Time keeps on slipping, and since my job involves staring at an endless number of miniature words on an incredibly bright computer screen, I suspect that having to wear glasses is in the cards for me. I’m not mad about it or anything: I actually think glasses are cool. But since I was lucky enough to grow up with 20/20 vision, I have absolutely no clue what kinds of glasses would look good on me.
With one squinting eye on the future, I reached out to glasses connoisseur Alex Arias, visual merchandiser for Sandro, and Dave Barton, founder of David Kind eyewear. Here’s what they had to say about how to choose the best glasses for your face.
Step #1: Know Which Frames Fit Your Face
“Frames that are angular look best on people with round or oval-shaped faces, because they counteract the roundness,” Arias explains. “And rounded, more curvy frames look best on those with square or heart-shaped faces, because they counteract the boxiness.”
You can break these rules, but be mindful when doing so. “If you have an angular, square jaw or face, maybe look at something round — don’t go with a super angular, square frame,” Barton reiterates. “That’s a good place to start, but it doesn’t mean you can never wear a square frame. You just have to be more careful.”
But your face as a whole isn’t the only consideration you should have while shopping for glasses. If you have fuller cheeks, for example, Arias suggests purchasing rectangular glasses that don’t stretch down towards your cheeks. That way, the frames won’t constantly bump against your face throughout the day. And don’t think the hair on your head affects the shape of your face — whether you have hair like Fabio, or you’re completely bald, it’s your facial structure that dictates which frames you choose, not the entire shape of your head.
Also, if you’re planning on using your glasses for sport — i.e., a day out on the golf course — Arias suggests investing in lighter, thinner frames to keep them from constantly slipping down your face.
Step #2: Know Your Style
While there are some reasonable suggestions when it comes to choosing the right sunglasses, if you choose to stray from them, keep your own personal style in mind. “If you’re the type of person where your frames define your style, then maybe chunky, big, heavy, black frames that are super bold could be interesting,” Barton explains. “But if you’re more of a ‘wear-all-day’ type of guy, those are really well tailored pairs of glasses on the face — that’s where you’re like, ‘I want people to see me for more than just my glasses.’ Some people wear really flashy suits, other guys just want to have a really balanced, tailored look.”
To achieve that more tailored look, Barton suggests following the above-mentioned frame shape advice, then checking out recent trends — he specifically mentions that mixed material glasses, as well as translucent colors, like greens and citrines, are really popular these days, since they can lighten up your face.
Step #3: Consider Your Skin Tone
When choosing colors, your skin tone is always worth taking into account. “You want something that doesn’t wash you out,” Barton says. “So if there are lighter, maybe reddish tones in your skin, you’re going to want to avoid reddish-colored frames or translucents that lean toward that rose-red. Instead, you’re going to want to go with maybe greens or more contrasty browns. Vice versa, if you have a darker complexion, it depends: You’re going to find that a bolder look is going to be the contrasting look — a nice crystal gray color on a dark complexion looks awesome. It looks modern and great.”
And while your hair shape might not be worth considering, the color certainly is. “If you have salt and pepper or silver hair, gray or clear frames look awesome,” Barton explains.
Step #4: When in Doubt, Go with Navigators (or Ask for Help)
If you’re not sure about your face shape, or fall somewhere in between square and round (or you’re just a lazy shopper), Arias says Navigator-style frames are always a safe choice: “It’s almost like the classic Aviator, but it’s a little wider and doesn’t droop down quite as low, making it a safe choice for most facial structures.”
But don’t be afraid to consult an expert, either. “People perceive themselves in a certain way,” Barton says. “If you have a mustache, goatee or beard, you might look great without it. But if you don’t perceive yourself as looking great without it, even though you do, if you’re looking for a change you might want to consult a person, like a barber, or in this case, an optician or an eyewear stylist.”
“There are so many people with dated frames,” Barton continues. “They’ve kind of gotten stuck in a look. But us optical people say, ‘We can update this look, and you’re going to look awesome.’ Then they put it on and say, ‘I look like [a very famous child wizard].’ No you don’t!”
Step #5: Know Your Lens Options
When it comes to sunglasses, Arias suggests choosing your lenses according to when you plan on wearing them most — say, in the car, or while tossing a frisbee at the beach. “Colored lenses, like rose-colored lenses, are great for sports or running because they lessen the brightness without necessarily darkening your vision. On the other hand, dark, polarized lenses are great for driving because they reduce that painful glare reflecting off of other cars.”
When it comes to prescription glasses, Barton points me toward the David Kind perfect fit tool. The idea is that the middle of your eyes, known as your pupils, should sit slightly above center and slightly inward in comparison to your lenses. “Then, the stronger your prescription, the smaller the lens size you want to consider, because the further the center of your eye — your pupil — is from the edge of the frame, the thicker that lens is going to be, so that’s really what you want to avoid,” Barton explains.
Step #6: Keep Them Clean!
A scuffed up lens can make any glasses unwearable. Fortunately, all glasses come with a cleaning cloth, right? Wrong, according to Arias. “Oftentimes the cloth that comes with glasses is more for protection while they’re inside the case rather than for cleaning,” he explains. “So it’s always a good idea to purchase a microfiber cloth to give your lenses a good clean when they get smudged.” If nothing else, you can always use it as a pocket square.