Don’t let those grey springtime skies deceive you, because, as The Beatles once sang: here comes the sun.
Summer is on its way and if there’s one accessory you need to get right for the next few months, it’s sunglasses. Rather than including brands and retailers who get in on the act every season, we’ve focused on the eyewear specialists who do this all year round, from the established names to new contenders who may not be on your radar.
If you’re buying online, be sure to take your head measurements before choosing, and correspond these to the size of the lenses, nose bridge and arms on your chosen pair (the manufacturer will supply this). Also take into account the style of sunglasses you’re choosing – for example, if you’ve got a wide face, the classic Wayfarers might be your best option, while if your head is more slender, the round-lens glasses (set to be a big hit this summer) should be among your considerations.
Each pair we’ve listed here offers maximum UV protection, shielding your eyes from the damage caused by the sun’s harmful rays, while we’ve mentioned which ones are available with polarised lenses, reducing glare so your vision is unimpeded. Other lens types to look out for are the mirrored ones, which do exactly what they say on the tin, and graduated lenses, which become less tinted towards the bottom of the lenses. We’ve also mentioned which ones are suitable for prescription lenses.
1. Cubitts Calthorpe Sunglasses: £125, Cubitts
This north London eyewear specialist, founded in 2012, has a large and varied range of sunglasses, from classic styles to the more experimental. Our favourite is the angular Calthorpe, and we especially like how the mechanism inside the acetate frame becomes exposed with certain colour schemes, such as the translucent Quartz (there a nine other colour combinations available). They feel superbly made, not too heavy or light, and sit comfortably. Each pair comes with a case, glasses pouch, illustrated cloth and optical screwdriver. Available for prescription.
2. Ray-Ban Clubmaster Sunglasses: £135, Ray-Ban
There probably isn’t a more recognisable name than Ray-Ban when it comes to sunglasses. Its Wayfarer style is genuinely iconic, but we’ve decided to go for the Clubmaster in this round-up, with its top-heavy, horizontal styling and gold-coloured details on an acetate frame. They feel well-made enough to last you for summers to come (especially if you store them in the leather-look carry case provided). You can customise the pair in a range of ways on the Ray-Ban website, from the frame colour to the size to the engraving.
3. Silhouette Adventurer Sunglasses: £163.50, Pret a Voir
The first thing you notice about these sunglasses is how unbelievably lightweight they are, thanks to the titanium frame. They might not seem like ones for the heavy-handed among us, but they are deceptively durable while remaining flexible (that said, be sure to always use the carry case). They feel light as a feather when worn, with the flexible hinge adjusting to the shape of your head. Suitable for prescription lenses, as well as available in a number of shapes and colours.
4. Persol Men’s Aviator Sunglasses: £116.36, Amazon
There aren’t many brands out there that have been making sunglasses as long as the Italian specialist Persol, founded back in 1917. This is the brand’s take on the aviator style, and we’re particularly fond of the subtle curves on the bridge, as well as the silver details that wrap around the hinges. The arms of the acetate frame are slim and lightweight, and they fit comfortably around the head. Available in a range of frame and polarised lens colours.
5. Black Pharaoh Sunglasses: £197, Black Eyewear
Each of the pairs in Black’s range is named after a jazz legend –you’ll find Miles, Mingus and more instantly recognisable names in the huge selection. The biggest inspiration in terms of style is the Fifties jazz scene, with lots of chunky, bold shapes, alongside the thinner, understated styles that give things a contemporary edge. Our pick is Pharaoh (Sanders), which, thanks to the larger size and shape, are best suited to large faces. As is the case with every design, there are loads of frame and lens colours are available – the pair we’ve chosen has a graduated lens, meaning they allow more light in than others on our list. Can be fitted with prescription lenses.
6. Oliver Peoples Remick Sunglasses: £263, Fashion Eyewear
If you’re after something for a brand firmly set within the high-end sunglasses world, go for Oliver Peoples. The American brand has been hand-making sunglasses since the late Eighties, with a style that brings together vintage and contemporary. Aside from the distinctive brow bar (which we’re big fans of), it’s the fine details that set this pair apart, like the filigree metal hinges, or the adjustable nose pads for added comfort. They’re suitable for prescription lenses, too.
7. Quay Australia Electric Dreams Sunglasses: £39.99, Quay Australia
While the round design immediately brings to mind a certain Liverpudlian music legend, we think this pair is androgynous. The frame is a sturdy, lightweight metal, which is ever-so-slightly curved around lenses, which makes these particularly suited to those with slender faces. The hinges are stainless steel, also, which gives the pair good durability.
8. Oakley Drop Point Prizm Polarized: £170, Oakley
Coming from another of the most recognisable names in the world of sunglasses, this is pair to go for if you’re after a sportier look. The polarised lenses curve round your temples much further than the others on our list, which opens up your peripheral vision. The arms don’t curve round over the ears like usual, but they still provide a tight grip without being uncomfortable. They’re made from Oakley’s own O-Matter material, which is a tough, light, plastic-like frame. Suitable for prescription lenses.
9. Kite Dino: £170, Kite
We love a modern take on a classic, and that’s exactly what we have here. It’s based on the aviator style, crafted using a sleek, brushed steel (all of this London-based brand’s glasses are made from either steel or acetate). They’re slim and sturdy, with a fit that will be most comfortable on larger, round faces. Every pair uses lenses made by Zeiss, the renowned optical manufacturer, and are suitable for prescriptions – Kite offers free eye examinations in its east London store. This pair is available in graphite, silver or a distinctive, two-tone black and gold.
10. Le Specs Hey Macarena: £34.99, Jules B
This Australian brand (don’t let that name or the French flag fool you) counts Lady Gaga, Kendall Jenner and Zayn Malik among its celebrity fans. A lot of its frames are unisex, including this Oxford-style pair – it’s a shape which is set to dominate this summer. We’re big fans of the bold, ochre, tortoiseshell colouring, and we found the acetate frame was among the more comfortable fits. Comes with mirrored lenses.
The Verdict: Men’s sunglasses
We love the pair we tried from Cubitts. It’s a relatively new brand but its glasses are superbly made and presented, with an attractive range that will suit pretty much all face shapes and sizes. And within the quality sunglasses market, they’re good value.
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