Our guide to different types of sunglasses

Discover all the shapes and styles

A black and a brown pair of sunglasses lying on a wooden table A black and a brown pair of sunglasses lying on a wooden table

Sunglasses are not only one of the trendiest fashion accessories you can own, but they also keep you protected from UV light. Look effortlessly stylish whatever the occasion with designs to suit your unique fashion sense and personality. We have a wide range of sunglasses in different shapes and styles. The varying designs are distinctive in their own way and have been made famous by many of our favourite celebrities over the decades.

This is our helpful guide in which we will discuss the various sunglasses shapes and also the different sunglasses styles, available with or without a prescription at Glasses Direct.

A graphic showing ten different sunglasses shapes next to each other: Aviator, Butterly, Cat-eye, Clubmaster, Geometric, Oval, Rectangular, Round, Square, Wayfarer A graphic showing ten different sunglasses shapes next to each other: Aviator, Butterly, Cat-eye, Clubmaster, Geometric, Oval, Rectangular, Round, Square, Wayfarer

Aviator sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses continue to be a soaring success! Originally designed for US pilots in the 1930s, they have a truly iconic design that is recognised everywhere. Pilot-style sunglasses have made big appearances on the silver screen and many a famous face has been seen sporting them. This timeless sunglasses style has frequently been experimented with, resulting in contemporary alternatives created from sturdy materials like plastic or acetate. Plus, there has also been a rise in the popularity of navigator sunglasses, which are similar to Aviators but with square or rectangular lenses.

Key design features: These sunglasses are characterised by their sleek metal design, double bridge and classic teardrop lenses. They are normally large in size and therefore provide reliable protection from the sun.

Butterfly sunglasses

Butterfly sunglasses rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s. Famously worn by Audrey Hepburn, they have a fun and flirty design. Today, they are very much favoured amongst famous stars. Feel like a fashion icon in these classy, oversized sunglasses. If you want to add a glamorous edge to your wardrobe try Dolce and Gabbana’s luxury DG1346.

Key design features: Butterfly sunglasses tend to be very large and are more commonly recognised as having a square or cat-eye shape. They are wide on the outside and narrower towards the nose area, creating a distinctive silhouette that resembles a butterfly.

Cat-eye sunglasses

Popularised by famous stars in the 1950s and 1960s, cat-eye frames are loved just as much today for their vintage appeal and playful style. A pair of cat-eye sunglasses will add fun, femininity and flair to your wardrobe. We have a selection of fashionable designs available in a variety of bright colours, bold floral prints and other gentler, elegant designs.

Key design features: The upswept corners, which resemble mesmerising cat eyes, are probably the first thing you notice about glamorous cat-eye frames.

Clubmaster sunglasses

Clubmaster sunglasses are a classic retro style. Invented in the 1940s as functional eyewear, this style was favoured by businessmen for its clean-cut design, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. They made a comeback as sunglasses in the 1980s after Bruce Willis famously wore them in the successful American television show Moonlighting. Today, it is one of the most popular sunglasses styles you can own. At Glasses Direct, we have a huge range of Clubmaster sunglasses from timeless classics to bright, contemporary designs.

Key design features: The classic Clubmaster is characterised by its thick browline, often made of plastic or acetate. This style of sunglasses also tends to have metal pin detailing and a slim metal outline around the lenses.

Geometric sunglasses

Fashion-forward and distinctive, geometric sunglasses vary in style from retro-inspired metal frames to clear and colourful plastic designs. This experimental style of sunglasses is known for its stand-out appeal and is a huge fashion trend at the moment. Two of our favourite geometric-shaped sunglasses at the moment are Eliza from our exclusive Glasses Direct range and also the striking PLD D433 by Polaroid.

Key design features: Geometric frames can be recognised for their unusual or irregular shape. Ranging from eye-catching hexagonal to octagon-shaped frames, they come in a variety of trendsetting styles.

