The world of sunglasses can be intimidating - there’s thousands upon thousands of options with countless combinations of shapes, sizes and colors. Even if you’re able to determine which company stands out to you (thanks for checking us out!), perhaps because of their story or because they offer something unique (hi, floating shades), it can still be hard to pinpoint which pair is right for you.
We’re here to help and have put together this definitive buying guide after years of research on shades. Finding the right pair of sunglasses starts with two overarching categories: style and utility.
What style are you looking for?
Think about what style fits your personality and personal taste the most.
Do you prefer a more minimalist, no-fuss look? Perhaps going with smaller/medium size sunglasses and a more neutral frame and lens color combo like black and gray makes the most sense.
Do you prefer a louder, bolder look? Perhaps going with a larger/oversized frame and a more vibrant color combo like tortoise shell frames and mirrored lenses makes the most sense.
What is your lifestyle like?
At the end of the day, sunglasses are for protection - and important protection at that. Eye damage from the sun is more common than you may think, particularly for hikers, fishermen, surfers, and others who spend a great deal of time in direct sun. So, at least some amount of utility is important. Opt for 100% UV protection no matter where you'll use them.
Let’s break down some major lifestyle areas that can help you determine just what you’re looking for in both utility and style!
If you are primarily looking for glasses for outdoor sports, wraparound frames offer the best protection from wind and glare. Polarized lenses are particularly beneficial for you, offering increased contrast and minimal color distortion while your head is in the game, but your face is in the bright light of the sun. For lens color, a blue base or tint is great for cutting out glare, particularly when looking at blue or white horizons, whether in the snow while snowboarding or while out on the boat looking for the next catch. Amber is great on the water too for low light conditions and early morning fishing sessions. A grey base lens is another stellar choice, offering heightened clarity on runs or bike rides.
- Recommended: Wraparound frame, utility lens color (blue, grey or amber)
- Top choice styles: Bahias | Eddies | Reedy
- Top choice frame colors: Gunmetal | Tortoise
- Top choice lenses: Marine | Gunmetal | Amber
Most of us are just looking to have a good time and need sunglasses that keep up with our life (plus, we all know they make us look cooler). Here’s where personal style comes into play the most: it’s really all up to you! Choose a lens color based on what shade you want to see the world in and match the frame to your go-to looks.
- Larger than Life
If you like being at the center of the action or finding a friend no matter where you go, why not go bold with your shades? Pair it with a big hat and you have the perfect fashionable look for the beach or poolside.
- Recommended: Large/oversized frame, bright/colorful tones
- Top choice styles: Ellis | Washouts | Breakers
- Top choice lenses: Rose | Emerald | Amber
- Top choice frame colors: Black Tortoise | Sandbar | Tortoise-Gunmetal
- Laid Back + Low Key
Maybe your speed is more casually cool. No problem, there’s plenty of great styles in this arena too. Whether you’re taking it easy on the beach or a breezy stroll around town, there’s lots of great looks to go around.
- Recommended: Small/medium/standard size frame, neutral/retro tones
- Top choice styles: Wyecreeks | Waders | Palmettos | Edistos
- Top choice lenses: Amber | Gunmetal | Marine
- Top choice frame colors: Tortoise | Boat Blue | Gunmetal | Sandbar
- Always on Trend
Passion for fashion but not necessarily looking to go bold? Check these shades out.
- Recommended: Small/medium frame, trendy frames
- Top choice frames: Faris | Seabrooks
- Top choice lenses: Gunmetal | Rose
- Top choice frame colors: Sandbar | Boat Blue | Black Tortoise
Sporty Meets Leisure
If you’re like us, you find yourself spending long days out in the sun or on the water and want style that translates to an evening out on the town. If you’re one of those that wants to have your cake and eat it too, finding that perfect combo takes a bit of finessing. We think we’ve got you covered.
- Recommended: Small/medium frame, classic styles
- Top choice frames: Coopers | Sapelos | Sullivans
- Top choice lenses: Emerald | Marine | Gunmetal
- Top choice frame colors: Gunmetal | Boat Blue | Tortoise
Take our style quiz if you’re still not sure! Check out our core line fit guide and Southern Tide Signature Series fit guide for exact size measurements (temple size, lens size, frame size) and specifications.