Just our luck, eh? The first decent spring that Britain gets in years, and we’re all on lockdown. But, if you’ve been making the most of your garden — or that single walk, run or cycle we get every day — you’ll know just how dazzling it is out there. And that means we get to bring our sunglasses out for another year.
But there’s been a problem with some sunglasses of late. Bold of colour and even bolder of design, we’re a little embarrassed by some of our frames — and we’ve taken to squinting our way through these sunny days rather than bring out those bright red wraparounds we thought were a good idea back in 2018. How times change. And that’s why it pays to invest in a pair of timeless sunglasses instead — designs that’ll look as good decades down the line as they do now. Here are five of the best…
For unrivalled levels of cool, a pair of Aviators
You’ve seen Top Gun. You know what a pair of Aviators are all about. First developed by Canadian company Bausch & Lomb in 1936, these big lensed style statements were invented to protect the eyes of pilots. But, with very thin metal frames and double or triple bridges, they have transcended their original military purpose and are now among the sharpest sunglasses you can buy.
We’re particularly fond of these Collier Aviators from British Brand Cubitts. Named for Collier Street in London’s King’s Cross, they are designed to add length to shorter noses. From Oscar Deen, these mock ‘Mocha’ Aviators are chunkier than your usual fly-boy frames, inspired by 60s Italian bifocals with delicate lines and a strong brow. Or, for a spin on the classic, look no further than Ray-Ban, whose slightly squared-off frames couldn’t get more iconic.
Cubitts Collier Sunglasses
Oscar Deen Fraser Sunglasses
Ray-Ban Pilot Frame Sunglasses
For a classic, sophisticated look, a pair of D-Frames
It doesn’t get much more understated — or timeless — than a pair of D-Frame sunglasses. No-one really knows from where this style sprung, but hundreds of manufacturers have put their own spin on it over the years; most notably Ray-Ban with its unrivalled Wayfarers. But we’re not going to suggest those classic frames. We’ve found some slightly edgier options…
From Italia Independent, these first frames, the Giancarlos, are designed by Lapo Elkann, grandson of Gianni Agnelli. We’re also rather taken by Monc’s Príncipe frames in marble blue. Or, if you’re looking for a more retro take on eyewear, how about Oscar Deen’s Carril shades in brown and vintage bottle green?
Lapo Elkann Giancarlo
Mon Príncipe Sunglasses
Oscar Deen Carril Sunglasses
For a smaller, more compact style, a pair of Browlines
Now here’s a design for any style-conscious intellectuals out there. Think of browline frames as the sort that Oxbridge dons would wear — paired with a tweed suit and professorial moustache. Reminiscent of 1950s nostalgia, they are decidedly retro, hardier than they look — and timeless beyond compare.
Ray-Ban, unsurprisingly, has some of the best. The Clubmaster Classics have name recognition most frames could only dream of, with their polished black frames and signature green lenses. Cutler & Gross has a fun take on the style, with a curvier brow and Dark Turtle design. Or why not turn to Paul Smith? Predictably, the British designer has the coolest frames of the lot, all angular navy edges and lenses of cool blue.
Ray-Ban Clubmaster Classics
Cutler & Gross Dark Turtle Sunglasses
Paul Smith Navy Barber Sunglasses
For a delicate — yet dashing — look, a pair of Round frames
There’s something dainty about a round pair of sunglasses. But don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with dainty. Instead, this style shows that you’re confident in your fashion — and have found a pair of frames that really work for you. But remember what we told you about sunglasses and face shapes; never go round if you have a round face.
Instead, try on these Cubitts Herbrand frames if you’ve got a strong chin and some edge to that jawline. Delicately designed, they share their classic look with Monc’s Monti sunglasses, in an eye-catching bottle green. Or, if you’re really looking to go for the lightweight look, slip on these gold Vicuna sunglasses from The Bespoke Dudes Eyewear.
Cubitts Herbrand Sunglasses
The Bespoke Dudes Eyewear Vicuna
Monc Monti Sunglasses
For a perfect pair for travelling, Folding sunglasses
Okay, it’s more of a function than a style — but there’s a reason that folding sunglasses are so popular. Not many of us are jet-setting at the moment, but the minute that planes are wheels up once more, you can bet your bottom dollar that airport terminals will be full of cracked lenses and broken frames. But not if you’re smart. Not if you invest in folding sunglasses.
And, just because they’re useful doesn’t mean they’re without style. In fact, some of the finest frames ever devised were foldable. Just look at Ray-Ban’s folding Wayfarers or Persol’s iconic 714 ‘Steven McQueen’ designs. Of course, we’d recommend thinking outside the box, still sticking with Ray-Ban — but unfolding a pair of their counter-culture style icons; the brown, round folding sunglasses.
Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarers
Persol 714 SM Sunglasses
Ray-Ban Round Folding Collection