This summer’s essential sunglasses


Sunglasses – the simple standard bearer for the sunny season. For once the fashion options are endless: take the celebrity route via big, dark, identity concealers; do a Tom Cruise in Risky Business with classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers; or flick out those Lolita cat’s eye frames courtesy of every hip designer brand on the market. Whatever your choice, just be sure to make one: these are medical accoutrements masquerading as style statements, a lot easier to remember than sunscreen and a lot more elegant. Don’t let the sunshine in ...


“With my sunglasses on, I’m Jack Nicholson. Without them, I’m fat and 60,” said the Hollywood actor from behind his trademark shades (a while back, admittedly). Need we say more? Apart from the obvious ophthalmological reasons, sunglasses inject a little je ne sais quoi into a summer style personality. And even if the insistence on must-have seasonal trends leaves you cold, such is the proliferation of styles that whatever the shape of your face or the cut of your dark glasses, there’s something out there for you. As Larry Leight, director and founder of sunglasses brand Oliver Peoples, says: “It’s not just one hot look or style that you see. For spring/summer, everything – from the classic double bridge aviator, which never goes out of style, to retro-inspired, thin, intellectual frames, to the still popular oversized, glamorous styles – will work.”


The smart summer money is on the 1950s cat’s eye trend. Miuccia Prada has channelled the nostalgia of her favourite holiday destinations (including Cornwall, apparently) into a new “Postcards” sunglasses collection, with the retro cat’s eye reinterpreted in different frame and lens colours. (A tip – the clear acetate version is summer’s big hit, especially if twinned with a flash of bright vermilion lipstick.) As for RayBan, the brand that spreads like a contagion through music festivals worldwide, it’s backing its reworking of the original Clubmaster style, crafted this time into another feminine cat’s eye shape in hot pink, powder blue, orange, white and red.

If feline flicks don’t tempt, a trip to any department store will provide countless other shapes, colours and sizes, from Gucci and Versace’s sleek and sporty frames; Armani and Burberry’s big black Anna Wintour options; to several trusty aviator styles at Hermès and Tom Ford. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, Oliver Goldsmith can supply you with the most patriotic of eyewear: a pair of Union Jack sunglasses.

Should you invest?

“It’s all in the details,” says Larry Leight of Oliver Peoples. Details, however, can mean big budget, but with sunglasses it’s worth it. Why? A) you can buy into a designer brand for a fraction of the price of a piece of clothing, b) you’ll be assured of the adequate sun damage protection (the NHS advises UK shoppers to choose a pair that has either the “CE” mark denoting the correct British standard, a UV 400 label, or a statement that the sunglasses offer 100 per cent UV protection), and c) most pairs on the high street are interpretations of designer glasses anyway, so why not go for the real thing? What’s more, a classic pair of designer sunglasses – treated with the correct amount of care (don’t lose the case!) – won’t endure the kind of wear and tear that a pair of shoes or a designer bag would in similar sweaty summer circumstances. You could call that “eyedeal”.

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