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11 Ways to Look Better in Sunglasses

Find the best size, frame and color to highlight your face

spinner image A woman wearing sunglasses on the deck of a yacht
Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Everyone feels edgier, sexier, more mysterious, adventurous and confident in sunglasses. At 50, we also love the way those lenses camouflage everything from undereye bags to saggy lids to last night's extra glass of rosé — and protect our peepers and the skin around them from UV damage. The only tricky part: choosing sunglasses that flatter our grownup features and work for our lifestyle.

spinner image A woman looking at a mirror in a store trying on sunglasses
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1. Take a look in the mirror with your sunglasses on and then off

Guess what? The sunglass style you loved and lived in for years may be all wrong for you now. Grownup faces change with age. They get fuller or thinner thanks to weight gain or loss, or become saggier or more jowly thanks to gravity, time and hormonal changes. Chances are the frames you're wearing may be too big, too small, too narrow, too wide or too ho-hum for your face. Keep an open mind and read on.

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spinner image A woman trying on a pair of sunglasses at a store in an airport
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2. Know the signs of a bad fit

If your sunglasses are denting your cheeks, crushing your nostrils or moving up and down when you smile, talk or eat, it's time for an update. Are the temples (what we usually call the “arms” or “sides") digging into your head or ears? They should hug your head and extend back or angle down at the ends without hurting. Do the lenses cover enough of your eye area? Wire-frame styles with retro round lenses (sometimes called John Lennon style) are too small to effectively protect your eye area from UV rays. Save them for glasses. Do your brows show at all? Sunglasses should not totally hide them. Do your glasses always tilt? Check your ears. If one ear is slightly higher or lower than the other (more common than you think) your frames will look askew. Do your lashes hit the lenses? The angle of the frame is off so the glasses sit too close to your face. Just say no!

spinner image A man and woman wearing sunglasses talking to a friend at a table at an outdoor restaurant
Morsa Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images

3. Keep frames and face shape in sync

There are no “rules” about face shape and sunglasses. No one's face at 50 is really a square, heart or round shape; in fact, our faces become more asymmetrical with age. Hairlines recede, ears and noses continue to grow, lips sometimes flatten or thin and jawlines can look droopy. The right sunglasses shape should give your face back some definition, lift your features and create a more balanced look while diverting attention away from whatever you'd like to ignore. In general, opposites attract. Sunglasses with angular lines such as squares and rectangles flatter round/full/plump faces, while rounded frames or lenses (even rounded squares) flatter very angular, sharp faces with strong features, chiseled jaws and cheekbones.

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spinner image J Crew Pacific Cat Eye Sunglasses Foster Grant T P 0 5 Laundry by Design Womens Rectangular Sunglasses with 100 percent U V Protection Jessica Simpson Womens Metal Aviator Sunglasses with 100 percent U V protection J Crew Dock Sunglasses for Men
(Clockwise from top left) J. Crew Pacific Cat-Eye Sunglasses in Caramel Tort; Foster Grant TP 05; Laundry by Design Women’s Rectangular Sunglasses with 100% UV Protection; Jessica Simpson Women’s Metal Aviator Sunglasses with 100% UV protection; J. Crew Dock Sunglasses for Men; Women’s DIFF Eyewear Ruby Tortoise Polarized Sunglasses
J.Crew (2); Walmart (2); Kohl's; Foster Grant

4. Classic with a twist never fails

Forget about trendy sunglasses with narrow tiny frames, extreme-looking flat-tops, odd geometric shapes and cute hearts and unusual colors. Basic contemporary frames in black and tortoiseshell plastic or silver or gold metal never fail us — they always look cool, not crazy and provide us with all the shading benefits. They include modern cat-eyes like the J. Crew Pacific Cat-Eye Sunglasses in Caramel Tort ($70, and Women's DIFF Eyewear Ruby Tortoise Polarized Sunglasses ($85,, aviators like the Foster Grant TP 05 ($31, or Jessica Simpson Women's Metal Aviator Sunglasses with 100% UV protection ($45, and angular frames like Laundry by Design Women's Rectangular Sunglasses with 100% UV Protection ($43, and J. Crew Dock Sunglasses for Men ($65,

spinner image Caterpillar Ridge Sunglasses for Men and Foster Grant Juliet for Women sunglasses
Caterpillar Ridge Sunglasses for Men (top left); Foster Grant Juliet for Women (bottom right); Foster Grant

