11 Types of Sunglasses Every Man Should Know About

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by  Karlton Miko Tyack | Last Updated: 

Summer marks a time of inventory management. You’re stashing your winter coats, stocking up on Banana Boat, and possibly switching your car tires.

It’s also an opportunity to up your sunglasses game. For those who don’t need convincing, you might need a reminder that it’s an ideal time to add to your collection.

Style aside, you wouldn’t head to the beach without sunscreen. Don’t let inferior shades and ultraviolet lights wreak havoc on your corneas either.

There are countless styles of shades, so we’re going to show you the most important ones. These are the 11 types of sunglasses every man must know about. 

11 Types of Sunglasses for Men

1. Browline Sunglasses

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Browline sunglasses are distinguished by their thick top rim. Introduced in the late 1940s, they became the most popular eyewear style all throughout the 1950s. 

By the 60s, full rims a la Cary Grant in North by Northwest took over. Browlines were mostly used for eyeglasses, and relegated to nerd culture. Ironically, this set the stage for their comeback. The rise of hipster vintage and geek chic in the 2000s officially cemented browlines as timelessly stylish.

Browlines complement undefined brow ridges and square-shaped faces. They’re also exceedingly versatile, adding a retro or dapper charm to casual and formal looks. 

Our Favorite: The Vincero Villa

The slick lines and detailed curves of the Vincero Villa place it on the intersection of traditional and bold. The black-rimmed version is made to pair with a power suit, while the tortoise shells say, “I might be a college professor, but I have a hot girlfriend.”

Vincero Villa

Browlines complement undefined brow ridges and square-shaped faces. They’re also exceedingly versatile, adding a retro or dapper charm to casual and formal looks. 

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2. Beater Shades

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Everyone needs a few pairs of beater shades that can be tossed around and potentially lost at a wild bachelor party. After all, you wouldn’t wear designer trousers to a music festival.

Just because these sunglasses are affordable though, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work. Again, you don’t want to come back from the beach with burned retinas because you picked ineffective beaters. You also don’t want ones that look bad on you.

Beater shades should still provide 100% protection from the sun and they should have a universal style that suits most bone structures. This is just in case you need to loan a pair out to your forgetful buddy.

Our Favorite: Knockaround Classics

With its subtle top arch and slightly rounded lenses, Knockaround Classics look excellent on any face-shape. The lenses and frames come in several colors, ensuring a combo for any guy’s personal style. And unlike other cheap sunglasses, these will actually protect your eyes. 

Knockaround Classic

If you're on a natty light and ramen budget, these Wayfarer alternatives are the choice for you.

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3. Aviators

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Optical products company Bausch & Lomb introduced aviator sunglasses as we know them in 1936. With their effortless and undeniable cool-factor, they’re one of few styles that have remained consistently popular since their debut.

Aviators are defined by large convex lenses that curve along the cheekbones, thin metal frames with a double (or triple) bridge, and adjustable nose pads.

These shades have made their way around in pop culture, all the while becoming a historical style icon thanks to General MacArthur. Their large lenses are ideal for several face shapes, from oval to square. 

Our Favorite: The Vincero Aviator

Whether you go for the chic black version or the authoritative gunmetal, the Vincero Aviators do this iconic silhouette justice. The flat surface of the frames subtly modernizes the classic style. The result is a timeless pair of cool shades that are less textbook and more distinct.

Vincero Aviators

These shades have made their way around in pop culture, all the while becoming a historical style icon thanks to General MacArthur. Their large lenses are ideal for several face shapes, from oval to square. 

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4. Reinforced Aviators

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These party-ready sunglasses are essentially pumped-up aviators. As their name suggests, they boast thicker rims, and often bigger lenses than their source material.

In the late aughts, club scene trend-setters traded in their wire-rimmed pilot shades for large modern-day masquerade visors. Think Kanye’s shutter shades or Calvin Harris’s fly-eyes.

Oversized reinforced sunglasses never went out of style though. They just evolved into something sleeker and more practical. However, they’re still large enough to be a statement piece or to help you cover most of your face on a hangover day.

