By Taylor Arnold
Traditionally, glasses have been purely a tool to enhance vision or protect the eyes from the glare of the sun. But these days, eyewear has become an essential fashion accessory as well. From oversized aviators to exaggerated cat eyes, the chic opticals of 2016 project a sophisticated viewpoint.
According to personal stylist and wardrobe consultant Sue DeVos, glasses are in. "Some people are putting neutral lenses in the frames just to wear a style they love," she says. This year, the possibilities for frames include everything from translucent plastic to more natural elements, like wood frames or plastic that mimics bamboo. "Metal frames are also popular, but the metals are a soft-brushed finish in gold, silver or aluminum," she says.
Fashion Week looks featured pearls, leather and tweed as some of the materials of the moment. "The legs of the sunglasses were embellished with the classic mademoiselle chain and pearls in between," says Veronica Cornish, a fashion journalist and marketing manager at Alexis Suitcase. "We are also seeing materials like marble, tweed, mother of pearl, embellishments, rockstuds and even fur. And, of course, the extremely exaggerated and oversized colorful frames from Prada, Fendi and Miu Miu."
According to Morgan Ramage and Evans Moore, fashion and accessories managers with the Atlanta Apparel Market, sunglasses trends place a heavy focus on the brow line. Popular shapes include round sunglasses in small and oversized frames, as well as square frames. Retro styles continue to be popular, particularly the cat eye and classic aviators.
When it comes to choosing the right eyewear to suit your face, check your brows—choose frames that fall just below, follow along or lift slightly above your eyebrow line. "Frames far above your eyebrow line are too large for your face," DeVos explains. If you have a round face, opt for an oversized pair with strong details, wider lenses and nose pads to keep sunglasses off your cheeks. "Square faces look good in round shapes and thin frames because it will bring balance to the face," Cornish says. "The oval face can opt for bold shapes and colorful frames and textures—the cat eye or wayfarer style is very popular among this type of face."
Because it is such an "anything-goes" era with eyewear right now, it may be overwhelming to find the most flattering style. When in doubt, remember that medium- to dark-toned frames look good on most people and that the classic aviator style flatters faces of all ages. The biggest misstep you can make is simply sticking with the same frames year after year. "Styles and materials change, especially the finish on metals," DeVos points out. "If someone has worn the same frames for more than a couple of years, chances are those frames are aging the wearer." For sunglasses, Cornish notes, the dark lens shade will make you look older, while gradient brown lenses or light pinks will bring a fresher look.
Men's styles parallel women's with round frames, brow-line frames, aviators, natural elements and exposed hardware. But for the guys, translucent frames are darker tones of grey, olive, black and brown. "On the Prada 2016 runway, we saw men wearing eyewear that women can wear as well," Cornish says. "The square tortoise-shell frames are very popular right now. The aviators are also shapes that both men and women wear all the time. There is a certain fluidity between men and women when it comes to eyewear."
Whatever your selection, keep your lifestyle in focus and choose frames that fit your needs. The options available offer enough variety to put your best self in prime view every day.