A helpful guide to men’s glasses
Buying men’s eyeglasses has to be complicated. After all, you’re not grabbing a made-for-you meal at the grocery store down the street. It’s more like shopping for headphones that have the precise quantity of thumping bass for your taste in music.
Men’s eyeglass frames have to balance your sense of fashion and functionality. Lenses have to match your lifestyle and profession. And, of course, your glasses have to correct your vision and protect your eyesight.
The people who sell sunglasses realize this. That’s why there’s such a mind-boggling variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials from which to choose.
Yes, it’s overwhelming. That’s why we created this guide to men’s glasses. We’ll help you:
Identify the right kinds of glasses for your job, hobbies and activities
Match your frames to your face shape, size and skin tone
Catch up with the latest fashion trends in men’s glasses
Let’s get started finding you the right men’s glasses for your eyes and your world.
Getting started: Matching your glasses to your lifestyle
The first consideration when buying men’s eyeglasses is to assess your lifestyle. Ask yourself some questions, like:
Do you have an active lifestyle that requires frames that are both light and tough enough to protect your eyes and simultaneously endure sports, outdoor activities and hobbies, such as woodworking or carpentry? (Finding athletic frames that fit prescription lenses can be tricky, so be sure to talk that over with your optician.)
Do you need safety-rated lenses for your job or other activities?
Should you consider buying one set of glasses just for staring at your computer or other digital screens?
Should you be filtering out blue light?
What about your fashion sense? Do you prefer bold, understated or purely functional frames? (Need some inspiration? Check out the eyewear choices of famous men throughout history, and these tips on stylish men’s frames).
The links above go to All About Vision articles that delve into the nuances of men’s eyeglasses to considerable depth. Take your time and read through the stories that catch your eye for some expert advice before choosing your next pair of glasses.
Matching your frames to your face shape
Shoes have to fit your feet. Pants need to fit your legs. And glasses should fit your face shape. The idea that faces have specific categories of shapes is a little hard to wrap your head around at first. Let’s take a look at how face shape applies to buying men’s glasses.
Glasses for round faces
A round face means you have uniformly shaped features. Cheeks and forehead are about the same width. You have a rounded chin, and your face has a soft look.
The best choice for this face shape are men’s rectangular glasses with frames that emphasize width more than than height. Rectangular glasses give a round face more contour and lengthen a face optically, making it look narrower. Rectangular frames also add structure and definition.
To work best with a round face, frames should be elegant but not too thin. Avoid round or oval glasses, which will make your face look rounder.
Glasses for heart-shaped faces
How can a face be shaped like a heart? It’s like this: Your most prominent features are a broad forehead, pronounced cheekbones and a narrow chin. You’ve hit the genetic jackpot if you were born with a heart-shaped face because most frames will look good on you.
A pair of men’s eyeglasses with similar angles will flatter a heart-shaped face — especially angled frames that widen near the top. These add a bit of contour to a face.
Oval and round men’s glasses also flatter heart-shaped faces, helping to create contrast and balance. Delicate frames provide a softer look, whereas bright colors and wide frames might not be the best choice for you.
Glasses for oval faces
An oval face also looks good in just about any style of men’s eyeglasses. What do we mean by oval? Well, look for a narrow chin and forehead with more pronounced cheeks. Your face is almost twice as long as it is wide.
An oval face can support most styles, from round glasses to angular glasses to a bolder style. Just make sure the frames are neither too big nor too small. And try to avoid narrow frames, which lengthen a face’s proportion visually. A soft, symmetrical frame with a rigid structure and a round bottom is a good fit for an oval face.
Glasses for square faces
A square face has an equally broad forehead, cheeks and chin. Your jaw is probably somewhat pronounced, and your face may look distinctive or angular. A square face looks great in oval or round men's glasses as these shapes soften angular features.
The rounded frames of men’s aviator glasses usually flatter a square, angular face. Square frames, by contrast, emphasize an angular face, creating a more severe look — which is fine if that’s what you’re going for.
Finding the right tone, shade or color
Your glasses sit right next to your skin, so you want them to complement each other.
If you have a warm skin tone, avoid contrasting colors or white or black frames. Instead, look for hues that are brown, beige or olive green. (Men’s tortoiseshell glasses may be a good match).
If you have a cool skin tone, choose silver, white, black, pink, purple, grey or darker tortoise shades.
Getting the frame size right
Is your face narrower or wider at the cheeks, or somewhere in the middle? Figuring out your face’s width is the next step to finding the ideal size in men’s glasses. If you already have a pair of glasses, measure them from cheek to cheek to determine the width of your face.
