The most common types of sunglasses fall under three main categories, which include shape, lens, and frame. These types can be combined, creating endless variations, and allowing you to tailor your sunglasses to meet your needs.
We have compiled this guide to help you discover which type of designer sunglasses will 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
Developed in 1936 by Bausch and Lomb for fighter pilots, classic Ray-Ban Aviators are easily one of the most recognizable styles of sunglasses, with their wide teardrop lenses, flat browline, and double bridge. Traditionally, the Aviator’s rims and frames were made of lightweight metal. Over the decades, designers added flourishes to update the sunglasses style. Today, aviator sunglasses are crafted in glossy acetate, featherweight metal alloys, propionate, performance plastic, or a combination of materials, in a wide variety of colors and finishes. Other variations feature softly curved browlines, a thick single bridge, and slimmer teardrop lenses. For the wearer with a square, oval, or heart-shaped face, the aviator offers sun protection in a sleek style.
Since the advent of eyewear, round sunglasses have been a reliable standby. From John Lennon’s signature frames to the oversized silhouettes worn by celebrities in the early 2000s, the round sunglasses type is at once versatile and timeless. Perfect for the wearer with a square face shape, round sunglasses can feature a split frame, added accents around the rims, or any number of design details for added interest. Impart throwback appeal to your wardrobe wearing this popular sunglasses style.
Square sunglasses have equal-length rims on all four sides, creating a box shape. The silhouette is characterized by thick or thin square rims with angular or soft edges, crafted in a wide variety of materials. Versatile square sunglasses flatter the wearer with an oval, round, or heart-shaped face.
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 browline style is so popular that designers often add details to square-rimmed or cat-eye silhouettes that evoke the clubmaster.
Created in 1956, Bausch and Lomb’s Ray-Ban Wayfarer has been the sunglasses type most likely to grace the faces of wearers who epitomize cool. With its signature trapezoidal shape, thicker plastic rims, and shark fin temples, the wayfarer is easy to recognize. In recent years, designers have released updated versions of the classic style with flattering browlines, thinner temples, and a variety of other revisions to the sunglasses type. That virtually every eyewear maker offers multiple iterations of the wayfarer is a testament to the unrelenting popularity of this favorite type of sunglasses. Channel your inner rebel and 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. Popularized in the 1990s by athletes in a number of different arenas, this durable frame type can include sport goggles as well as sunglasses. Wraparound styles curve around the face to offer extra vision protection at the periphery, and often feature rectangular rims that flatter most face shapes.
Recalling a bygone era of upswept hairdos and games of bridge on the terrace, cat-eye sunglasses are a favorite type of sunglasses enjoying a comeback. Distinguished by softly rounded rims and upswept temples, the cat-eye adds refinement and vintage appeal to any wardrobe. Different versions of the retro-chic style feature narrower rims for a smart, bookish look, or oversized frames for 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. Perfect for the wearer with a square, oval, or heart-shaped face, cat-eye sunglasses 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. While many favorite types of sunglasses, including the wayfarer, cat-eye, and clubmaster, exude retro-inspired style, other on-trend types of designer shades borrow one or more design elements from these popular silhouettes. Characterized by shark fin temples, a keyhole bridge, wood grain patterns, or other vintage-leaning details, this sunglasses type boasts a bounty of options to speak to any taste. Updated design elements include rivets on the endpoints, a distinctive brow bar, or vibrant wire temples. Add nostalgic appeal to your look by wearing a pair of retro sunglasses.
Oversized sunglasses cover a large area of the face, providing ample coverage to your eyes and the skin around them. Large sunglasses are often worn as a statement-making fashion accessory, or as a protective option for athletes who spend extended time in the sun. 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 offers a pair of oversized sunglasses to complement it.
Clip-on sunglasses are tinted lenses that attach to a pair of eyeglasses, turning them into prescription sunglasses. This type of sunglasses is favored among wearers who favor flexibility in their eyewear choices and who don't want to carry two large pairs of frames. Some of our favorite clip-on sunglasses brands include Takumi, EasyClip, and XXL. These sunglasses 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 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, with each type offering improved flexibility and impact resistance. Some sports brands create their own plastics for use in impact-resistant athletic sunglasses. This includes Oakley's O Matter, Costa's Bio-Based Plastic, and Wiley X's Triloid Nylon. No matter what type of plastic sunglasses you choose, you can be sure that you're getting top-quality products.
Sports sunglasses range from full-wrap frames made for fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports to sleek goggles worn on ski slopes. This type of sunglasses is generally characterized by a lightweight, impact-resistant frame and lenses in a variety of tints to match changing light conditions. Find sports sunglasses from brands like Rec Specs by Liberty Sport, Oakley, Nike, Under Armour, and more.
Tactical sunglasses are made to withstand impacts from high-velocity, high-mass projectiles. They are designed to keep your eyes safe during hunting season, target practice, and shooting skeet, and provide a clear, unobstructed field of view to help 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 to 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. In reality, available styles in this type of sunglasses are as wide-ranging as options in conventional shades; you need only to find your favorite pair of shades and then add prescription lenses to your order. Browse popular prescription-ready sunglasses at FramesDirect to find your next look.
Photochromic sunglasses are a popular type for the wearer who desires the convenience of eyeglasses and shades combined in a single accessory. You may recognize the Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™ brand; many styles and silhouettes of sunglasses can be fitted with these lenses. The wearer who needs versatile, multi-purpose frames will enjoy photochromic sunglasses.
Known to improve clarity and contrast, reduce glare, and minimize eye strain, polarized sunglasses can enhance your vision outdoors. This popular sunglass type extends to multiple styles and silhouettes, so whatever your style sensibilities or outdoor avocations, you can find polarized sunglasses that work for you. Many sports sunglasses also feature polarized lenses made of high-performance materials to reduce glare and improve clarity. Preferred by the wearer who spends long hours outdoors and needs optimal protection from the sun, these versatile shades serve a practical purpose as well as a fashionable one.
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. Contact us with any questions related to fit, styling, add-on options, and prescriptions. With a five-star Trustpilot rating, you can be sure you’re making a good choice when you purchase your next pair of sunglasses from FramesDirect.