Whether you’re shielding your eyes from the sun or shielding the world from your hangover, a good pair of shades is a must.
They’ll be your best friend as the weather warms up and that big yellow orb in the sky begins to re-emerge, and the right pair can really finish an outfit off with a flourish. But how do you find said right pair? Well, that’s where we come in.
We’ve spent several weeks searching high and low, and testing some of the key models on the market from many of the best brands in the business.
From small, independent manufacturers to the biggest names in eyewear, we scoured them all for high-quality shades to suit every taste and budget.
Whatever your personal tastes may be, the right pair of shades should be well made, stylish, versatile and offer good value for money, regardless of which price bracket they fall within. Below is a selection of men’s sunglasses that ticked all of those boxes for us.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Cubitts marchmont II sunglasses
London-based eyewear brand Cubitts is a one-stop shop for stylish, wallet-friendly specs. We’ve tried tons of shades from major eyewear labels and fashion brands that were twice the price and only half as good, which is why Cubitts is our first port of call when it comes to sourcing glasses of any description.
This round-framed, clear-acetate pair of shades offers a contemporary twist on a classic 1930s shape. They’re lightweight and comfortable, and the see-through frame provides a nice change of pace from the endless black and tortoiseshell options that swamp the market. We loved the look of these sunglasses – they’re simple but also eye catching, and make a great finishing touch to any summer outfit.
Banton Frameworks profile polarised sunglasses
The eyewear market is saturated with big brands churning out mass-production frames, which in many cases, are all made in the same factory anyway. That’s why we love Banton Frameworks so much.
This independent eyewear brand from Scotland specialises in artisan, handmade frames and blows most of the big hitters out of the water when it comes to quality. These are shades with a personal touch, and this stunning tortoiseshell frame, complete with rose-gold arms and polarised lenses is certainly no different.
Kirk Originals Bobby sunglasses
Britain is by no means known for its blazing sunshine and glorious 30-degree summers, so it may surprise you to learn that it’s home to one of the world’s finest manufacturers of high-end sunglasses.
Kirk Originals’ bobby frame is a masculine style that will suit a wide variety of face shapes thanks to a winning mix of hard and soft lines. We’re particularly fond of the dark tortoiseshell colouring, which is so subtle that the frame almost appears black in certain light. Great news for those who want to display a touch of personality without going overboard.
Moncler Lunettes blazon sunglasses
Sunglasses are the perfect vehicle through which to show off a little personality and flair. They enable you to step outside of your sartorial comfort zone without venturing completely off-piste. Perhaps that’s why we’re drawn to these eye-catching shades from premium Alpine outerwear label Moncler.
The classic round metal frame is brought to life by the addition of leather spoilers to the sides, which lend the shades an air of vintage cool. The unique looks and lofty price tag mean they won’t be for everyone, but if you have the confidence and bank balance to pull them off then we say go for it.
Moscot x End lemtosh
The lemtosh is one of the oldest and most popular styles from premium NYC eyewear brand Moscot. It first emerged after WWII when icons of the time like James Dean and Buddy Holly became fans of it’s bold cat-eye shape and thick acetate frame.
This particular version is a one-off made specially for End, which means that while the lemtosh is fairly ubiquitous in menswear circles, these offer a slightly different spin on the classic. The G15 tinted lenses are warm and offer great visibility, and the dark tortoiseshell colour lends itself nicely to all manner of outfits and dress codes.
Garrett Leight wilson sun sunglasses
These metal-frame shades from Californian eyewear brand Garrett Leight take their inspiration from the late, great John Lennon. It’s a low-profile, circular frame that is best suited to round faces. If your features are more soft than angular then this sort of style could be a good option for you.
We love these shades because of the way they manage to balance subtlety with a good dose of personality. They’re simple and understated, but the tortoiseshell Windsor rims add a barely-there dash of colour. As a result, this frame will work perfectly with your casual clothes, but won’t look at all out of place when the time comes to don some tailoring too.
Monokel rio sunglasses
Monokel offers up plenty of classic sunglass styles at prices that, while not rock bottom, aren’t quite as lofty as a lot of the competition. As a result, you can get great-looking shades, hopefully without completely bankrupting yourself. That’s the idea anyway.
The brand’s rio frame is Monokel’s take on a classic aviator, but the slightly scaled-down proportions won’t dwarf smaller faces. In fact, we’d say these are a great mid-size option – they’re not tiny, but by no means oversized either. If you like the look of classic aviators but are put off by the size, these could be the solution. We also love the gradient Carl Zeiss lenses, which bring a little touch of luxury to the table.
Ray-Ban original wayfarer classic
Ray-Ban’s original wayfarer is the sunglass that started it all. Prior to the 1950s, shades for men were purely functional. They protected military men’s eyes, particularly the likes of pilots, but fashion items they were not.
That all changed with the birth of this iconic acetate frame. All of a sudden, sunglasses were being worn by Hollywood heavyweights and everyone needed a pair. The wayfarer remains largely unchanged from its mid-century form and is still unmatched in terms of versatility and that fact that it looks good on pretty much anyone who wears it. It’s an all-time classic and a must for every man, style-conscious or otherwise.
Men’s style icons don’t come much bigger or better than Steve McQueen. His nickname is “The King of Cool” for crying out loud. Suffice to say, if you’re going to take your sartorial cues from a celebrity, he’s a pretty rock-solid place to start.
With that in mind, why not take a leaf out of McQueen’s book when it comes to eyewear too? The Papillon star was known for his trademark Persol 714 shades, which he wore in a number of his films, including The Thomas Crown Affair. It’s a classic, mid-century shape that has aged like fine wine and has the added benefit of hinges in the arms and the bridge. You know, so that they can be neatly folded away when they’re not shielding you from the sun or protecting your eyes from the unrelenting flash of paparazzi cameras.
Cubitts turnbull titanium sunglasses
The first thing that’ll strike you about these wiry shades from Cubitts is their weight. The London eyewear label claims that they’re lighter than a 20p piece, and although we haven’t done a direct comparison, they’re definitely in the right ballpark.
The reason for their miniscule weight is the material Cubitts has gone for in the frame department: titanium. This special metal offers lightness and strength that far surpasses that of traditional steel, resulting in glasses with unparalleled levels of comfort. Seriously, you’ll forget you’re wearing them until someone reminds you by paying them another compliment.
The verdict: Men’s sunglasses
On balance, Cubitts marchmont II sunglasses were the best we looked at in terms of style, quality and general value for money. You can even get prescription lenses for no extra cost. If clear acetate is a bit too “out there” for you, the frame is available in lots of other colours too.
For more sunnies inspiration, we’ve rounded up the sunglasses brands to have on your radar this summer
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