5. Size matters

Sunglass size and face size should be in sync. Many women now like the chic look of oversized frames but make the mistake of choosing sunglasses that are too wide or just plain gigantic. Frames — even larger ones — should never extend past the outer borders of your face. Oversize sunglasses are great but keep them in proportion. The only sunglasses that should extend at the sides are wraparound styles, which have a jet-set sporty look. Some women and men with very sensitive eyes like the way they widen peripheral vision, block wind and add extra protection to the outer eye area but choose an updated style now, like the Foster Grant Juliet for Women ($31, or Caterpillar Ridge Sunglasses Men ($45, In general, the wider/fuller/plumper the face, the bolder and bigger the glasses can be. These will usually be plastic frames for the drama.

spinner image Michael Kors MK2080U in Dark Tort Smoke Gradient Circus by Sam Edelman Womens CC447 Cat Eye Sunglasses Le Specs Crazy in Love Cat Eye Sunglasses in Tortoise Polo PH4110 in Striped Havana Light Blue Lens J Crew Portico Sunglasses
(Clockwise from top left) Michael Kors MK2080U in Dark Tort/Smoke Gradient; Circus by Sam Edelman Women’s CC447 Cat-Eye Sunglasses; Le Specs “Crazy in Love” Cat Eye Sunglasses in Tortoise; Polo PH4110 in Striped Havana/Light Blue Lens; J.Crew Portico Sunglasses in Brown Tort (2); Walmart (2); J.Crew

6. Be sure you're getting a cosmetic perk

Grownup women and men know the value of illusion. We choose neutral clothes with spandex to look slimmer and wear tops untucked to blur a belly bulge. We choose hairstyles that make our locks look fuller, cut bangs to camouflage forehead creases, grow beards to hide a looser jawline. Choose sunglasses that work the same way. Frames for women with a subtle uplifting cat-eye shape, like Circus by Sam Edelman Women's CC447 Cat-Eye Sunglasses ($40, and Le Specs “Crazy in Love” Cat Eye Sunglasses in Tortoise ($39,, redirect attention up and out to counteract the downward droop of wrinkles, lines, eyes and brows. One thing to note: No retro shapes or points are necessary or wanted anymore. Rounded frames like the Michael Kors MK2080U in Dark Tort/Smoke Gradient ($99, for women and the Polo PH4110 ($126, or J. Crew Portico Sunglasses for men ($65, soften the effect of deeply ingrained expression lines and give faces a happier, less fatigued look.

spinner image Side by side images of Spike Lee, Queen Latifah and Anna Wintour all wearing sunglasses
(Left to right) Spike Lee, Queen Latifah and Anna Wintour
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images; George Pimentel/Getty Images

7. Choose a frame that stands out or blends in

You know your comfort zone by now so stick with it. Every basic sunglass from square to round and cat-eye is of course available in frames from thick to thin, bold to barely there. Want a rule of thumb? In general, bolder sunglasses with thicker frames work well on larger faces or those with strong/large/defined features, anyone with a big personality or a personal sense of style. Think: Spike Lee and Robert Downey Jr., Anna Wintour and Oprah Winfrey and you get the idea. Thinner frames with plastic or wire rims and rimless styles work well on smaller faces or those with small/delicate/thin features and for anyone who prefers their glasses to blend in and not stand out. Think Jennifer Aniston or Tilda Swinton or Queen Latifah in their aviators. Of course, you can have it both ways: simple thin sunglasses with bolder tinted or mirrored lenses, or a bold frame in muted pale or transparent colors. It's a win-win.

spinner image A couple wearing sunglasses sitting side by side on deck chairs and doing some reading outdoors
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8. Get your bridges in line

