Gentlemen, we'll be honest: Whether you're about to head out or trying to hide your hangover, the easiest way to instantly look better is to toss on a pair of sunglasses.
Shades can elevate your style, transform your look, and change your mood. But—and this is a big but—you have to nab a pair that suits your face shape. The right pair of sunglasses will enhance your best features, frame your face, and highlight the rest of your outfit.
We're going to steer you in the right direction with the help of Marie DiPalma, senior brand director of Ray-Ban North America. We've rounded up the most iconic Ray-Ban styles, as seen on some of the most legendary people in history, fashion, and music, then highlighted what type of guy they speak to in terms of personality, how you want to look, and how you want to feel.
(Oh, and if you're not sure what your face shape is, use this guide.)
The history: Flashback to the 1930s, when the Aviator emerged as the standard-issue frames for the military, and Ray-Ban became the first sunglasses brand in the world. The anti-glare specs were made popular with men like General Douglas A. MacArthur and decorated pilot John A. Macready, who set flight records in the early ages of aviation.
Back then, most pilots wore goggles, so Ray-Ban developed the "anti-glare" Aviator. The lenses' iconic teardrop design fit around pilots' oxygen masks, making for a practical (and, nowadays, effortlessly stylish) look.
Style points: "The aviator frame also looks good on most people, but it works best on a heart-shaped face, drawing attention to prominent facial features," DiPalma says. "The thin metal frames with broader bottom halves highlight proportion throughout the face, and widen the appearance of the chin." The classic silhouette and opaque, glare-free lens is best-suited for guys with a military-inspired style.
The history: Ray-Ban's Ambermatic lenses created a frenzy once they appeared on Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. The yellow-ish lenses were a perfect complement to Ray-Bans' Aviator, Outdoorsman, and Shooter frames, because they adjust well to shifting light. The usual amber tint cuts through hazy conditions; turns brown on bright, cloudless days; and shifts to a dark grey to minimize glare from direct sunlight. Walter would approve.
Style points: Aside from being a popular pick for fishermen and hunters, the frame and color evoke a rebel attitude, DiPalma says, which is why the vintage-inspired Ambermatic lens is still available on Ray-Ban's site, only with modern touches and updates. As for face shape, the Ambermatics' vertical drop helps balance out the narrower chins on guys with heart-shaped faces.
The history: Often confused for the Aviator, Ray-Ban's Outdoorsman is easily distinguishable thanks to its prominent brow bar. As the name implies, the Outdoorsman was originally crafted for hiking, fishing, and shooting; the brow bar was introduced to stop sweat from running into the wearer's eyes. Today, though, it stands as a bold style point.
Style points: The Outdoorsman is still perfect for outdoors pursuits, but it's also ideal for fashionably adventurous rock-star types. (Kesha here has the right idea.) They're ideal for guys with round faces: The brow bar draws the eye up, helping to visually elongate an otherwise smaller face shape.
The history: Fashion took hold of the aviator's utilitarian nature—especially in the '70s, when mirrored lenses were an unstoppable fashion accessory. The sunglasses' slick, mercury aesthetic was still functional, of course: It helped block out glare (even if that glare was due to a disco ball in a nightclub).
Style points: Have a rebellious sense of fashion, like to stand out, and play to trends? Customize your own mirrored aviator with Ray-Ban's various classic, gradient, polarized, and mirrored and flash color options. There's a literal rainbow of options to modernize the traditional look. Like the O.G. Aviator, mirrored Aviators can work for pretty much every face shape.
The history: The Clubmaster's exaggerated angles were a hit in the '50s. Men were drawn to the masculine "browline" the sunglasses created, as well as the winged frame. The retro-classic surged again in the '80s, only with black and gold hardware. And if you're a movie buff, you know the Clubmaster was worn by Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, Tim Roth in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and pretty much every actor in Mad Men.
Style points: "The Clubmaster—a timeless design—is embraced by refined retro types," DiPalma says. This is a great frame if you want to look more put-together and polished. "It looks best on triangle-shaped and oval faces. The vertical lines in the frame balance out the bottom part of the face, [accentuating] the brow."
The history: Benjamin Franklin shot this style into popularity, and he did pretty OK for himself. John Lennon was among the first to rock round Ray-Bans with sun-shielding lenses. The Round is a counterculture icon, thanks to its popularity in the '60s among the hippy and festival-going set, and again in the '80s with acid rockers.
Style points: It's not a style for squares, but "the Ray-Ban Round style works best on those with a square face shape, adding texture and balance to facial features," DiPalma says. It'll also look good on heart-shaped faces. If you're a bit of a free spirit (and thinker) who digs that folksy, edgy style, Ray-Ban's Round and Ray-Ban Round Hexagonal are right for you. "They've become associated with counterculture, pioneering vision, and artistic personalities," DiPalma adds.
The history: Bolder, more daring frames became possible in the '50s—all thanks to plastic. Freed from a metal-and-glass palette, Ray-Ban created a thicker frame with sharper angles. The Wayfarer was born, and it an immediate impact, namely because the men who wore 'em were so damn cool: The Blues Brothers, James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, and Tom Cruise in Risky Business. And like most styles, they experienced a resurgence in the '80s, too: The Smiths, The Ramones—hell, even Madonna rocked the moody specs.
Style points: "Rectangular frames such as the Wayfarer are the most popular shape and look good on a large majority of people, especially on those with a round face because of the straight angular lines that downplay roundness," DiPalma says. "Select frames with a dark color, such as black or tortoise shell, to help minimize fullness."