How many pairs of sunglasses do you have? If you’re like me, you own oodles, but probably only wear one or two. But we shouldn’t let our collection of sunnies languish in some dark drawer. We need to make the most of our bright days and fun accessories while summer is still here. For this easy, no-cost style challenge, the assignment is to round up every pair of sunglasses you own—whether they’re from a designer or a drug store—try them on and start wearing them. I share tips for evaluating what stays and goes below. The process is fun, eco-friendly and fashionable. I found sunglasses I’d long forgotten, including a handy pair of tinted readers. I’m definitely gonna make full use of my newfound sunglass wardrobe.
Assemble your Collection of Sunglasses
Start by locating and laying out every pair of sunglasses you own. It’s like a scavenger hunt. Check your entry way, mudroom, bedside table, junk drawers, purses, tote bags, closet corners and car glove compartment. Unless you only wear prescription glasses, you probably have more shades than you think. I haven’t bought new sunglasses in years but I discovered eight pairs in my Chicago condo, and I know I have more down in Florida. Of these eight pictured here, I’ve only been wearing three! That means five new ways to look cool and mix up my vibe—without spending a dime.
(Note: since I wrote this story I found two more pairs of sunglasses tucked away in a sports bag and dresser. So really make a thorough search!)
Model Your Shades
Try on each pair and take a picture of yourself. Then look at all the photos and see how you feel. You’ve probably accumulated your collection of sunglasses over years, so you may be discovering some old friends and memories here. Enjoy the nostalgia, then assess how they suit you now. Which styles do you think look best? Are the expensive brands more flattering than the cheap ones or is it the other way round? Why haven’t you been wearing a certain pair? Is it the shape, the color or the way they feel? Here are pics of all my shades:
Evaluate Each Pair
Sunglasses are perhaps the most important accessories we own because they go right on your face. Also, they aren’t frivolous, they provide an important function. Here are the three criteria I used to evaluate my shades. Note: This process works when you’re shopping for new sunglasses too!
Comfort and fit. If the glasses don’t feel good and stay on, it doesn’t matter what they look like. I love the look of my Ray-Ban aviators, but the wire frames feel uncomfortable after a while and tangle in my hair if I push them up on my head. As a result, I don’t wear them for long periods. They’re fine for an errand or sunset cocktail, but they aren’t my choice for all-day wear. Also, I have a couple pairs of glasses with loose hinges, making the arms flop around annoyingly. I’m going to fix them with my handy tiny screwdriver, or take them to a Sunglass Hut for a free tweak.
Style. Make sure you feel good about the size, shape and color of the shades. There are many guidelines out there about the best frame style for your face shape, but I don’t find those rules very helpful. You may adore huge cat eye shades for their glamour and mystery, or little round wire rims for their quirky personality. Express yourself! But if you’re trying on multiple pairs of sunglasses, you’ll probably find you like some styles more than others. My go-tos are the Gucci sunglasses that I got on sale at Nordstrom Rack. They are light, comfortable and don’t overwhelm my face. They also have a cool bamboo detail on the side that adds some flair. But I like think it’s a nice switch to wear a variety of shapes and colors, like the square red Marc Jabob shades.
Function. Sunglasses can be a stylish accessory but they also need to do their job. In some situations, sun protection and visibility are far more important than style. I can’t play tennis without my lightweight, polarized Maui Jims. They’re as important to my game as my racquet. You need to know which lenses are protective, blocking harmful UVA and UVB rays, and which aren’t. Also, different color lenses work better in certain situations than others—for driving, on cloudy days, for playing or watching sports, etc. If your sunglasses don’t serve a purpose or don’t look great dump them.
I thought I’d find some duds, but I still like all of these sunglasses, some of which are at least a dozen years old. I put them all together in a single handy drawer. Now I look forward to wearing them all and matching them to the right occasions—and outfits!
Craving a New Look?
You might notice that you’re missing something from your collection, like a bedazzled pair to wear out to dinner or cheap and practical shades you won’t mind losing on a boat or at a concert. I say indulge. Sunglasses are easy to shop for (no disrobing required), come in a wide range of price points and—as I’ve just discovered— last for years.
For hot styles at a low price check out the website Knockaround.com. These colorful Apex shades are just $28.
I’m going to New York Fashion Week next month with my most fashionable friend Berit Francis, and have no idea what to wear. A chic pair of designer shades could be just the thing to make me ooze with sophistication—and will easily fit in my carry on! I’ll be reporting back on our Fashion Week plans soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer and feel free to share your sunglass style or tips in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @stylechallengers.