The Best Sunglasses Brands For Men
Protect your retinas in style this summerImage: Quay AustraliaBY RICHARD JONES
Is there any other item in a man’s wardrobe that has the same transformative power as a pair of sunglasses? Within seconds you can go from sad dad squinting over the barbecue, eyes watering from the sun and pollen, to smooth rock star preparing to take the Pyramid stage by storm.
No matter how debonair they look, however, the main role of a pair of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from UV damage caused by the sun. If you’re wearing cheap plasticky styles because you’ve got form for sitting on them, bear in mind that your retinas are getting roasted.
To shield them properly, look out for ‘CE’ or ‘ANSI’ marked on your shades – usually on one of the temples. This shows that the lenses comply with common standards by blocking out 95 per cent of UV rays below 380 nanometres (light is measured in nanometres with damaging UVB rays measuring between 320 and 390 nanometres).
Other Buying Considerations
Materials matter. As a general rule, lens materials CR-39 (a plastic made from hard resin) and polycarbonate (a synthetic material) are lightweight but not particularly scratch-resistant, while glass lenses are heavier but better built to withstand the impact that leads to scratches forming.
Similarly, plastic frames (including acetate) are lightweight and malleable but not as durable and corrosion-resistant as metal. Other details that mark a quality pair of shades apart from imposters include springs at the hinges to allow the arms to open wider when worn, and padding at the bridge so that they sit comfortably at the top of your nose.
Aside from choosing a design that suits your face shape, the other buying consideration to remember is that if you’re planning on driving or spending time near the water, think about polarised lenses. “Polarised lenses reduce glare from reflective surfaces and [by extension reduce] eye fatigue,” says Andie White, frame buyer at MyOptique Group.
All of the major fashion houses have a sideline in shades, while the market ranges from heritage brands like Ray-Ban and Persol, which have been there since the beginning, to hip independents like Mykita and Monokel. So while we peel our gaze away from the office screen and onto the shimmering sun coming in through the window, keep your peepers protected and put your eyes onto our list of the best sunglasses brands in the world.
If you’re one of those people who by happenchance leaves their sunglasses/phone/life savings/family cat every time you get up from a chair at the pub then you might want to think about going for a budget pair of shades. No one does saving your pennies better than H&M on the high street. It covers most of the go-to styles of sunglasses, usually made out of plastic, so watch them in the melting sun – though it does have some premium options constructed from acetate, too.
Despite the fabulous pun in their name, there ain’t nothing scary about the retro stylings of these sunnies. The British brand has built a cult following, largely down to the fact that the sunglasses are so readily available, and usually discounted on ASOS. It’s also built a strong network on social media with an Instagram chock-a-block with candid photos of influencers having fun with some of its outrageous shapes, embracing the fact that sunnies can be a little silly as well as UV sensible.
Outfitting hipsters since 1970, Urban Outfitters is a department store selling all manner of vintage-inspired clothing and mini cacti (obviously). In terms of its garments, it runs a load of brands alongside its own products, but the range of sunglasses is almost exclusively own brand.
You can pick up cheaper sunnies elsewhere on the high street, but the UO collection is a little more stylish, with plenty of tortoiseshell on offer. The frames can be a little flimsy, but they’ll certainly get you through that heavy Glasto weekender – fallow year permitting.
Spanish eyewear company Hawkers is a relative newcomer in the war against summer squinting. Founded in 2013 and only available via its website, Hawkers has built its business through a burgeoning social media presence and glamorous lookbooks in oh-so-fancy locations like Positano and Capri in Italy. Its mantra is quality at value, and the polycarbonate frames are tough and durable. Style-wise the sunglasses are solid, if not particularly cutting edge, updating famous shapes like the Ray-Ban Wayfarer or the Oakley Frogskin and offering bold colours in the lens or frame.
The monocle may have gone out of vogue some 200 years ago but its namesake, bar a missing and misplaced letter – Monokel – is currently one of the trendiest places to buy sunglasses. A Swedish unisex label, Monokel makes all of its frames from a recycled acetate. The look tends to be rounded, chunky and 1960s-influenced with lots of tortoise-shell, amber and green. A fine option if you want to spend some money but not on one of the obvious brands.