Oval sunglasses

Achieve a contemporary look with a pair of classic oval-shaped sunglasses. As one of the earliest styles to be created, this well-liked design has remained popular throughout the years. We have a huge range of styles for you to choose from, ranging from bold 1970s and 1980s-inspired frames to more refined, minimal designs that became a real craze in the 1990s.

Key design features: Often mistaken for having a round shape, oval sunglasses tend to be much wider. In some ways, you could say this style combines traditional round and rectangular frame shapes, offering the best of both worlds!

Rectangular sunglasses

Rectangular-shaped sunglasses offer a simple, fashionable alternative to square. We have a wide collection of different styles available including colourful designs by famous sports brands and slim 90s-style sunglasses. Choose from a range of irresistible colours and designs.

Key design features: Rectangle sunglasses tend to be very wide. Their narrow shape draws the focus to the centre of your face for a modern look.

Round sunglasses

Likely one of the first designs ever created, round sunglasses are full of retro vibes. A popular style with young people in the Swinging Sixties, circular sunglasses are still a favourite amongst music lovers and festival fans. This must-have style was most famously worn by John Lennon and the Gallagher brothers. We have a vast selection of styles ranging from classic retro-round to thick, colourful acetate frames bursting with colour.

Key design features: Circular sunglasses are well-known for their round lenses. The circular shape is characteristic of this style.

Square sunglasses

Popularised by movie stars in the 1950s, boxy square frames were a huge trend. Even bigger and bolder sunglass styles were made famous by the likes of Elton John in the 1970s. Today, big, chunky square sunglasses are dominating the runways and are loved by numerous celebrities. We have a variety of different shapes and styles from thick plastic designs to more refined options.

Key design features: Square sunglasses are even on all sides. They often have a versatile angular shape.

Wayfarer sunglasses

Due to innovations in plastic during the 1950s, Wayfarer sunglasses were first introduced as a trendy alternative to more traditional styles. They were recognised by Hollywood movie stars and British rock legends. These sunglasses were originally considered very masculine because the frames were very big and bulky, however, they have evolved to become a popular style of sunglasses for both men and women.

Key design features: Similar in many ways to square or rectangular sunglasses, Wayfarers stand out due to their iconic pointed corners which subtly extend out at the sides. Some people describe this particular detail as ‘wings’.

What are some of the special design features of sunglasses?

Close-up of a glasses frame, showing off its keyhole bridge

Keyhole bridge

Lots of sunglasses feature a keyhole bridge. Intended for people with wider noses, it is designed to distribute the weight of your glasses on the side of your nose rather than the top. You can easily recognise this unique design feature because it looks like a traditional keyhole you would find in an old door.

Close-up of a glasses frame, showing off its soft nosepads

Adjustable nose pads

A common feature of metal sunglasses, the soft rubber nose pads ensure a secure and comfortable fit. They can be easily adjusted to sit securely on your face, preventing your sunglasses from falling off. Please read our handy tips on how to adjust your eyewear.

Close-up of a glasses frame, zooming in on the hinges

Spring hinges

Providing added flexibility, spring hinges are included on many types of sunglasses. In contrast to a standard hinge, the temples are able to extend beyond 90 degrees. Spring hinges provide a comfortable fit and are especially ideal for individuals with an active lifestyle.

Close-up of a Persol frame, showing off the Meflecto stripes near the hinge

Meflecto system

Crafted by hand in Italy, Persol sunglasses feature the world’s first flexible stem system called Meflecto. This original design feature ensures ultimate comfort and eliminates pressure on the side of your head. These sunglasses are able to adapt to the unique shape of your face.

Explore our full range of sunglasses tint options

We have a variety of sunglasses tints for you to choose from. Suitable for different purposes, they all provide 100% UVA/B protection. Select either dark tints, gradient tints, or polarised lenses. You also have the option of our light intelligent lenses which transform from clear glasses indoors to a pair of reliable sunglasses when you head outside. Meanwhile, Transitions® Drivewear® lenses are always tinted and are designed to help keep you safe on the road.