The best sunglasses for all budgets this summer
Sunglasses are one of the best things about summer. This summer, the trend is massively towards mirror shades, but there are also still plenty of brown and black tinted options out there for those who prefer not to rock the "sadistic prison warden" look.
In short, get yourself a decent pair of sunglasses and your eyes will stay safe, you'll be able to see where you’re going, and you'll look (more) like Steve McQueen (a bit).
With sunglasses from the high-end likes of Persol and Gucci, people's favourite Ray-Ban, and one fairly outrageous-but-cheap pair from John Lewis, it's fair to say there's something for everyone here.
Prices vary from as little as £15 all the way up to £200+, with looks from techy to edgy, from cool to classic.
If you're serious about eye protection, look out for filtering of UV-A and UV-B rays. Most of the glasses in this list boast both. Just want to look like a rock star? Choose based on looks and price, bearing in mind that you WILL eventually sit on them or leave them in a bar.
If you require prescription lenses, you'll need Rx compatibility, which involves paying more, on average. Them's the breaks.
- These are the best sports sunglasses
- Pair those slick new shades with a proper watch
- Now fire up the barbie!
Oliver Goldsmith Lord
Oliver Goldsmith more or less made glasses fashionable by outfitting the likes of Peter Sellers in the them during the 1960s. This sunglasses style was the model worn by Michael Caine in the David Bailey shoot that led to that genuinely iconic image.
Look closely on this updated version and the lower rim of the frame is ever so subtly camouflaged on this version.
£275 | Buy Oliver Goldsmith Lord
Ray-Ban Remix Clubmaster
Always the most under-rated of the Ray-Bans, Clubmaster is all about American-meets-Euro chic. Think The Talented Mr Ripley - but you don't have to be a sociopathic murderer to wear them! We hope!
The reason these ones look a tad odd is that we knocked them up using Ray-Ban Remix. This briliiant system lets you easily customise your own specs. Frame choices include Aviators, all the Wayfarer variants including folding, Clubmasters, obviously, and go all the way up to the techier Lightray frames, as seen here (this would set you back £198). Mmm, blue on blue.
You can choose from a range of lens colours (including reflective), temples (arms) and temple tips (the bits on the ends of the temples that go over your ears) and even have them engraved, in a choice of three fonts.
Prices vary, model shown £153 | Ray-Ban
Yes, it’s yet another Aviator style - a classic, if hardly an original choice. But look closer and this version cuts against the standard technical, tool-like aesthetic by being made of wood. So simple and yet so clever.
More precisely, they're made of zebrawood, together with a birch core and Carl Zeiss lenses - it's still sadly impossible to make lenses out of wood.
The advantage of this: over time wood will develop its own unique patina, so a pair become more and more yours, the more the sun shines.
£160 | Buy Shwood Medford
Savile Row Quadra + Sunclip
Anyone who wears glasses knows the annoyance of switching between your normal pair, and sunglasses, but thankfully, Savile Row presents a pleasingly retro solution: clip-on shades.
But then Savile Row itself is refreshingly retro. John Lennon’s choice is Britain’s last frame-maker and one of few in the world to produce them in 18K rolled gold frames, made in the same Algha Works factory in London’s East End since 1932 (now, frustratingly, under threat from developers).
£308 Quadra frames, £115 Sunclip | Buy Savile Row Sunclip
This range of sunglasses is built for skateboarders, but fine for you, and has a very interesting USP: a clip that holds them securely in your shirt pocket when not on your face.
They're also a great-looking batch of sunnies, with numerous frame and lens colour options. The one above (matte, grey ink frame with iridium lenses, since you ask) is perhaps our favourite.
Oakley's usual non-slip nose pads, precision optics and lightweight/tough build are all present and correct, as you'd expect.
From £80 | Amazon
Persol Aviator 0714
Ultra-retro, super-luxe, folding sunglasses for the man who would be Steve McQueen. These heavy, classic shades are polarised and offer 100% UV filtering. They also fold at the bridge and temple, so you can origami them away somewhere discreet when not required.
Offering elegance and sophistication by the tonne, Persol is one of those brands you just can't really go wrong with.
£150 | Amazon
The past is so bright, you have to wear shades - specifically, if it’s the 40s or the 80s making a comeback, ones with coloured lenses.
Giving everyone you see an alien, post-party palor - they really should get some more sun - this style sets green lenses into acetate faux-horn frames. And since they're mirrored, they won't know you're staring at them.
£140 | Buy Illestava Leonard
Cutler & Gross Cubist
Unlike optical frames, which become part of your face, there is a strong argument for pressing at the limits of taste and conservatism when it comes to sunglasses. That needn’t mean crazy colours, however.
With the Cubist, Cutler & Gross keeps the shape classic and the tones muted but play with pattern within the acetate frame.
£310 | Buy Cutler & Gross Cubist
Swatch The Eyes
With 30 bridge styles (in three basic shapes) and seven pairs of arms to choose from, Swatch The Eyes, a collaboration with Safilo, is for those who just can't decide what to wear on their face. Although for most guys, the shape on the right can probably be written off, reducing the number of potential choices to a more manageable 140.