The “bridge” refers to the center piece of the sunglasses and also the topmost area of your nose where your frames sit. Do you have a large, thin or wide nose and a flat, low or high bridge on that nose? This is important because if the bridge of your sunglasses is wrong for your nose bridge, the frames will never feel right or look great. When the bridge is too small your glasses will squeeze and pinch; when it's too wide the frames will keep sliding down all day. If you wear aviators, wire-rim or rimless metal frames, you're in luck. These have flexible nose pads that can be adjusted wider or smaller to help improve the fit at the nose.

spinner image A woman is trying on sunglasses and examining another pair in her hand
Uwe Krejci/DigitalVision/Getty Images

9. Check your nose and eye proportions

If you wear plastic frames here's how to get a good bridge fit. Take a selfie of your face from the front and profile. If the bridge of your nose sits low on your face (below your pupils) and you have high cheekbones or a wide face you need a narrow sunglass bridge to prevent glasses from sliding down and resting on your cheeks. If your nose bridge sits high on your face or you have a wide nose, you need a larger sunglass bridge to avoid glasses bouncing up or pinching. Check inside the frame of any eyeglass or sunglass frame that fits comfortably. You'll see three numbers on the temple or bridge, something like 49-18-140. The first number is the lens width hinge to hinge; the second number is the bridge width; the third is the arm length in millimeters. A narrow bridge number is 14 to 16 mm, medium 17 to 19 mm and wide 20 to 23 mm. Use this as an approximate guide when choosing new sunglasses since not all bridges with the same measurement fit the same. It's just like trying on jeans!

spinner image Foster Grant Jodi Sunglasses for Women RALPH by Ralph Lauren RA5260
Foster Grant Jodi Sunglasses for Women (top); RALPH by Ralph Lauren RA5260 (bottom)
Foster Grant;

10. Pick lens colors and coatings you love

Wish you could see the world through rose-colored glasses again or just give your face a rosy glow? Well you can. Ready-made candy-colored lenses like the Foster Grant Jodi Sunglasses for Women ($31, and Ralph by Ralph Lauren RA5260 ($75, and prescription lenses in pastels are another way to boost your sunglass flattery. You'd never think soothing light blue or destressing pink lens sunnies are as effective as dark green or brown but they are. Light or colorful lenses don't affect eye protection so long as the lenses are 100 percent UVA/UVB protective. A light tint of 10 to 20 percent is great for indoors if you have sensitive eyes and work in front of a window or are spending summer in front of a computer screen, and they don't totally hide your eyes. A medium 50 percent tint or gradient lenses — tinted darker on top and gradually fading to a lighter tint on the bottom — will give you all-around wear and more privacy.

spinner image H and M Polarized Womens Sunglasses in Gold colored Patterned Wear Me Pro Aviator Full Mirror Silver Sunglasses in Gold Frame Mirror Blue Lenses Michael Kors MK5004 in Rose Gold Purple Mirror Lens
(Clockwise from top left) H&M Polarized Women’s Sunglasses in Gold-Colored/Patterned; WearMe Pro Aviator Full Mirror Silver Sunglasses in Gold Frame/Mirror Blue Lenses; Michael Kors MK5004 in Rose Gold/Purple Mirror Lens
H&M; Walmart;

11. Wear sunglasses for the beach and driving mindfully

Let's add a little safety and peace of mind to the sunglasses consideration. Consider choosing trendy mirrored lenses like the WearMe Pro Aviator Full Mirror Silver Sunglasses in Gold Frame/Mirror Blue Lenses ($17, or Michael Kors MK5004 in Rose Gold/Purple Mirror Lens ($139, for an extra coating of UV-ray protection at the beach since they reduce glare reflected off water and sand and are surprisingly scratch resistant. As a bonus: You won't have to make eye contact when social distancing and they do look sexy. Polarized lenses like the H&M Polarized Women's Sunglasses in Gold-Colored/Patterned ($30, will help counteract glare for driving when shiny reflective surfaces like cars and store windows impact your vision. For urban life or constant indoor/outdoor activity, photochromatic lenses (also called transition lenses) are a good idea for those who wear prescription sunglasses. They're clear like regular eyeglasses but darken in the sun and go lighter when you go back inside. Coatings are as important as frames and lens color. You can't look good when you're squinting!

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