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- A pair of sunglasses can add some quick style to a wardrobe, or enhance a specific look.
- But sunglasses aren’t just about style – it can protect the eyes from harsh UV rays.
- It’s important not to go cheap since eye-safety is worth spending the extra money on a good pair.
- Classic aesthetics, superb build quality, and unbeatable value make the US-made AO Eyewear Original Pilots the best sunglasses a man can buy. The squared-off lenses also look great on any face shape and set these shades apart from a crowd full of tear-drop aviators.
Like sneakers and blue jeans, sunglasses are one of those style items that just about everybody owns. It’s not hard to see why, given that a good pair of shades is mandatory for shielding your eyes from harsh UV rays. But aside from this ever-important protective task, sunglasses are also a sure way to express your style.
When buying sunglasses, it’s important not to go cheap. The safety of your eyes is worth spending the extra money on a good pair that provides proper protection from solar radiation and won’t break within a year. The other obvious consideration is style. Naturally, you want to pick something that looks good and suits your personal aesthetic, but also a design that works well with your particular face shape.
Whether you’re a fan of the timeless aviators, you love mid-century Americana, or you’re just looking for a rugged pair of sport shades that are also suitable for casual wear, we’ve hand-picked the five best pairs of sunglasses that cover all the style bases and face types.
All of our picks are also built to high standards of quality materials so you know you’re getting something that’s made to last and offers great UV protection.
Here are the best men’s sunglasses you can buy in 2019:
- Best overall: AO Eyewear Original Pilots
- Best plastic-framed sunglasses: Persol PO3019S
- Best retro sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmasters
- Best aviator sunglasses: Randolph Engineering Concordes
- Best sport sunglasses: Oakley Holbrook
Updated on 05/06/2019 by Les Shu: Updated links, formatting, and prices.
Keep scrolling to read more details about our top picks.
The best sunglasses overall
- AO Eyewear
With excellent build quality, classic American style, and a distinct design that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill round aviators, the AO Eyewear Original Pilots are easily the best sunglasses.
The classic aviators are arguably the most timeless, versatile, and distinctly American sunglasses you can own. Everyone wears sunglasses, and almost everybody owns or has owned a pair of these shades. And why not? They look great, flatter almost every face, are extremely functional thanks to their large lenses, and – like all good things – they’ll never go out of style.
When you think “aviators,” you probably imagine the more popular round or tear-drop lenses. Our top pick, the American Optical Original Pilot aviators, feature more squarish lenses that are less common and seriously great-looking. These shades have a distinct style that stands out in the sea of tear-drop aviators most people wear. They’re also arguably more versatile than standard aviators, as the squarish lenses are better suited for those with rounder faces.
Aside from boasting great American craftsmanship, the Original Pilot aviators have an impressive historical pedigree. These sunglasses were once standard issue for Air Force pilots and NASA astronauts and were the first pair of shades to go to the moon. Photos of astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rocking their AO Original Pilots are all over the internet if you’re curious.
At between $50-$90, the AO Original Pilots are also an unbeatable value for a pair of American-made sunglasses. They’re comparable in quality to Randolph Engineering aviators that cost twice as much. I personally own both and my Original Pilots are the ones I almost always reach for as my go-to pair. I recommend sticking with glass lenses for these, too, as the plastic lenses feel too light and are more likely to get scratched.
One final note about sizing: The lenses on these are spaced a bit further apart than those on tear-drop aviators, so take care not to order a size too large – especially with the unique “bayonet” temples that make it important that the frame is roughly the same width as your head. Those with small and narrow faces should consider opting for the 52mm lenses.
Pros: Superb build quality, great American style, they’re made in the US, squared-off lenses offer a unique aviator look, and they’re an excellent value
Cons: Sizing can be trickier than with tear-drop aviators due to the bayonet temples
The best plastic-framed sunglasses
The Persol PO3019S sunglasses are our favorite acetate-framed sunglasses thanks to their subtle and flattering style, great range of color choices, Italian-made quality, and sleek keyhole design.
Although every man should own aviators, it never hurts to have a couple of sunglass options in his style stable, and a good set of acetate-framed shades should be your second pick. The iconic Ray-Ban Wayfarers are a popular option here, but they’re a bit overplayed at the moment, and their thick plastic frames have a tendency to overwhelm smaller or more narrow faces.
Enter Persol, a classic Italian brand that’s been making sunglasses for more than a century. Its sleek PO3019S sunglasses are an excellent alternative to other chunky-framed shades owing to their slimmer design, unique colors, and keyhole bridge that gives them a tasteful retro aesthetic. These glasses are distinct from the ocean of Wayfarers and Wayfarer clones floating around.
The Persol PO3019S are hand-crafted in Italy with frames made of acetate, a durable cellulose-based plastic that is frequently found in high-end sunglasses like these. This lends the PO3019S shades a substantial high-quality feel, but they don’t sit too heavily on your face, either. The high-quality construction of these glasses puts them above your typical store-bought sunglasses that are typically made from cheaper plastics.
Our favorite style is the light-brown “Havana”-colored Persol PO3019S with blue lenses ($155.65 on Amazon), but other styles (starting at $127.40) are available, so pick your favorite.
