The most common types of sunglasses fall under three main categories: shape, lens, and frame — and each of the types can be combined. With these options, you can create endless variations to meet your needs. Plus, you can get protection from harmful UV rays as you sport a new look.
This guide is designed to help you discover which type of designer sunglasses you need. We’ll discuss which styles flatter your face shape, suit your specific needs, and speak to your style preferences. We’ll cover:
Types of Sunglasses by Shape
Type of Sunglasses by Frame
Type of Sunglasses by Lens
Bausch and Lomb developed Ray-Ban aviators for fighter pilots in 1936. Since then, classic Ray-Ban aviators have been one of the most easily recognizable styles of sunglasses. Details like their wide teardrop lenses, flat browline, and double bridge are classic staples. Traditionally, the aviator’s rims and frames were made of lightweight metal. But over the decades, designers added flourishes and used new frame materials to update the sunglasses style.
Today, aviator sunglasses are crafted in glossy acetate, featherweight metal alloys, propionate, performance plastic, and even a combination of materials. And they come in a wide variety of colors and finishes. Other variations feature softly curved browlines, as well as a thick single bridge and slimmer teardrop lenses.
The classic aviator style is especially flattering for those with square, oval, and heart-shaped face shapes.
Since the advent of eyewear, round sunglasses have been a reliable standby. Of course, we couldn’t go without mentioning John Lennon’s signature round frames. Or the many celebrities who sported oversized versions in the early 2000s. The round sunglasses type proves to be both versatile and timeless for anyone.
If you’re looking for a sunglasses style that adds a throwback appeal to your wardrobe, round frames are the style for you. (They look particularly great on a square face shape!)
As a bonus, they can feature a split frame, added accents around the rims, and any number of design details for added interest.
Square sunglasses have equal-length rims on all four sides, creating a box shape. The silhouette can be characterized by either thick or thin square rims with angular or soft edges, crafted in a wide variety of materials. This versatile square style flatters wearers with oval, heart-shaped, or round faces.
Popular in the 1950s and ’60s, the Clubmaster silhouette is making a present-day comeback. This type of round sunglasses features thin-rimmed frames with a thick, distinctive bridge or browline for contrast. Browline-style sunglasses and clubmasters can come with a single bridge or a keyhole bride. The style is so popular, in fact, that designers often add details to square-rimmed or cat-eye silhouettes that evoke the Clubmaster.
The round sunglasses
Created in 1956, Bausch + Lomb Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses epitomize “cool.” With the signature trapezoidal shape, thicker plastic rims, and shark fin temples, the wayfarer is easy to recognize (and admire).
In recent years, designers have released updated versions of the classic style. New details include flattering browlines, thinner temples, and a variety of other revisions. Virtually every eyewear maker now offers multiple iterations of the wayfarer. You may consider it a testament to the unrelenting popularity of this favorite type of sunglasses.
So if you’re looking to channel your inner rebel, opt for a pair of wayfarer-inspired sunglasses.
Engineered for all types of sports, the wraparound sunglasses type is a more recent addition to the world of eyewear. The frames were popularized in the 1990s by athletes in a variety of different arenas. The durable frame type can include sport goggles, too.
Wraparound styles curve around the face to offer extra vision protection at the periphery. They also often feature rectangular rims (which flatter most face shapes). They’re perfect for embracing style, function, and athleticism all at once.
Believe it or not, the bygone era of upswept hairdos and games of bridge on the terrace is not so out of reach. This is thanks to the cat-eye frame, a favorite classic sunglasses trend, that is currently enjoying a comeback.
The distinguished softly rounded rims and upswept temples add refinement and vintage appeal to any wardrobe. Different versions of the retro-chic style feature narrower rims for a smart, bookish look. And oversized cat-eyes add a touch of dramatic old-Hollywood glam.
The temples in cat-eye shades can be thick or thin to suit the overall silhouette, and often include unique patterns and colors. Whether you have a square, oval, or heart-shaped face, the cat-eye style will elevate any look.
Whether your wardrobe screams vintage chic, or you simply want to add a touch of retro styling to your look, FramesDirect offers thousands of sunglasses with throwback appeal.
Many types of sunglasses, including the wayfarer, cat-eye, and Clubmaster, exude retro-inspired style. Other on-trend designer shade styles now borrow the design elements from these popular silhouettes.