The brand that brought us instant photography long before your phone packed a camera is also the one responsible for polarised lenses in sunglasses. Blocking glare and harmful UV zaps from the sun, Polaroid offers some of the best protection at prices you won’t want to shield your eyes from. Its frames skew classic with just the occasional flash of a coloured lens, if you like that kind of thing.
Since it was founded in 2004, Quay has swiftly risen to become the ‘It girl’s’ choice of sun-protecting specs with ringing endorsements from Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Paris Hilton. However this year, the Australian brand launched its first men’s collection because us ‘It boys’ care about our retinas too.
The styles are not nearly as garish as that reputation may sound – usually updates on classic shapes at about a third of the price of the designers they reference. Once again, tortoiseshell is a favourite – those slow-moving reptiles are real trendsetters.
If the ladies of Coachella aren’t found in Quay, then they’re sure to be wearing a pair of Perverse sunglasses. Based in California, Perverse was founded by businesswoman Toni Ko who sold her first company NYX cosmetics to L’Oreal for a rumoured $500 million.
Perverse shares the same affordable glamour factor as Ko’s earlier venture with the oversized shade dominating. It also sells as unisex so that you can go his and hers to Coachella if you so please. The brand ships internationally, and even with the added costs, comes in at a snip compared to its rivals.
You couldn’t move in the 1990s without bumping into someone sporting a pair of Oakleys. The company had started out of the garage of founder James Jannard in 1975, originally making motorcycle grips, then moving into ski goggles before the release of its first sunglasses, the Factory Pilot Eyeshades in 1984.
Keeping a sporty feel, these set the blueprint for the Oakley we know today. With its credentials on the slopes it’s no surprise then that most pairs offer polarised lenses to deflect unwanted glare (in fact performance vision really is the name of the game here). You wouldn’t wear many pairs to a summer wedding (we hope) but if you’re on the water this summer or driving in the sun, you can’t go wrong at this pricepoint.
Is there any other company in fashion so synonymous with its product as Ray-Ban, which has been staring out the competition for more than 80 years? There are other brands, as this list can attest, but for a range of classic styles at a premium – but not too extortionate – price point, Ray-Ban sits on top.
Originally designed to cut out the glare from the sun for US Air Force pilots in the 1930s, the world of Hollywood soon came calling. Marlon Brando wore aviators in The Wild One, The Blues Brothers famously wore Wayfarers, as did Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Tim Roth wore the Clubmaster in Reservoir Dogs. The moral of the story is, if you want to look like a screen legend, Ray-Ban is the way to go.
The only other label that can match Ray-Ban for its illustrious history is Persol, which was founded 20 years earlier in 1917. Meaning ‘for the sun’ in Italian, Persol pioneered its trademark yellow-brown lens in the 1920s when Ray-Ban was still in its gestation period. Later, where the Americans had James Dean, Persol had fellow counterculture icon Steve McQueen who wore the glasses in The Thomas Crown Affair. Persol also has the patent on the world’s first flexible stem system which allows for bend so its sleek frames can adapt to the shape of your face.
Walking into the most recent Cubitts store on London’s Jermyn Street, you feel like you’re entering the atelier of some fine and extravagant jewellers.
Your beachside tat seller this ain’t. As an optician first and foremost the brand offers free tests and prescription lenses, but its sunglasses are available without these lenses and don’t skimp on their top-level UV400 protection. Expect retro frames with a particular nod to the 1960s, all of which go through 50 stages of production with four separate stages of polishing.
What do the fictional characters of Tyler Durden, Patrick Bateman and Vincent Chase from Entourage all have in common? Well, other than the wide berth you’d likely give them down a dark alleyway they have all been seen on screen sporting a pair of Oliver Peoples eyewear. The brand is Hollywood through and through, opening its first boutique on Sunset Boulevard in 1986.
Its designs are vintage repurposed for the modern day and surprisingly unflashy for a Tinseltown brand. It also offers 100 percent UVA protection and seven-barrel hinges on the frames (most average sunglasses only have three), so they stand a greater chance of survival when you flop on the deckchair while they’re still in your back pocket.
