Buying Sunglasses

Best women’s sunglasses for your face shape

Woman with sunglasses holding up her fingers to frame her face shape
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A good pair of sunglasses does more than block the glare, it provides the finishing touch to an outfit -- and the right pair can work with many. It’s fun to experiment with sunglass styles. Just remember that unlike anything else you wear, sunglasses can transform your face. Learn to use that for good, not evil.

When shopping for sunglasses it helps to start by identifying your face shape. Some sunglass vendors list which styles work best for certain face shapes, but it helps to develop a critical eye of your own.

If you find it hard to pinpoint your face shape, you are not alone. Faces are often a combination and morph a bit as you age, gain or lose weight, or change hairstyles.

But there is a basic shape to that familiar mug of yours, and matching it to the right pair of sunglasses can work wonders.

Round face shape

The round face shape is as wide as it is long. When choosing sunglasses for a round face, the first rule is not to overwhelm. A little curve is fine but teardrop lenses look better than perfect circles and ovals will create the illusion of length.

Emma Stone, a round-faced beauty, looks best when she avoids oversize round lenses in wire frames. They too closely mirror the dimensions of her face. A little detail at the temples helps lengthen her face, as do contrasting lighter frames.

Being a ginger, Stone looks great in amber-colored retro frames with complementary green lenses.

Selena Gomez is a round-faced trendsetter who often throws caution to the wind with John Lennon-style wire frames with tiny round blue or orange lenses. They are adorable, but wire frames emphasize her own small, round face and features.

Gomez looks best in aviators  or classic-shaped, colorful acetate frames with gradient lenses that lend her a few elegant angles.

Square face shape

Like the round face, a square-shaped face is about as wide as it is long but with a square jawline.

Two famous faces that fit this profile are those of Angelina Jolie and Demi Moore. Both women often wear aviators with a metal bridge that visually divides their faces, creating the illusion of a longer nose and profile.

Moore also favors round lenses  in metal or transparent, nude frames, a style that performs the same elongating magic.

Jolie occasionally shows up in those chunky dark shades made famous by Jackie O, another famous square-faced beauty. While this style may hide you from those annoying paparazzi, it tends to emphasize angular jaws and swallow up smaller faces.

Heart face shape

The heart-shaped face has a broad forehead tapering to a pointed chin. The right shades can help you balance that narrow chin with the wider forehead. Look for rounder frames to soften your face across those cheekbones.

Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson both have heart-shaped faces.

Witherspoon favors cat-eye sunglasses. These work better for her when they’re smaller and darker. Oversize cat eyes overwhelm her face and draw attention upward to that large forehead.

If you have a heart-shaped face, try minimizing the breadth of the upper half with light-colored or rimless frames. If you want in on the cat-eye  craze, opt for transparent pastel frames with darker lenses.

Like most heart-shaped faces, Witherspoon’s and Johansson’s look great in retro frames with round lenses and lighter-colored frames and aviators with rose-colored mirror lenses.

That teardrop shape is great for heart-shaped faces because it draws the eye down and balances the upper half of your face. Look for colorful lenses in frames with beige or wood-tone brow lines that blend into the forehead or darker bottom rims that draw the eye down.

Oval

If you were born with this classic face shape, you can get away with almost any style of sunglasses. You don’t have to worry about going big and dwarfing your face, or too small or round or square.

No sunglasses style is too funky for your face – although it may be too funky for your sense of style.

Meryl Streep with her classic oval face and high cheekbones looks equally good in small blue/gray oval lenses or big Hollywood-style chunky square frames .

Oval-faced former supermodel Naomi Campbell wore many outrageous outfits at the recent Paris Fashion Week but kept her large, square Vita Fede’s Bordeaux sunglasses through it all.

There’s not much you can’t pull off with a lovely oval and a little moxie. Experiment as well with aviators, shield styles and ’70s vintage until you find a look – or a few looks – that capture your spirit.

Oblong

The oblong face is at least twice as long as it is wide, an elongated oval. Liv Tyler and Iman both have oblong faces. If this describes you, you can carry off those big, bold styles  that would swallow a smaller face whole.

One tip if you have an oblong face shape: Avoid emphasizing the narrowness of your face with narrow horizontal frames or tiny Lennon-style circular lenses.

A big cat eye also can work for you, as can the classic Ray-Ban Wayfarer. Oversize frames with low bridges look great on Iman, as do face-hugging wrap styles like Maui Jim Kipahulu.

Decorative temple elements can also work with oblong faces. Just make sure the frame doesn’t extend too far beyond your hairline.

One more thing

Sunglasses don’t have to work alone. You can alter your face shape pretty dramatically with hats and hairstyles, opening up all kinds of options for the perfect sunnies.

Obviously, these are guidelines only. Don’t hesitate to try on anything that catches your fancy. If you’re drawn to a certain style, experiment a little. In the end, it’s all about what makes you feel like a rock star when you step out into the light.

READY TO SHOP FOR SUNGLASSES? Find an optical shop near you or online.

Page updated September 2019

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