Our Favorite: Ray-Ban Aviators

Equal parts performance and style, the Ray-Ban Aviators are a fashion-forward remix of traditional pilots. The amplified black rims are the same thickness throughout, making you look stylishly mysterious or that you might be hiding from paparazzi. 

Ray-Ban Classic Aviator Sunglasses

You know the Ray-Ban 3025. It’s hard to imagine a more iconic pair of sunglasses. So why not join in on the fun? 

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5. Squared Aviators

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Also called “navigators,” squared aviators are just pilot sunglasses with rectangular lenses, giving them a more serious and formal look. The sharper angles go great with the sharp lines of a suit jacket, or a more military-inspired casual look. 

Rectangular frames are great for balancing out rounder faces. Squared aviators, specifically, look cool on a lot of guys because of their generous size.

Our Favorite: The Vincero Marshall

The point of wearing navigators is to look cool yet assertive, and the Vincero Marshalls are as commanding as it gets. The frame and arms are skinny but slick, which draws more attention to the sharp turns on the lenses’ handsome silhouettes.

Vincero Marshall

Also called “navigators,” squared aviators are just pilot sunglasses with rectangular lenses, giving them a more serious and formal look. The sharper angles go great with the sharp lines of a suit jacket, or a more military-inspired casual look. 

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6. Teashade Sunglasses 

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Teashades are circular sunglasses with a thin wire frame. They were John Lennon’s trademark from the Sgt. Pepper days well into the post-Beatles era. 

Naturally, teashade sunglasses became associated with the counterculture movement in the 1960s. They’re too iconic to truly be a sartorial rebellion today, but they’re definitely still associated with artists, musicians, and the creative set.

Even if the only thing you get creative with are your Instagram filters, round sunglasses are a solid choice for any style-loving guy looking to add something unique to his fashion repertoire.

Our Favorite: Revo Lunar

The Revo Lunar’s vintage-inspired round lenses have a modernized silhouette and size, so you won’t look like a time-traveller. Not only are these visually distinct, but they’re souped up with a NASA-based lens technology that’ll make everything look like it’s in HD.

Revo Lunar

Naturally, teashade sunglasses became associated with the counterculture movement in the 1960s. They’re too iconic to truly be a sartorial rebellion today, but they’re definitely still associated with artists, musicians, and the creative set.

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7. Trapezoidal aka The “Wayfarer” Style

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To clear up any confusion, the Wayfarer is indeed a Ray-Ban specific line. However, its trapezoidal design has been used by many other brands to great success. As a shorthand, these “lookalikes” are often just referred to as Wayfarer-style sunglasses.

They’ve been passed around from subculture to subculture, including anti-disco New wavers in the 1970s to yuppie bankers in the 1980s. Today, they’re simply a quintessential American look that sits well on basically any face shape.

Many iconic Wayfarer-style sunglasses are often mistaken for actual Ray-Bans to this day. Audrey Hepburn’s Oliver Goldsmiths are a great example, as are President Kennedy’s American Optical Saratogas, the most famous instance.

Ironically, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer lifestyle is still very much associated with the dapper president.

Our Favorite: American Optical Saratoga

After a decades-long manufacturing pause, AO finally relaunched the real JFK sunglasses in 2019. Fortunately, you don’t need an Ivy League degree and a yacht club membership to pick up a pair of these versatile classics. Just don’t be surprised if people assume you do have those things when you’re sporting Saratogas.

AO Saratoga

To clear up any confusion, the Wayfarer is indeed a Ray-Ban specific line. However, its trapezoidal design has been used by many other brands to great success. As a shorthand, these “lookalikes” are often just referred to as Wayfarer-style sunglasses.

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8. Sport Sunglasses

The most important qualities of good sport shades are their functionalities. They should be especially sun-shielding, but not susceptible to fogging up during sweaty activity. They must be feather light and undistracting, but should be able stay on your face during excessive movement. In the event they do fall off your face, they have to be durable enough to handle a smack from the sidewalk.

And since we have high standards, they should be stylish too. They’re a practical tool at their core, but sport sunglasses that you can rock at brunch get bonus points.