If Karl Lagerfeld jumped into a nuclear reactor and turned into a sunnies-designing rhombicosidodecahedron, we still don’t think the styles could match Mykita for sheer edginess. Based in Berlin (where else?) it’s been making eyewear since 2003 and can count collaborations with fellow hype brands Maison Margiela and Moncler on its CV. It has simpler designs in its stacked arsenal but if you’re going to spend £500 why not go for something on the Zoolander side of the spectrum – the Nita standing out for its unnerving similarities to the Birds Nest Stadium from the Beijing Olympics.
It may be better known for its luxury pens and watches, but Montblanc’s eyewear range offers the same kind of dapper, globetrotting style the brand is known for. Made in Italy with eyewear specialists Marcolin (which produces sunglasses for fashion houses as diverse as Balenciaga and Timberland), it’s a classic, masculine range made up of timeless shapes and colours.
If the sumptuous Tom Ford-directed film A Single Man taught us anything it’s that the man knows good eyewear. Of course, the ones Colin Firth sported in the film were clear, but pop in some darkened lenses and Tom Ford’s your uncle with a cinematic, 1960s influence that pervades the designer’s work (though this is another brand licensed by Marcolin). Alongside slimmer, more timeless frames Tom Ford also has humongous squared shapes if you want to go all-out VIP, while all the lenses are 100 percent UV protected.
Cutler And Gross
Culter and Gross is a British eyewear founded by, whoever would have guessed it, a man called Culter and a man called Gross, when they met at optometry school in London in the 1960s. In the last half-century, the brand has grown into one of the biggest in high fashion eyewear with regular appearances on catwalks around the four major fashion weeks. It even has its own museum.
Alongside classic options, expect bold, angular designs in colours often brighter than you’d expect, and palladium frames – one of the rarest and most lustrous silvery-white metals. Plus the highest UV protection, of course.
top rated sunglasses brands
top 10 expensive sunglasses brands in the world
The best polarized sunglasses
Owen Burke Oct 22, 2019, 11:14 AM
When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.THE BEST POLARIZED SUNGLASSES OVERALLRay-Ban Clubmasters$243.00Available on Sunglass HutBUY NOWThe lightweight but sturdy aluminum frame and thick, scratch- and shatter-resistant metal-rimmed glass lenses keep the timeless Ray-Ban Clubmasters on par with the best.READ MORE >>THE BEST BUDGET POLARIZED SUNGLASSESGamma Ray Polarized Wraparound Sport$14.99Available on AmazonBUY NOWGamma Ray’s Polarized Wraparound Sport and Cheaters are fully serviceable shades for an exponentially lower price than the rest of the sunglasses we recommend, so losing them won’t keep you up at night.READ MORE >>THE BEST FOR OUTDOORSSmith Redmond Polarchromic Sunglasses$239.00Available on REIBUY NOWSmith Optics’ ChromaPop lens technology filters two wavelengths of light that cause color confusion, while the brand’s array of lens tints is designed to cover every kind of light (and water) condition you might face in the great outdoors.READ MORE >>THE BEST SUSTAINABLE POLARIZED SUNGLASSESCosta x Bureo Pescador Sunglasses$199.00Available on PatagoniaBUY NOWDetailed but still sleek, Costa x Bureo’s polarized sunglass frames are made with plastic recovered from fishing nets off the coast of Chile and Costa Del Mar’s top-notch plastic or glass frames.READ MORE >>THE BEST FOR PRESCRIPTION LENSESWarby Parker Durand sunglasses$95.00Available on Warby ParkerBUY NOWIf you don’t want to spend upward of $500 on a pair of prescription sunnies, Warby Parker has a ton of styles ranging from $175 for a basic prescription to $375 for progressive lenses.READ MORE >>
- The best polarized sunglasses for you are going to vary based on the shape of your face and the activities you plan to engage in.
- Our favorite all-around unisex pick for those who plan to do a bit of everything is Ray-Ban’s Clubmasters with an aluminum frame.
- You can also check out our guides to the best men’s sunglasses.