You also need the right frame size — not too large nor too small — for the width of your face to prevent slips and keep the earpieces from squeezing your pressure points too hard. What’s the difference?
Ideally, you want to match your glasses to the width of your face. But you can ignore this rule if you simply prefer wearing glasses that are too big or too small. Just check with your optician to make sure they’ll stay on your face comfortably.
Your frames should reflect both fashion and function
Eyeglass frames can tell people a lot about your personality. You may want multiple frames to show off different facets of what it means to be you.
One pair of glasses could showcase your fun-loving side for nights and weekends, while another pair might convey your serious side at the office. Think about choosing your favorite color for the frames to express your personality.
You also need frames that suit your hobbies and activities — especially if they pose a risk to your eyes. If you're more active, go for frames that can twist and bend without breaking. Gamers might want a stylish look that can enhance their gaming experience.
At the office or on the job site, find the right combination for getting work done. Serious, conservative frames might be the right fit in an accounting firm, but it may be cool to go wild if you work in a graphic design agency.
And we cannot repeat this enough: If your job requires anything that could harm your eyes, you need protective lenses — especially if you have a prescription.
Eyeglass trends for 2021
New looks in eyeglasses hit the market every year. These trends are bound to show up in your quest for new eyeglasses:
Men’s transparent glasses are here to stay. You’ve seen them, no doubt: plastic frames that are essentially see-through. Some transparent frames come in pale, neutral colors, but if you like a little flare or flash, they’re also available in some electric shades.
Admittedly, these frames have bounced in to and out of fashion. They’ve just made an even stronger comeback this time around.
That’s why it seems like transparent eyewear is everywhere these days. White and clear plastic have captivated fashion designers. That’s good news because transparent glasses can mix with just about any apparel.
Note that transparency is big for men and women alike in 2021. If you want a more deliberately masculine vibe, transparency might not be your thing.
It’s hard to beat basic black. The inky tone of black frames goes well with the sturdy lines of basic rectangular black frames. These, in turn, complement cheekbones, robust facial features and an oval face shape.
Black glasses give you breathing room to wear contrasting colors and prints. You can’t always do that with colored or patterned frames.
Going neutral with black glasses doesn’t mean you can’t get bold with your eyewear. Indeed, the right kind of black glasses can be a bold accessory to formal wear. Perhaps best of all, black glasses for men never truly go out of style.
If you feel like ditching your thick-frame glasses, there’s no time like now to make the change. The carefully sculpted lines of slim frames should be a good match for pretty much any face shape or skin tone.
For example, consider a pair of slim, half-rim frames for a stylish and modern look.
Round-frame glasses are a trendy choice for men and come in all sorts of configurations. Some styles even reflect the horn-rimmed vibe that made Ray-Ban an iconic brand for sunglasses.
Round glasses for men definitely give off a vintage vibe — no less than Elton John, John Lennon and Mahatma Gandhi have worn them. But let’s not get locked in the past. Round frames are on the rebound in styles to suit all face types. Styles include clear frames, small round glasses and large round frames.
SEE RELATED: John Lennon glasses: Get the iconic rock star look
Men’s oversized glasses never go out of style. If you’re tired of narrow frame glasses, consider grabbing people’s attention with something on the larger end of the spectrum. In 2021, look for “butterfly” and flared styles that evoke a mix of vintage and modern.
If you have a round face, boxy frames will suit you. This style delivers a retro-bookish look while flattering the geometry of your face.
Popular entertainers are leaning into hipster eyeglasses for men to evoke a creative culture and urban vibe. Thick black men’s hipster glasses suit guys with a wild and robust personality. Large square shapes or different patterns may also be worth a look.
You might check out the men’s browline glasses that mimic the way eyebrows frame your face. This style best fits a narrow face because it creates a stronger sense of fullness. All eyes will be on your bold choice of frames, and the style will help detract from any facial “flaws” you may be hoping to hide.
Blue light blocking lenses
A lot of us will keep working from home as long as the COVID-19 pandemic poses a danger. That means we’ll spend more time staring into computer screens, which emit blue light that can strain the eyes, disrupt sleep and cause potential long-term vision damage.
Eyeglass lenses that filter blue light could help address these problems. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of blue-light blocking lenses, and as the debate over blue light glasses continues, expect to see a lot more coverage of this topic in 2021.
Page published in February 2021
Page updated in March 2022