Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Lindsey Lanquist
Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae
Photo: Candace Napier Ross.

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I’m not entirely sure of the origins of summer sunglasses, but I suspect the story went something like this: Summer sunglasses were once a necessary evil. On the sunniest, most delightful summer days, the blistering sun couldn’t be contained—leaving the world blinded (and in dire need of sunscreen). The era’s “it” girls lamented that they had to ruin otherwise perfectly balanced outside with something so clunky and dark; how dare anything disrupt their carefully crafted aesthetics? As time went on, however, the future Instagram stars of 2019 got their way. Sunglasses were no longer all function, no form; design became as necessary as practicality. Style and sun protection would never be mutually exclusive again. The “it” girls lived happily ever after—and everyone else did, too.

Whether or not this imagined oral history of summer sunglasses is true, there’s one nugget of reality embedded within it: Sunglasses used to be exclusively practical. Think of the sunglasses that pervaded your youth. They were ugly—and that was before “ugly” fashion was “cool” and “trendy” and “self-aware.” There was no irony embedded in those visor sunglasses your dad used to wear on family vacations. They were there for one purpose and one purpose only: To protect your dad’s precious eyes as he navigated unfamiliar highways in the stale-smelling rental car you snagged at the airport.

These days, though, we’ve all but inverted this expectation. Sunglasses are veritably cool accessories so decorative that, sometimes, they don’t even protect your eyes from the sun at all. The line between sunglasses and eyeglasses has become so blurred that when I stumbled upon a pair of clear, glitter-adorned eyeglasses labeled “sunglasses,” I wasn’t remotely surprised. I mean, the lenses were littered with silver glitter that would surely obfuscate the wearer’s vision, and eyeglasses are supposed to help you see more clearly. Have we reached an age where sunglasses are no longer defined by what makes them sunglasses—their ability to protect the wearer from the sun—but instead by what makes them not eyeglasses?

These are strange times we live in, but what’s exciting is this: The great sunglass identity crisis of 2019 has blessed us with a veritable plethora of cute summer sunglasses to peruse, to buy, to wear. And really, who has time for existentialism when there’s so much shopping to be done?

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Grandpa sunnies, crafted for the modern age.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Don’t be surprised to catch people staring in the veritable mirror that is your sunglasses.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Ski goggles, but make them fashion—and sunglasses.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

They may not block the sun, but they’ll sure look good in all your summer Instagrams.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Glorified purple-tinted glasses. But we’ll call them sunnies, anyway.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Sure to play well with your favorite tropical print shirt.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Aviators with a fraction of the metal.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Nothing says early 2000s like rimless, rectangular sunnies.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Your favorite tortoiseshell sunnies, made new again,

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

OK, if the previous pair didn’t qualify as ski goggles in your book, these definitely have to.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Basically a really pretty aqua mirror you can wear on your face.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A more classic frame, for the fan of how our grandparents did it.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Because pilots would be cooler if they wore hot pink sunglasses.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A classic frame, done in a decidedly out-of-the-box way.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Because really, who said your lenses and your frames had to connect?

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

When your frames feel vintage, but your shape is anything but.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

I mean, why not tack a unibrow rim across the top?

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Daisy-inspired without skewing terribly literal.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Because circles are just too obvious.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Big enough to shield your gaze from the haters so you can roll your eyes in peace.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

They might not offer much shade, but they’ll certainly elevate your look.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

The kind of thing your grandma probably wore back in the day.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

We’re encountering a moment where truly massive sunglasses are as abundant as teensy-weensy ones.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Tinies just got tinier.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Basically a reflective shield you can wear on your face.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A statement sunny sure to play well with every ensemble you throw together.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Under-rims are the new over-rims.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A no-fail, statement-making addition to any sunnies repertoire.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Sunglasses that come with a built in sun visor? Trendy.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Red isn’t a traditional shade for shades, but it feels veritably futuristic—and statement-making.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Give us bedazzled anything, and we’ll be pleased.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Ski goggles are officially a lewk.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Because your penchant for pride doesn’t have to end when June does.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

As fit for 3019 as they are for 2019.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Forever 21 calls these “party favor” sunglasses—but we’d wear them on the daily.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A gold metallic option, for the fan of a warmer palette.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Everything you love about heart-shaped frames, combined with everything you cherish about classic cat-eye sunnies.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Aviators that are just a touch more fun than the average.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Sunnies sure to render you the walking embodiment of the kissy-face emoji.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Orange and chartreuse make for a seriously underrated summer color combo.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Classic without skewing too conventional.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Why yes, those pearl-lined pink lenses do fold out to make room for the green tinies underneath.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

A throwback to your favorite sunnies from the aughts.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Tiny sunglasses, done the heart way.

STYLECASTER | Summer Sunglasses Are the Cherry on Top of Any Seasonal Sartorial Sundae

Fodder for your next Instagram.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Giving new meaning to the phrase “starry-eyed.”

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

A vintage frame with a classic lens.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Opaque enough to actually, maybe, protect you from the sun—despite the light lens color.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Basically just iridescent eyeglasses—but honestly, who’s complaining?

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

On the plus side, impractical sunnies are fit for wear on even the cloudiest, rainiest days.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Be the walking embodiment of the heart-eye emoji. Because you can.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Come to think of it, who needs rims, anyway?

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Surface area? Check. Appearance? Check. Practicality—who needs it?

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Willy Wonka-inspired, Urban Outfitters-approved.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Give off subtle kissy emoji vibes, no matter where you wander.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

I have no qualms admitting these navy sunnies are cooler than I am.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

They might not keep the sun from your eyes, but they’ll surely keep you looking all kinds of cool.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Heart-eye sunnies are, somehow, more fun when it isn’t Valentine’s Day.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

A new take on bug-eye sunnies.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

I don’t care if you did a straight-up rain dance to wish for tiny sunnies to exit the zeitgeist. They’re back, baby.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Bella Hadid has been trying to resurrect this frame for, like, a year now.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Don’t fret, fans of practicality—the black rendition is sure to shield your eyes at least a little bit.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Glitter lenses may be low-key ill-advised, but they’re definitely having a moment.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Make dad proud.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Sure to pair well with chic power suits and “ugly” retro ensembles, alike.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

Also available in an equally cool olive green iteration.

Best Summer Sunglasses 2019 | 53 Pairs to Shop | STYLECASTER

So minimalist you might not even realize they’re there.

 

Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

A version of this story was originally published in April 2019. Updated July 2019.

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