many face shapes, including round, oval, diamond, and heart-shaped. 

navigator sunglasses style

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Clip-On Sunglasses

Clip-on sunglasses allow you to seamlessly switch between different types or styles of lenses.

For example, Privé Revaux’s Chic InstaShade Blue Light Glasses give you three looks in one single accessory. You can quickly transform the glasses from clear-lens blue-light blockers to polarized sunglasses, simply by attaching one of the two magnetic sunglass frames to the front of the glasses. 

Clip-ons are an excellent choice for those who value convenience and versatility. Plus, who doesn’t love the satisfying “click” of attaching your clip-on shades before heading out the door? 

clip on sunglasses style

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different types of sunglasses lenses

Types of Lenses  

While sunglasses are undoubtedly the ultimate fashion accessory, we mustn’t forget that the primary purpose of sunglasses is to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. As such, the type of lenses is another important factor to consider when choosing a new pair of shades. 

Certain types of lenses protect your eyes in different environmental conditions, so the type you choose will depend on your unique needs. Here are the most common lens types to be aware of: 

UV Protection

Most sunglasses on the market have UV protection embedded in the lenses. UV-blocking lenses stop the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays from reaching your eyes. This is essential, as UV radiation can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, vision loss, and even cancer of the eye or eyelid.

Sunglasses should always disclose the level of UV protection they offer. This can be found either on the sunglasses label or in the online description. Look for a label or description that says “100% protection against UVA and UVB.”  

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses have a chemical coating that effectively reduces glare. As a result, the wearer can see images and colors more clearly and vividly. Polarization is ideal for engaging in water activities, such as fishing or boating, or for those particularly sensitive to glare.   

In some cases, polarized lenses can diminish the visibility of digital screens outdoors, which may be an issue for some people. They’re also not ideal for snow sports, as reduced glare can make it difficult to see icy patches. 

Polarized lenses are generally darker than standard tinted lenses, but not always. 

Mirrored Lenses 

With mirrored lenses, a reflective film is applied to the outside surface of the lenses. This film reduces visible light and some glare, providing a more comfortable viewing experience when in environments with bright, harsh light. 

Mirrored lenses are not ideal for wearing on overcast days, as they may cut too much visible light. They are, however, a good choice for snow sports, where being able to see some glare is beneficial.

Mirrored lenses look shiny on the outside (like a mirror), making for a sleek, fashionable look. They also completely prevent other people from being able to see your eyes. 

Photochromic Lenses 

Photochromic lenses are essentially a pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses combined in one single accessory. They appear and function as a regular pair of eyeglasses when worn indoors, but automatically darken when exposed to sunlight.  

The downside of this option is that the photochromic process doesn’t work when driving a car because UVB rays don’t penetrate your windshield. As such, another pair of sunglasses would be needed for driving.

Gradient Lenses 

Gradient lenses are tinted from top to bottom, so that the top of the lens is darkest and blocks out the most light. It’s a very practical lens, blocking bright light from overhead while allowing significantly more light through at the bottom.

Gradient lenses come in a wide variety of colors, from muted browns to eye-catching pinks, yellows, and greens.  

Blue Light Blocking Lenses 

Some sunglasses feature blue light blocking lenses, which block blue light from reaching your eyes. Blue light is emitted not only from the sun, but also from electronic devices like smartphones, iPads, and laptops. Blue light blocking lenses are thought to reduce eye strain caused by looking at digital devices for long periods of time. 

The blue light blocking technology may either be built into the lenses, or come as an option with a clip-on pair of sunglasses, such as the Chic InstaShade Blue Light Glasses

Best Sunglasses for Your Face Shapes

Understanding and embracing your face shape is the main trick to finding a pair of sunnies that perfectly complement your look. In general, you want to choose a style that offsets the lines and angles of your face. 

While we provided some information about face shape above under each individual style of sunglasses, here’s a quick summary you can easily refer to:

  • Oval faces: If you have this face shape, rejoice! Almost any style looks great on you, including aviator, cat eye, oversized, round, square, and wayfarer. 
  • Round faces: Angular frames that add structure to your face, such as square and wayfarer, are ideal for you. 
  • Square faces: Look for curved frames that balance your angular lines. Aviator, cat-eye, round, and oversized styles tend to work well. 
  • Oblong faces: Styles that add width to your face are a great fit. Consider square, oversized, or wayfarer shades. 
  • Heart-shaped faces: Frames that bring attention downward will help elongate your face. Opt for aviator, cat-eye, and round styles. 

Remember, these are just guidelines. If you fall in love with a style and think it would work well for you, by all means, give it a go!

Find Your Frames   

Finding your perfect pair of sunglasses comes down to understanding your style, face shape, and needs. Looking for top trending men's sunglasses? Check out our guide on the most popular sunglasses styles for men.

At Privé Revaux, we offer a wide selection of on-trend sunglasses, all of which provide 100% UVA and UVB protection. No matter your fashion preferences or outdoor activities, we have the perfect pair of shades waiting for you.  

Find your fit by exploring Privé Revaux’s collection of high-quality, affordable sunglasses today!

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