Finding that perfect pair of sunnies for your face can be a tricky process. When you head into a store, you’ll likely try on at a dozen pairs and still not be certain. Naturally, the problem is greater still when you buy online. You are ultimately taking a leap of faith that the little 2D image and the glamourous model in the lifestyle picture translate to the perfect frame landing on your doorstep 72 hours later. So how you can at least narrow down your chances of receiving a frame that will become your ‘forever friend’?
Well, there is actually some science that can go some way to helping ensure you have a great start in finding your perfect match. So let’s break this down to the main different face types. Essentially the four main types are heart shape, round, oval and square. If you are sitting here reading this article wondering why we haven’t mentioned ‘hexagonal’ or ‘star’ shaped faces, then I would probably suggest a trip to the doctors first before buying your sunglasses.
In short, it is all about the balance, so let’s break this down. First up…
Square Shaped Face
Characterised by the following: A strong jaw, broad forehead and/or wide cheekbones.
In essence, what you are aiming to do here is ‘soften’ the angles of this face shape. A round or oval frame will soften the jawline and bring emphasis to the eyes. They will accentuate your features to give you a longer, more elegant look, so good news for those that like their nose. Poetry right there.
You can of course go square shaped to harden your appearance, going for that tougher, no compromising look – think Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator (just not the metal robot bit). As a compromise you could reach for a more angled aviator, ideally one with a thinner frame too.
Heart Shaped Face
Characterised by high cheek bones and a jawline that tapers to a defined chin.
Again it’s all about getting that balance. Your goal here is to minimise the width of your forehead and broaden the appearance of the chin, which means you should be reaching for the sunglasses that are wider on your forehead or have prominent end points.
If you haven’t worked it out already then yes, indeed the cat-eye is your ideal partner in crime (or for just sitting down and having a coffee with a friend). It will bring a wonderful symmetry to those lines and the often timeless, vintage chic of such frames will always bring a touch of glamour to proceedings. You only have to ask Audrey Hepburn.
Of course you may not want to be ‘giving it the glam’ and simply want a nice practical pair of frames for your next countryside ramble. In which case, some of the classics such as Clubmaster and Aviator styles will be an excellent companion.
Round Shaped Face
I’m expecting you to know the drill by now. If you have round face, then you’re best balancing buddy is a square frame. It’s about those sharper, angular lines to counteract your softer, round features. Where else do we find angles? Correct…. the cat-eye frame, the lovely pointy silhouette of a ‘cat’ will also work very well. However, ‘beware the oversize’ so they say. With a round face tending to be on the shorter side, those oversized may just appear too large.
If you’re going ‘square’ then the timeless Wayfarer style is always good choice. There are a lot of variations on that out there and you may wish to experiment with a more curved frame front that will equate to a sportier overall finish.
Oval Shaped Face
You oval-shaped face ‘types’ are the cats that got the cream. Characterised by your face being longer than it is wider, a rounded jawline and chin and your forehead being the widest part of the face, you have the ideal shape. What does that mean? Well, if you were playing the lucky dip for sunglasses (and who doesn’t love one of those?) you’d would be pulling out a winner for your face each and every time. Some people have all the luck!
If I was giving advice here, rather than flattery then cat-eye and round frames will accentuate your cheekbones and achieve a more angular effect. I might suggest a frame that is slightly more on the wider side. Rectangle-shaped frames often look fantastic on oval-shaped faces, the horizontal style complementing the vertical nature of an oval face. Conversely, a narrow frame can draw attention to a narrow eye line, so perhaps something to steer away from.
We’re going to talk hair...
Yes, indeed your hair has a remarkably important part to play in your choice of frame. For instance, those of you with long, wavy hair will already be softening your features, so you’ll be wanting to reach for a more angular frame, such as a square or cat-eye that will provide a lovely bit of counterbalance. Equally, if you have short hair or no hair this tends to accentuate the more defined features of your face more. The preference therefore is to look across at the more round or oval frames that will then soften that final look.
It is not to say you solely base you frame choice on your hair. Let’s be honest, no-one wants to be buying a new frame every time they pop-out for a haircut.
This is only advice to help you on the pathway to your next purchase. It’s a conventional approach based on a bit of facial science, but let’s be honest, we aren’t all conventional. The world would be a boring place if we were. Ultimately the best frame for you is the one you feel great in and that will likely be an extension of your personality and how extroverted you are. If you want to wear oversize bright yellow cat eyes to your local supermarket good on you; if you want to go clubbing in a tiny pair of ‘John Lennon’s’ good on you too (if you can see in the dark that is). Just make sure you enjoy them and look after them. Buy well, buy less.
Written by John Pritchard
John is Founder of Pala, a B Corp and leading sustainable eyewear company based in Brighton, UK. If you are interested in finding out more about Pala’s mission or ethical sunglasses, then do check out their links below: