An outfit is only as strong as its parts. And when it's summer, and there are less parts, each one becomes that much more important. Imagine a typical summer Getup: Shirt, shorts, shoes, watch, sunglasses. Your eyewear becomes 20% of the entire look. Grabbing for some Oakley wraparounds or those fluorescent free ones you picked up from the promotional table in front of the bank can kill the whole thing; especially when you consider people will be staring at them while talking to you. More so than a watch, having a solid, versatile pair of sunglasses anchors the rest of the outfit. You can be wearing $20 Old Navy shorts and a $30 J.Crew Factory shirt, but throw in sunglasses with some style and it'll make the whole thing look like it cost a ton more.
When it comes to plastic or acetate frames (acetate being the more durable, higher priced option) classic brown tortoiseshell is an absolute summer essential. If you're looking to buy your first pair of stylish shades, tortoiseshell has and, will continue to be, numero uno.
But just like having a variety of watches for different occasions, looks, and weather, expanding your options for sunwear can slingshot the rest of your wardrobe into “wow, this guy knows what he's doing” style territory.
There are a ton of colors and patterns available, depending on your personal taste and style. My current two favorites are the Knickerbocker in Whisky Crystal from Classic Specs (above) and the blue-green-tan marbled Dash Sun from Fetch Eyewear (below). They're conservative frames with a modern color palette and both offer polarized scratch resistant 100% uva/uvb lenses. The Classic Specs are made from handcrafted acetate and steel hinges, and Fetch Eyewear offers a lifetime warranty.
For a selection of prices and features, check out the other 12 options below.