As well as looking poppy and cool for not a lot of money, Swatch the Eyes is also eco-friendly, with the number of parts required going down and their creation becoming both faster and more efficient.
From £60 | Out April
Emporio Armani EA2031
Absolutely fantastic, classic Armani sunglasses. Polarised brown lenses, just the right amount of rectangular-ness (excuse the overly technical language), steel frame.
And where some premium brands layer on the luxury with a trowel, leaving you with a pair of heavy, over-specced specs, these Emporio ones are relatively youthful and light, with a big EA eagle on 'em… Textbook.
£87 | Amazon
IC! Berlin Mathias B
IC! Berlin is an awesome brand, doing a genius mix of classic and very avant garde designs. Somehow, the results are nearly always very stylish and very intelligently manufactured.
IC! Berlin's signature specs are largely made of laser-cut steel, held together with a patented, one-of-a-kind screwless hinge system. Combined with the high-quality materials used, these glasses are hence virtually indestructible. As they should be, given a lot of the pricing.
This season, we're digging these Mathias B frames in black… Although rather more off the wall colour combos are available. Every pair has the brand's CEO's mobile number printed on them, should you have any complaints.
£370 | Unfortunately, IC.Berlin is so exclusive, you will have to look for them at an actual shop made of bricks.
Vinyl Factory Philippakis x Transitions
Transitions lenses, available in green, brown or grey tints, go from clear when you're indoors to dark in sunlight, in seconds, with various shades in between in middling light. As a result, you get optimal vision at all times, and always look at least somewhat cool. They can be done to a prescription or au naturel.
They are arguably best known for tie-ups with Nike but Transitions optics also turn up in more style-oriented offerings such as this pair from Vinyl Factory. Well, obviously you can put them in any glasses, but this is a specific cross-brand synergy type scenario.
Vinyl Factory's frames are all named after legendary rockers, but also more pleasingly obscure ones, from Kate Pierson of the B52s to Yannis Philippakis of Foals, who lends his name to these.
£150 | Vinyl Factory
Police Offside 1
With a unique 'floating' lens (note the gap between frame and lens), these are a great mix of light weight, resilience and slightly unusual style.
The way they're manufactured is unusual too, with a film being applied to the quality stainless steel frames using UV: "Due to the thinness of the material, the sheet is then developed, much like a photograph," Police's slightly English-as-a-second-language press release explains.
From £60 | Amazon
John Lewis rectangular tortoise sunglasses
SURELY the most *fierce* item currently available in John Lewis, these tortoise-framed playboy specs are fashion forward and sexy yet, seeing as you're buying them from the most middle-class shop ever, somehow a sensible purchase.
They're exceedingly cheap, too.
£15 | John Lewis
Silhouette makes amazingly thin and flexible frames - these Explorers are so lightweight you'll forget you're even wearing sunglasses.
Of course, being flexible they have the added benefit of being harder to destroy, as they sproing back when sat on or dropped. Or the frames do, at any rate.
From £156 | Amazon
Gucci Aviator GG1076
Want to rock the West Coast (as in America, not the Bristol channel) retired gangster/film producer look? Get these nylon-framed Guccis with black gradient lenses. They're more lightweight than they look, and highly sporty, edgy and Italian.
First you get the money, then you get the power… And then you buy the Gucci sunglasses.
£120 | Amazon
Maui Jim Sand Island
Named after a small island at the entrance of Honolulu Harbour, these Sand Island glasses offer wearers a strong combination of classic style and modern technology. What makes Haui Jim exciting as a brand is their advanced lenses, which fuse the best properties of SuperThin glass and polycarbonate to create a high-performance optic. The company claim their PolarizedPlus2 lenses wipe out 99.9 percent of glare and 100 per cent of harmful UV light.
They also look great and absolutely reek of luxury and excess.
Police Neymar Jr 1
That formerly Beckham-endorsed ultra-Euro brand Police has now teamed up with international footballing sex god Neymar to create the ultimate lifestyle range of specs.
The Neymar Jr 1 sunglasses come with full tint lenses to protect you from UV, are lightweight yet sturdy and could be just the thing for younger readers as they swan around Monte Carlo and/or JD Sports.
From £55 | Buy Police Neymar Jr 1
Polaroid 4214 Aviator Sunglasses
Aviators, as you can probably tell by the number of them in this buyers' guide, are the best type of sunglasses, as far as we're concerned. The great thing about the style is that you can pay pretty much as much as you want for Aviators and they'll look good.
Take this UV-resistant pair from Polaroid. Does it have the heft or expensive materials of a pair from Gucci, Maui Jim or even Ray-ban? Nope, but they still sit on your face looking cool and keeping your eyes safely blacked out, all for less than 40 quid. Because they aren't trying to feel all luxe, they're also splendidly lightweight as well.
From £36 | Amazon
This is a modern revamp of Sunpocket’s second classic sunglasses design from the ‘70s. They're made from an ‘unbreakable’ polycarbonate, which offers unprecedented impact protection and also happens to be rather lightweight.
Obviously, they have UV protection, and they are also foldable, so they're ideal for taking on holiday. The look is, again, timeless rather than retro.
€69 | Sunpocket