While sunscreen and skin care have been a popular topic in light of a recent FDA ruling on ingredient listing requirements, many of us neglect to give our eyes the protection they deserve. Cheaply designed sunglasses that we don’t mind scratching may seem like the way to go when they’re so easy to lose and scratch regardless of cost, but poorly designed sunglasses often leave our retinas exposed to harmful UV rays that can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and myriad other troubles down the line.
Then there are more immediate matters for concern, like snow blindness, especially when we’re near water, which is highly reflective in all its physical states. While snow blindness clears after a few days, it will leave you with the unpleasant sensation of having something along the lines of smoldering embers trapped inside your eyes, which is a mild nuisance at very best.
When choosing a pair of sunglasses — no matter how much you want to spend, and whether they’re polarized or not — make certain that the lenses have a UV rating of 400, which indicates that they effectively prevent the maximum wavelength of UV rays (measured in nanometers) from passing through to your own lenses.
Also, take into account frames. Full wrap-around frames are the best option for protection, as they keep out stray light that would otherwise have you squinting all day. But then they’re not exactly necessary (or savvy) on the street, and we get that, so we have thin-framed options below, too.
Polarized lenses add another level of protection by reducing glare brought on by reflection, or horizontal light. While not always necessary (and often frustrating, especially when trying to operate electronics), polarized lenses are generally worth having, even if you go for a cheap pair. The main difference with a cheap pair of polarized shades is that you won’t have the clarity of a high-grain glass or quality resin, which might leave you squinting a lot, and you’ll have a harder time seeing your phone screen while wearing them, which, in our opinion, is worth dropping a few extra dollars for most people.
Here are the best polarized sunglasses you can buy:
- Best polarized sunglasses overall: Ray-Ban Clubmasters with aluminum frames
- Best budget polarized sunglasses: Gamma Ray Polarized Cheaters and Wrap Around Sports
- Best polarized sunglasses for outdoors: Smith Optics ChromaPop
- Best sustainable polarized sunglasses: Costa x Bureo’s Untangled collection
- Best prescription polarized sunglasses: Warby Parker prescription sunglasses
- Best folding polarized sunglasses: Persol 714
Updated on 10/22/2019 by Owen Burke: Updated links, formatting, and prices.
The best polarized sunglasses overall
The lightweight but sturdy aluminum frame and thick, scratch- and shatter-resistant metal-rimmed glass lenses keep the timeless Ray-Ban Clubmasters on par with the best.
Thick glass lenses held by an aluminum frame make the Ray-Ban Clubmasters an easy, nearly indestructible choice for people on the move, and while they’re still among the more popular — and arguably tired — designs, they at least give the Aviator and Wayfarer shapes a rest.
I was gifted a pair a couple of years ago, and while it’s safe to say almost every pair of shades I’ve owned before or since has taken on a scratch or two at least, this pair has survived just about everything. I should add that I’m extremely rough on sunglasses. I even managed to sit on this pair — strictly for testing purposes — and unbend it from an unnatural 45-degree angle without creasing, let alone snapping the bridge piece.
I’ve also dropped and kicked them (again, for testing) across fiberglass decks, marble floors, and concrete sidewalks, and they’ve somehow survived it all. These things are just simply not like the others.
Aesthetically, the Clubmasters seem to suit just about every face shape and outfit, no matter how formal or relaxed, and perhaps that’s why they’re so iconic. While they lack the full wraparound protection of sportier options, we don’t assume most of you will be bopping about town in what could reasonably be mistaken for a tinted pair of safety goggles pilfered from your father’s workshop — we certainly won’t be. But we’ll never judge, and if we’re completely out of touch, there’s an option below for you, too.
Pros: Fit for any occasion, sturdy
Cons: Pricey, a small amount of light passes through the sides, which doesn’t make for the best protection in direct sunlight$243.00 FROM SUNGLASS HUT
The best budget polarized sunglasses
Gamma Ray’s Polarized Wraparound Sport and Cheaters are fully serviceable shades for an exponentially lower price than the rest of the sunglasses we recommend, so losing them won’t keep you up at night.
If you’re looking for a cheap pair of driving lenses, or just aren’t willing to dish out for another pair of Ray-Bans or Maui Jims because you’ve lost and broken so many that it hurts, a pair or three of either Gamma Ray’s Polarized Cheaters (a Wayfarer-style) or Wrap Around Sports (the sportier version pictured above) should do you well.
