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Where are the best places to buy sunglasses?

man shopping for sunglasses

Some things about sunglasses are non-negotiable. Like the fact that you need to wear them whenever you head outside. Failing to do so allows the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays to damage your cornea and retina, putting you at risk of some very serious eye conditions (such as cataracts or macular degeneration). 

What is negotiable about sunglasses? Where to buy them!

Quality sunglasses that protect your eyes and look great at the same time are not necessarily hard to find, but it might be tough to decide where to shop for a pair that fits your budget and your style because, well, there are just so many options. 

Should you buy your sunglasses online? Head to a mall? Go to a store that specializes in eyewear? Buy an expensive pair? We’re here to help you figure it all out, with details on the best places to buy sunglasses. 

Best places to buy sunglasses online

EYEBUYDIRECT: When you find the perfect pair of sunglasses online, you don’t want to wait weeks to show off your new look. EyeBuyDirect now offers delivery in two business days in the United States. That speedy delivery will cost you, but it includes a premium case. 

If you can’t decide what kind of sunglasses to get, you can shop EyeBuyDirect’s sunglasses by frame shape or color in men’s and women’s styles — all for under $50. 

Searching for a more unique look? EyeBuyDirect has teamed up with Queer Eye’s resident fashion expert Tan France to present a curated collection of fashion sunglasses. 

GLASSESSHOP: If you are committed to buying your next pair of sunnies without going to an actual brick-and-mortar store, you probably want to find an online retailer that makes the selection process very easy. Simplicity reigns at GlassesShop

GlassesShop has been around since 2004, and the company specializes in stylish frames that easily fit into most budgets (we’re talking under $35 for even the most on-trend designs). What really sets this American-owned purveyor of sunglasses apart, though, is the level of detail on their website. 

Want to know the dimensions of the bridge, frame, arm and lenses? The weight? The materials used in manufacturing? They’ve got you covered. You can even upload your own photo to “try on” your new sunglasses before completing the transaction and, if necessary, add a prescription. 

DIFF CHARITABLE EYEWEAR: For online shoppers interested in buying sunglasses from a smaller company with a philanthropic spirit, check out DIFF Charitable Eyewear. DIFF’s “buy one/give one” program provides a pair of glasses to a person in need for each pair of sunglasses sold. 

The company’s eyewear is exclusive, too, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Sounds expensive, but it isn’t — all of DIFF’s sunglasses are under $100, and they offer a cool rewards program that allows customers to earn points for things like following the company on social media, referring a friend and even just having a birthday. 

Are expensive sunglasses better?

So are all these budget-friendly sunglasses sold online going to do the important work of protecting your eyes? Or is it necessary to shell out a few hundred bucks to get a decent pair that will a) adequately shield your eyes from the sun and b) look chic? It depends. 

While many people have been doing just fine with “cheap” sunglasses for years, some bargain sunnies don’t make the cut. The key is making sure the lenses offer embedded UV protection (the label or product description should let you know, but when in doubt, ask an optician).

If your sunglasses don’t in fact protect you from the sun, you’ll want to pass on them and find a better option. 

Expensive sunglasses, therefore, are not necessarily “better” — just different. How so? Well, many are handmade and/or constructed of superior materials (think: titanium frames and crystal lenses), which can result in a more precise fit and finish. If this is what you're after, Persol is definitely a best “where to buy” bet. 

While Persol sunglasses will set you back upwards of $200 (and even $700+ for certain special editions), you’ll definitely appreciate the quality and aesthetics of the product. Plus, the Persol website offers free shipping and returns, as well as a loyalty program that provides free monogramming, early access to new releases and other member perks. 

Which sunglasses brand is best?

So, what does the expensive vs. cheap dilemma mean for an individual shopping for the best sunglasses within their own budget? Well, it really just means there are a ton of excellent brands out there at a variety of price points. The best sunglasses brand is the brand that best meets your needs. 

If having a plentiful selection will help you figure this all out, Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters are sound shopping options. For one thing, both stores carry quintessential brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley and Maui Jim. They also carry designer/luxury labels (Prada, Burberry, Tiffany and the above-mentioned handmade Persol sunglasses, to name a few) and many other brands in a wide range of prices. 

Plus, both stores are very easy to find. Sunglass Hut has more than 1,600 stores across the United States (many of them in shopping malls), and LensCrafters allows would-be customers to easily search for locations online via ZIP code. 

Both stores also offer easy online ordering and special discounts for certain shoppers (Sunglass Hut, for example, offers a 15% discount for first responders; LensCrafters gives AAA members 30% off). 

As an added bonus, LensCrafters stores offer eye exams on-site — so if you want prescription lenses for your sunglasses, you can take care of that at the same time you are picking out your swanky new frames. 

READY TO SHOP FOR SUNGLASSES? Use our guide above then find an optical store near you or shop online to get the best shades for your face shape and price point.

Where (and when) NOT to buy sunglasses?

We’ve covered the best places to buy sunglasses, but there are also a few places (and times) when it’s best not to buy your next pair. 

Where you ask? When you’re flying to a beach vacation, don’t wait to buy your sunglasses at the airport. Buying sunglasses while you wait for a flight often means you’ll pay airport prices for your cool-looking shades. 

And make sure to pack your sunglasses in your carry-on — if your luggage goes missing or arrives late, a hotel or resort gift shop is not one of the best places to buy sunglasses. You’ll pay more for your sun protection and you’ll have little selection. 

Pro tip: Plan ahead and save. Shop online or in your favorite sunglasses store. You’ll pay less for your sunnies and have more choices.

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