Classic Shades are Way to Go

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Sunglasses are essential. We all need a little eye-protection from the sun at some stage. Even those who manage to travel without sunglasses, instead wearing wide-brim hats or even carrying a sun umbrella, will admit that at certain times of day, in certain environments, they wished they had some polarized lenses. Try walking around a small rustic village in Crete in the height of summer; and look at a mass of white buildings with a few dots of dazzling blue without wearing shades. Discomfort is an understatement. The last time I did it I had a headache and couldn’t see properly in the darkened rooms of cool churches for at least a few hours.

I don’t tend to like sunglasses that much – they can ruin an outfit of a particular style. I was not one of those who approved of Prince William wearing Oakley sunglasses with a suit at the Cartier International polo event those years ago; the effect was the same as if he’d worn it with Nike Air Max trainers. He would have looked more chic if he did not wear any at all, but if he had to, I think he should have chosen something more classic.

I have come to appreciate that classic shapes of shades are still the best. The shapes of glasses I refer to as ‘classic’ are the Aviator and the Wayfarer. Quite different in construction and style, they turn heads and are extremely versatile. Aviators, glasses that have become popular again in recent years, have the most distinctive shape of lens. I think they are most appropriate for casual wear and for more modern looks. Although they are retro in appeal, they can be worn with new-classic items such as multi-pocket shorts.

Wayfarers on the other hand, the Risky Business glasses, are suitable for more preppy looks; cardigans, chinos and smart Oxford shoes. The profile of the Wayfarer on the wearers face is perhaps the most elegant to be seen. They look youthful and at the same time, exude an appreciation for design which most often comes with maturity of thought. I think the tortoiseshell-effect models are the smartest, although the black versions have been the most popular over time. They conjure up summer nostalgia in a way that no other sunglasses can. Helped, no doubt, by that unforgettable line in the ‘Boys of Summer’ as sung by Don Henley; “You got your hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on baby.”

Ray-Ban manufactures the best Aviators and Wayfarers on the market. Their aviators, immortalized by Tom Cruise in Top Gun, have smaller lenses than fashion Aviators from other manufacturers and are more elegant in structure. The Wayfarers, as worn by Jack Nicholson, the Blues Brothers and JFK, should also be bought from Ray-Ban; they are the original manufacturers and by far the best. Quite simply, no one has managed to replace the classics. New lenses, designers and glitter may be thrown at the sunglasses market. And yet these two distinctive and stylish designs remain the two to be beaten.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.