Pros: Made in Italy, sturdy acetate frames offer a wide variety of color choices, substantial glass lenses, the slightly rounded square lenses flatter most faces, and the keyhole bridge design has a sleek retro aesthetic
Cons: The distinctly European style isn’t for everyone
The best retro sunglasses
The unique browline frame, round metal-rimmed lenses, and a cool mid-century aesthetic put the Ray-Ban Clubmasters on par with the timeless aviators when it comes to classic American style.
Although the Wayfarers may be a bit more popular, another Ray-Ban classic that deserves more play is the Clubmaster. This mid-century-style boasts a distinctive browline frame with round, metal-rimmed lenses for a retro aesthetic that’s not as aggressive or overwhelming on smaller heads as other old-school shades like aviators.
Like aviators and Wayfarers, Ray-Ban Clubmasters have graced the faces of many celebrities, artists, and historical figures – and, of course, us normal folk – throughout the 20th century. It’s easily one of the most iconic pieces of post-war Americana around, and given the unique design and great style, it’s unlikely that the Clubmasters will go the way of the dinosaur any time soon.
One of the reasons that the Clubmaster’s popularity persists is that they look great on just about everyone and complement pretty much any outfit. There are more than a few pictures of hippies rocking these, but a pair of Clubmaster goes just as well with a conservative suit ensemble for an elegant yet masculine look.
Both the black or dark mock tortoise frames with gold metal accents simply look great, but Ray-Ban offers numerous styles and colors on its site and the option to customize your glasses. Like other Ray-Ban shades, these are crafted with glass lenses and sturdy acetate frames, too, so they’re well worth the money and should last a lifetime.
Pros: Quality construction with substantial weight and feel, glass lenses with a durable metal and acetate frame, and a great 1950s style that looks great with any outfit
Cons: This style is currently made by Ray-Ban in Asia rather than Italy, and they’re more expensive than the Italian-made Persols
The best tear-drop aviator sunglasses
It doesn’t get much more timeless than the iconic tear-drop aviators, and the US-made Randolph Engineering Concordes perfectly combine classic masculine aesthetics with bomb-proof mil-spec quality.
While the square aviators are our favorite, sometimes you can’t beat a classic, and the time-honored tear-drop aviators remain ever-present for a reason. The iconic over-sized lenses, originally designed in the 1930s for military pilots (hence the obvious name), are the perfect blend of form and function, performing their protective task well while looking great on almost anyone.
Like much of modern menswear, aviator sunglasses owe their heritage to the military. This style being popularized during and after World War II. The tear-drop aviator is also a distinctly American style despite being common today throughout the world. US company Bausch & Lomb patented the original design, but our pick comes from the excellent Randolph Engineering, an American maker that boasts an impressive pedigree that rivals that of American Optical.
In fact, Randolph has held a US military contract for these sunglasses since 1978, edging out AO Eyewear as the official supplier of aviator shades to America’s armed forces. As you’d expect from military-issued gear, the Randolph Engineering Concorde aviators are built extremely tough with thick metal frames and sturdy glass lenses. Take them out of their case for the first time and you’ll immediately notice the substantial feel and build quality.
The Concorde’s 57mm lenses hit the sweet spot in size – not too big, not too small – without overwhelming smaller faces like wider 60-62mm aviator lenses tend to do. Randolph manufactures all of its eyewear to a high standard right in Massachusetts, too, so although they’re a bit expensive, you’re getting an incredibly well-made pair of all-American shades that your grandkids will fight over when you’re dead.
Pros: Sturdy glass and metal construction, built in the US to strict military standards, and the timeless tear-drop lenses look great on just about everybody
Cons: They’re more expensive than the AO aviators
The best casual sport sunglasses
Made in America, the rugged Oakley Holbrook sunglasses offer all of the protection you want from sport shades while featuring a subtle, casual style that looks great both on and off the playing field.
If you’re frequently enjoying sporting activities in the great outdoors, then a pair of sunglasses with glass lenses is probably not the best option. Sport shades are the one instance where we prefer polycarbonate lenses, as you want something that’s more impact- and shatter-resistant than glass. Nobody wants an eyeful of shards due to bumps and falls that often accompany outdoor adventures.
Many sport sunglasses are a bit too sporty, however, often featuring highly angular lenses and big wraparound frames that, while functional enough, look out of place when worn casually. You’re not likely to wear your workout clothes as a daily outfit, so why show the same carelessness with your accessories? A more subtle design like the Oakley Holbrook sunglasses makes these just as suitable for casual wear as for outdoor sports.
The Oakley Holbrook shades are made in the United States with rugged polycarbonate frames and lenses. The frames feature a keyhole bridge design with squared-off lenses, giving them an appearance similar to Wayfarers but with a more rectangular silhouette and a less pronounced browline.
You’ve got a lot of color choices, too, although the Oakley Holbrooks are a bit large – the smallest lens size available is 55mm – but big lenses are ideal for providing the eye protection you want in a pair of sporting sunglasses.
They’re lightweight despite their size, though, so they sit very comfortably on your face and are better for all-day wear than heavier glass and metal sunglasses. Whether you’re working out, playing a ball game, or just out and about in jeans and a tee shirt, the Oakley Holbrook sunglasses are a solid pair of American-made shades that are performance-focused without sacrificing style.
Pros: Made in America, durable polycarbonate frames and lenses, lightweight and comfortable for extended wear, a myriad of frame and lens color options, and a great casual style that’s more versatile than standard wraparound sport sunglasses
Cons: They’re fairly large