While they’re nowhere near as durable as the other sunglasses we’re recommending here, they do come with a lifetime warranty (though we haven’t tested it, yet) against both scratching and shattering. If you can manage to find a case for them, they might last a whole lot longer.
Gamma Ray has gotten praise from both Wirecutter for the Cheater model, and Lifehacker for its computer glasses. Meanwhile, more than 1,200 Amazon buyers gave the Wrap Around Sports an average of 4 stars, and more than 400 Amazon buyers also gave the Cheaters an average of 4 stars.
Pros: Metal-reinforced hinges, budget-friendly
Cons: Cheap nylon frames will break if you’re not careful$14.99 FROM AMAZON
The best for outdoors
Smith Optics’ ChromaPop lens technology filters two wavelengths of light that cause color confusion, while the brand’s array of lens tints is designed to cover every kind of light (and water) condition you might face in the great outdoors.
In 1965, orthodontist and ski bum Dr. Bob Smith developed the first sealed thermal lens and vent foam goggles, what came to be known and revered as the modern ski goggle. But he didn’t stop there, and his line of sunglasses is no less revolutionary.
Smith’s ChromaPop lenses come in six different tints, all geared toward different lighting, so whether you’re inshore fishing on a gray day or offshore on a bluebird one, they’ve got the lens for you. On a recent fly fishing trip in Hawaii, I realized, perhaps a little too late in the day, that the shades I’d brought along were not defining the elusive bonefish I was trying to spot — not as well as my guide’s Smiths were. We switched glasses at the end of the day and I was suddenly spotting the “gray ghosts” left and right. I’m still kicking myself.
Granted, to run the gamut of light situations you’ll encounter as an angler, you’ll need at least two pairs of sunglasses. This, of course, isn’t cheap, but then performance optics hardly ever are.
But Smith doesn’t just cater to anglers; the brand also has a performance line designed for runners and cyclists with removable lenses — I only wish they’d offer interchangeable lenses with their ChromaPop fishing line.
Around the web, Amazon users give Smith a formidable 4.7-star rating overall, and premier fly fishing publication Hatch calls Smith’s Techlite Polarchromic Copper lenses “the most versatile pair of fishing sunglasses on the market.”
Pros: Lens tints for all light, fishing-, performance-, and lifestyle-specific frames
Cons: Can be pricey$239.00 FROM REI
The best sustainable polarized sunglasses
Detailed but still sleek, Costa x Bureo’s polarized sunglass frames are made with plastic recovered from fishing nets off the coast of Chile and Costa Del Mar’s top-notch plastic or glass frames.
Sunglass manufacturer Costa recently teamed up with skateboard company Bureo, which has been producing these sunglasses with frames made entirely from recycled fishing nets. Now that Costa is popping its high-end glass lenses into the glasses, they’re a little pricier, but we think they’re much more scratch-resistant now, and they’re worth it. Plus, you get to help out the environment and a Chilean fishing community through your purchase.
A slightly sportier take on classic Wayfarers, Costa x Bureo’s are tumble-finished for a detailed finish and grip to keep them neatly propped on the bridge of your nose. The lenses are Costa’s patented 580 Lightwave plastic or glass, and they offer full 400-nm UV protection while selectively filtering out high energy visible light (blue light) and yellows to cut haze and offer better crispness, which any angler ought to appreciate.
Oh, and In-Fisherman digs them, too.
For a less-expensive, similarly eco-friendly and sustainable pair of sunnies, check out Swell Vision’s glasses, which are made from bamboo. They’re ultra-lightweight, come with sturdy double-jointed metal hinges that allow for a little play in the temples, and did we mention that they float?
Pros: Sustainably made, high-end lenses, full 400-nm UV protection
Cons: Pricey$199.00 FROM PATAGONIA
The best for prescription lenses
If you don’t want to spend upward of $500 on a pair of prescription sunnies, Warby Parker has a ton of styles ranging from $175 for a basic prescription to $375 for progressive lenses.
