Buying tips: eyeglasses and sunglasses

Wednesday, 4 February 2009 | Tags: , , , , ,

Whether you need them to see or to "be seen", glasses come in so many shapes, sizes, and materials that it can be hard to choose just one. Here are some guidelines for selecting a pair to suit your features.

The Basics

In general, experts say glasses should:

    • highlight your best feature (e.g. if you have blue eyes, try blue frames)
    • have a shape opposite to your face shape
    • be in scale to your own face scale

Fitting tips to remember when trying on glasses:

  • If they pinch or dig in, they’re too small. If they slip, they’re too big. (Be sure to move around tilt your head to test this.)

  • The bridge of the glasses should sit level at the bridge of your nose (no tipping either side).

  • Nose pads should lie flat against your nose.

  • Your pupils should appear somewhere around 1/3 from the top of the lenses.

  • Arms should not ride up your head. If one sits higher than the other (many people’s ears actually aren’t level with each other!), you can have them adjusted.

  • The earpieces should tuck in closely behind your ears and shouldn’t be visible from the front.

Glasses shape vs. Face Shape

As with hats and jewelry, glasses are accessories that can help balance your face.

First, to figure out your face shape, stand in front of a mirror and take a piece of soap or eyeliner and trace the outline your face in your reflection. When you step away, you should see one of the shapes below. (If you don’t get help from a friend.)

Below are the various face shapes and recommedations for glasses shapes:


  • Try angular frames as a contrast. geometric shapes like rectangles and half-hexagons (outside rim) help bring balance.

  • Look for frames that are wider horizontally than vertically, which also helps balance.

  • A clear or light-coloured bridge and higher temples (e.g. cat eye styles) makes eyes appear wider-set, giving the illusion of a longer, narrower face.

  • Avoid small frames and round frames, which will just make your face look rounder.


  • Once again, oval faces are typically the easiest to fit and have the most options.

  • Try a variety of styles. You can even carry off aviators and wraparounds.

  • Slightly angular frames help to contrast soft curves.

  • Look for frames that are as wide or wider than the broadest point of your face.

  • Avoid overly large frames, which can overwhelm your look.


  • If your face is longer than it is wide, try frames that are vertically broader and horizontally strong (e.g. thick plastics, oversized, colourful, and chunky instead of thin metals), which both help break up your face and offset its length.

  • A low bridge may shorten a longer nose, and low, decorative temples with thicker arms help widen the face.

  • Rounder frames introduce curves and balance your face’s angles

  • Avoid styles with a brow bar (e.g. a bar above the bridge connecting the two lenses, like aviator styles) since it will bring attention to the length of your face. Also avoid narrow and angular shapes.


  • Try glasses that are wider at the bottom than on top to offset the narrowness of the chin and the broadness of the forehead.

  • Try frames with a lower temple, which helps bring more width to the lower part of your face.

  • Rimless or light-coloured frames help to de-emphasize prominent cheekbones.

  • Rectangular frames with rounded corners add volume to the lower half of the face, and soften a broad forehead.

  • Avoid frames that are decorated across the brow or at the temples, which will only emphasize width.


  • To balance a strong jawline and broad forehead, try frames with curves or curved corners (e.g. aviators), which helps offset the angles of your face.

  • Try cat-eye frames, whose curved lines will contrast your face and draw the eye upward from your strong jaw.

  • Avoid straight edges and corners, including anything with a flat bottom, which will just make your face look squarer and appear short.


If you’re not sure about colour, choose something that complements your skin tone, eye colour, and hair colour. For example, if your complexion is:Cool (blue or pink skin tones; blue, green, grey eyes; light blonde, strawberry blond, blue-tinged black hair)

  • Try frames (and sunglass lenses) in shiny black, bright white, rose-brown, blue-grey, plum, magenta, pink, jade, blue, and dark amber.

Warm (yellow or olive skin tones; brown or hazel eyes; golden blond, flat black, gold- or red-tinged brunette)

  • Try fames (and sungless lenses) in camel, khaki, gold, copper, peach, orange, coral, off-white, bright red, matte black, and light amber.

Also, if you have lighter skin, go for a contrasting darker colour. If you have darker skin, try a light-colored frame.

Glasses Style vs. Facial Features

You can also choose glasses to downplay certain facial features.  For example, if you have:

  • A long nose, look for a low bridge to break up your nose’s length. And embellishment at the temples will draw the attention away from your nose. 

  • A small nose, look for a high bridge, which keeps the line of a short nose uninterrupted. Also, choose delicate frames over chunky ones, which can overwhelm your face.

  • A wide nose, try a dark-coloured yet thinly styled bridge, which will give the illusion of length and also not draw attention to the nose. Also try glasses with high temples, which draw attention up and away from the nose. Thin frames (metal or rimless) with adjustable nose pads will work well for you, whereas plastic frames with fixed nose pads will be difficult to fit.

  • Close-set eyes, pick out frames with embellished temples to draw attention outward. Stay away from oversized frame, which will overwhelm your eyes.

  • Wide-set eyes, try frames with a darker bridge and lighter rims, which will give the illusion that your eyes are closer together.

Be Aware

  • If your glasses don’t fit properly, they can be bad for your eyes, causing you to squint and giving you headaches.

  • Avoid putting your glasses on the top of your head, which can stretch them out.

  • To make sure your glasses maintain their proper shape, always remove them with two hands. If you remove them one-handed and pull them sideways, you can cause them to warp.

  • If you wear your glasses often, have them adjusted by an optician regularly to make sure they are at their best fit. 

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