Our Favorite: Blenders Eyewear Full Speed

With a whopping 9 layers of protection, the Blenders Eyewear Full Speed sports sunglasses are the best-kept secret in the game. Their curved arms and anti-slip nose pad will ensure they’ll stay on your face even if you attempt a backflip.

On top of that, they boast a polished and well-structured architecture that’ll make you feel like Iron-Man or Cyclops, depending on the color you choose.


9. Retro Square

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Also called flat-tops, retro squares were born from exaggerated Wayfarer-style shades popularized by European style icons in the 60s. Michael Caine for the lads, Fracois Hardy for the lasses.

After passing through the frosted-tips era of the late 90s, this vintage style came out the other end with a more retro-futuristic look. The top is flatter, the lines are more streamlined, and they’re often decked with shiny hardware or accents.

Retro squares are an adventurous and chic style that have found favor among three unlike sets of guys: Men in the fashion industry, fist-pumping party dudes, and the hip hop crowd—though Hollywood occasionally gets in on the action.

Since they’re so striking, some brands simply incorporate qualities of the retro square style to more understated designs. For you style nuts though, I’ve chosen a pair that boldly goes all the way. 

Our Favorite: The Tom Ford Fausto Square

The Tom Ford Fausto Square sunglasses are undeniably fashion-forward, rocking a thick build, stylish shape, and gold-colored accents. Retro squares are made for fashion lovers, and the Fausto’s look like they came straight from the runway.

Tom Ford Fausto

Retro squares are an adventurous and chic style that have found favor among three unlike sets of guys: Men in the fashion industry, fist-pumping party dudes, and the hip hop crowd---though Hollywood occasionally gets in on the action.

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10. Horn-Rimmed Sunglasses

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Horn-rimmed sunglasses are a predecessor to the Wayfarer and a sometimes-subclass to the browline.

They came from Europe in the 1800s and were originally made from actual tortoise shells. In the early 1910s, the frame style became popular in the US because beloved comedian, Harold Lloyd, was never seen without them. 

Depending on what you wear them with, horn-rimmed sunglasses can look hipster-chic, stylishly preppy, or just classy and intellectual.

Our Favorite: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

Inspired by the 50s, Ray-Ban Clubmasters are designed for the culturally-inclined and the deep thinkers. With so many variations of these elegant shades though, there’s likely a version for every man’s specific style.

The tortoise shells are the refined originals, the blacks are chic, while the metallic rainbow is a colorful style statement.

Ray-Ban Clubmaster

From Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington to the iconic Falling Down with Michael Douglas, Ray Ban's Clubmaster is an icon of retro chic style.

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11. Clear-Rimmed Sunglasses

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In recent years, clear-rimmed sunglasses have become the “it” frame for the style-conscious.

Aesthetically, they’re kind of a wild card. Perfectly clear rims have a clean, modern art look about them. Some have slight tints, giving them a more jewel-like appearance. 

The biggest benefit with clear-rimmed glasses is that any man can easily wear them. Since they’re see-through, they don’t affect your face as much as opaque rims and they go with any complexion. 

Summer is the time to experiment with fun and irreverent styles. So if you’re clear-rim curious, go ahead and try this contemporary look.

Our Favorite: WOODIES Clear Acetate and Wood Sunglasses

If a beach vacation were a pair of shades, they’d be the WOODIES Acetate and Wood sunglasses. The clear frames around the green polarized lenses are a bright and playful combination. This is balanced out with the distinguished arms, most of which are made of real wood.

The WOODIES come in a delightful bamboo box, complete with a guitar pick. If the green lenses are too bright for you, the gray ones are more subdued without taking the fun away.

WOODIES Acetate and Wood

Summer is the time to experiment with fun and irreverent styles. So if you’re clear-rim curious, go ahead and try this contemporary look.

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Shades of Cool 

It’s important to choose the right pair, or pairs, of sunglasses. The wrong ones can make or break an outfit or just sit wrong on your face. On the practical front, they’re necessary protection from the sun’s UV rays.

Have fun experimenting with these 11 different styles. The number one test to figure out whether or not a pair of sunglasses is for you is how you think you look in them. Though, that may be the number two test, next to how your wife thinks you look in them.

For more style tips, subscribe to The Adult Man YouTube channel.

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