Born out of necessity by traveling students who were fed up with replacing overpriced glasses, Warby Parker has established itself as the budget-friendly, socially-responsible option for prescription lenses and sunglasses alike.
While you’ll spend a small fortune ordering prescription lenses along with some of the other frames on this list, Warby Parker covers a good swathe of styles while staying kind to your wallet. The company also promises that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair will be donated to someone in need.
If you can afford them, it would be hard to build a case for not buying your sunglasses from Warby Parker, but they do fall short of offering a set of frames that cater to sportier souls who might like or require a pair that offers a little better protection from stray light.
In almost every aspect, Warby Parker should probably have you covered. We like the sleekness of the unisex Durand model, but they touch on everything from aviators and wayfarers to Lennons and Jackies.
Pros: Affordable, durable
Cons: No warranty (apart from one-year scratch repairs), no thick frames for protection from intense, direct sunlight$95.00 FROM WARBY PARKER
The best folding polarized sunglasses
Persol’s folding 714 sunglasses are made with scratch-resistant crystal lenses, robust hardware, timeless style.
While we recommend Ray-Ban overall for polarized shades, we’ve found Persol to hold better quality and hardware overall, especially since they’re still made the same way they were when the brand was founded over 100 years ago. Their hardware is more robust, and their lenses are more scratch-resistant.
Ray-Ban’s a wonderful brand again, despite having undergone some changes and some serious quality fluctuations in the early aughts that would have spelled death for most any other brand, thanks almost entirely to Luxottica (ironically or not, also the proprietor of Persol, for what it’s worth).
But with folding shades — which you’re going to end up putting in your pocket, without a case — require a robust set of hardware, and heavier-duty lenses, of which Persol’s crystal ones are exemplary.
The 714 sunglasses are a folding version of the brand’s 649, save for a few minor details. And this iteration of them is hardly any different from the original, other than that they fold inward, rather than downward, which seems to make more sense overall. Still, make sure to have a sunglasses screwdriver on hand to keep the screws in place (you’ll only have to do this every once in a while).
I’ve been wearing the McQueens for several months now and I’ve had them in and out of airports, shirt pockets, car consoles, and the sea. And, more often than not, as is my wont, I’ve done so without a case (yes, shame on me indeed). I’ve yet to scratch them. My Ray-Ban Aviators and Wayfarers? I’m sad to say they live deep in my glove compartment (also careless) for emergencies, rest their souls.
If you’re looking for a sturdy pair of shades you can toss around (but most certainly shouldn’t) and won’t get scratched like plastic or regular, thinner glass, the Person 714 sunglasses will remain timeless through your final years, however distant they may be.
Pros: Scratch-resistant crystal lenses, robust hardware, timeless style
Cons: Spendy$222.00 FROM FRAMES DIRECT
What else we considered
I’ve been testing polarized sunglasses since I started wearing them to fish when I was about 10 years old, and in the interim, I’ve tested dozens upon dozens of them. There are a few key features that make a good pair of polarized shades, and the brands below all tick those boxes, but for reasons discussed below, they’re not on our main list of picks.
- Maui Jim (starting at $249.99): While polarized lenses are a given, the best sunglasses for a day at sea are only as good as their frames. And since most of us won’t probably succumb to wearing cataract sunglasses or the like — at least not until our rightful time — Maui Jim’s World Cup shades more than suffice. The only reason we didn’t include them as a main pick is that the brand doesn’t offer as much style versatility as Ray-Ban or Persol, nor does it make shades for specific light levels.
- Native Eyeware ($108.98-$129): A similar, more affordable on-the-water option is Native Eyewear’s Sightcaster, which is similar in design and profile, but about half the price. The Sightcasters come with Native’s interchangeable N3 lenses, which is something we wish Smith Optics would do, but Natives aren’t quite as technical compared with Smith’s. Still, they’re wonderful fishing-specific glasses, and if you’re on a budget but still want some high-quality lenses, look no further.
- Persol (starting at $290): Persol offers an elevated look (at an elevated price), but you get the best hardware around, and there’s something to be said for that. While we know and love Persol well, their prices are prohibitive for most people, so we didn’t include them in our top picks. That said, if you have the extra money and degree of care, they’ll last a lifetime.