Retro shades boast a bounty of options to speak to any taste. You can choose from among shark fin temples, a keyhole bridge, wood grain patterns, and other vintage-leaning details. Updated design elements include rivets on the endpoints, a distinctive brow bar, or vibrant wire temples.
If you desire a nostalgic appeal in your look, you can’t go wrong with retro-style frames.
Oversized sunglasses cover a large area of the face, which provides ample coverage of your eyes and the skin around them. These can be worn as a statement-making fashion accessory or as a UV-blocking option. It’s a great choice for athletes who spend extended time in the sun, or those who enjoy a day at the pool.
Reach for oversized sunglasses with daring, upswept endpoints for added vintage appeal. Or choose sleek, wraparound Oakleys for decreased wind resistance while exercising. Whatever your style aesthetic, FramesDirect has the perfect pair to complement it.
Clip-on sunglasses are tinted lenses that attach to a pair of eyeglasses and turn them into prescription sunglasses. This style is favored among wearers who need flexibility in their eyewear choices — and for those who don’t want to carry around two different frames.
Some of our favorite clip-on brands include Takumi, EasyClip, and XXL. These come in a variety of styles, so you can pick the perfect pair to suit your face shape and wardrobe.
As the name suggests, metal sunglasses are made from high-quality, corrosion-resistant metals. The most common metal used to construct sunglasses is Monel, a lightweight alloy known for its durability.
The downside of Monel is that it can contain nickel, to which some people are allergic. Other popular metals used for sunglasses include titanium, stainless steel, and memory metal. Titanium boasts an ultra-high tensile strength while being extremely lightweight. Stainless steel is rugged and hypoallergenic, while memory metal will ‘remember’ or return to its original shape after bends, bumps, or mishaps.
Opt for both classic style and modern performance with metal sunglass frames.
The majority of plastic sunglasses are made from acetate, a hypoallergenic material derived from cottonseed fibers. Acetate is known for its long-lasting luster and durability, making it the perfect choice for those who prefer a plastic frame.
Other plastics commonly used to make sunglasses include injected Grilamid, thermoplastic, and nylon. Each type offers improved flexibility and impact resistance.
Some athletic brands create their own plastics for use in impact-resistant sports sunglasses. This includes Oakley’s O Matter, Costa’s Bio-Based Plastic, and Wiley X’s Triloid Nylon. No matter what type of plastic shades you choose, you can be sure that you’re getting top-quality products.
Sports sunglasses come in full-wrap frames made for fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports, and sleek goggles worn on ski slopes (plus everything in between).
This type of sunglasses offers a lightweight, impact-resistant frame. You’ll also enjoy lenses in a variety of tints to match changing light conditions. Find options from brands like Rec Specs by Liberty Sport, Oakley, Nike, Under Armour, and more.
Tactical sunglasses are made to withstand impact from high-velocity, high-mass projectiles. They are designed to keep your eyes safe during hunting season, target practice, and shooting skeet. They also provide a clear, unobstructed field of view to help you realize obstacles.
Tactical sunglasses are most commonly rectangular wraparound frames. But you can find some options in round and square styles. Top brands, including Wiley X, REVO, and Ranger Performance Eyewear, make high-quality tactical sunglasses that keep your eyes safe during your favorite activities.
You may assume your options in prescription sunglasses are limited to only a few styles of frames. But in reality, styles of this type of sunglasses are as wide-ranging in options as conventional shades. All you need to do is find your favorite pair of sunnies and then add prescription lenses to your order.
Browse popular prescription-ready sunglasses at FramesDirect to find your next look.
Photochromic sunglasses are a great pick for those who desire the convenience of eyeglasses and shades in a single accessory.
You may recognize the Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™ brand. Many styles and silhouettes can be fitted with these lenses.
The wearer who needs versatile, multi-purpose frames will enjoy photochromic sunglasses.
Sunglasses with a polarized lens feature can enhance your vision outdoors. They’re designed to improve clarity and contrast, reduce glare, and minimize eye strain.
This popular sunglass type comes in many styles and silhouettes. Whatever your style sensibilities or outdoor avocations, you can find a pair of polarized sunglasses that work for you.
Many sports sunglasses also feature polarized lenses made of high-performance materials to reduce glare and improve clarity. If you spend long hours outdoors and need optimal protection from the sun, you’ll love these versatile shades. They’re great because they serve both a practical and fashionable purpose.
FramesDirect offers thousands of sunglasses styles and types from top designers. Whatever your fashion preferences, budget, or activities, we have the perfect pair of shades waiting for you.